Crispy Chicken Parmesan With Fresh Tomato Sauce

July 23, 2020
Photo by Ty Mecham. Food stylist: Anna Billingskog. Prop stylist: Amanda Widis.
Author Notes

This chicken Parmesan recipe pays homage not just to the saucy, cheesy Italian-American classic, but also to the lighter Italian dish it’s based on (which is traditionally made with vegetables like eggplant, zucchini, and artichoke). My variation of parmigiana hits all those familiar notes, but with a couple twists and turns: Fresh summer tomatoes make for a bright, savory-sharp base for a shatteringly crisp, panko-crusted chicken cutlet. Blanketed with a layer of milky mozzarella cheese, my chicken Parmesan feeds one hungry soul, though you could certainly double or triple this recipe to feed more mouths. Most importantly, I can say this, without an ounce of hesitation: In my two years of writing my column, Table for One, this is my favorite recipe I’ve ever developed for it.

Featured in: A Single-Serving Chicken Parmesan, Because You Deserve a Proper Dinner. —Eric Kim

  • Prep time 15 minutes
  • Cook time 30 minutes
  • Serves 1
  • For the sauce:
  • 2 medium vine-ripened tomatoes (about 8 ounces), roughly chopped
  • 1 small yellow onion (about 4 ounces), roughly chopped
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • For the chicken:
  • 1 5- to 6-ounce chicken breast
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan, divided
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 pound fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced
  • Fresh oregano or torn basil leaves, for garnish (optional)
In This Recipe
  1. In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, add the tomatoes, onion, butter, oregano, sugar, salt, and pepper, and bring to a simmer. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the lid and continue cooking for 15 more minutes, stirring occasionally, until reduced slightly. Transfer sauce to a liquid measuring cup (or just something narrower than the saucepan) and puree with a stick blender until smooth, or you could also blitz it in a food processor. Cover to keep warm and set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, place the chicken breast between two sheets of parchment paper or plastic wrap, or in a large resealable plastic bag, and bash with a rolling pin until uniformly thin. Season with salt and pepper on both sides.
  3. Set up your breading station: On a large plate, stir together the mayonnaise and mustard. On another large plate, stir together the panko, garlic powder, oregano, 1/4 cup of Parmesan, salt, and pepper. Transfer chicken to the first plate and smother with the mayo-mustard mixture, making sure it’s completely covered on both sides. Then, transfer chicken to the second plate and press down, flipping and pressing down multiple times to ensure even panko stickage on both sides. Place breaded chicken in the fridge, uncovered on this second plate, to rest; or if you're ready to eat, go straight to the next step.
  4. In a large skillet, heat olive oil until very hot and shimmering. Add the chicken and fry for 2 minutes on the first side, and 1 to 2 minutes on the second side, or until cooked through. Sprinkle top with remaining 1/4 cup of Parmesan and lay over the slices of fresh mozzarella. Turn off the heat and cover the skillet with a lid until the cheese melts, about 5 minutes.
  5. To serve, first lay the sauce down, covering the entire plate. Then, place the fried chicken cutlet over the sauce and garnish with fresh oregano or basil. More often than not, I like to eat this just as is, maybe with a hunk of bread to sop up the sauce. But you could also serve it with a simple green salad or, if you're really hungry, with some buttered pasta.

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Eric Kim is the Table for One columnist at Food52. Formerly the managing editor at Food Network and a PhD candidate in literature at Columbia University, he is currently working on his first cookbook, to be published by Clarkson Potter in Spring 2022. His favorite writers are William Faulkner, John Steinbeck, and Ernest Hemingway, but his hero is Nigella Lawson. You can find his bylines at Saveur, Bon Appétit, and The New York Times and follow him on Twitter @ericjoonho. Born and raised in Georgia, Eric lives in a tiny shoebox in Manhattan with his dog, Quentin "Q" Compson.