THE WASHINGTON POST – As someone who has studied and worked with a number of chef recipes, I can tell you that they are not always the easiest to translate for a home cook and kitchen. But when it came time to find a great recipe for chicken Parm, we all immediately thought of the rendition being churned out by chef Michael Schlow and his team at Alta Strada, which has two locations in the Washington area.
FOR THE CHICKEN
Two boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
Freshly ground black pepper
Half cup panko bread crumbs
Pinch dried rosemary
Pinch dried thyme
Half cup dried bread crumbs
Half cup all-purpose flour
One large egg, beaten with a splash of water
FOR THE SAUCE
Two tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Quarter medium yellow onion, finely chopped (about 1/3 cup)
Two cloves garlic, thinly sliced
Half teaspoon kosher salt
Quarter teaspoon ground black pepper
Quarter to half teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
One 28-ounce can whole San Marzano tomatoes, drained (reserve the juices) and coarsely crushed by hand
10 to 12 basil leaves, torn into small pieces
Four tablespoons canola or vegetable oil, or more as needed
Half cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Grana Padano cheese
Four thin slices fresh mozzarella
Minced fresh parsley, for garnish (optional)
For the chicken: Use a sharp knife to cut horizontally through each breast half. Separate the two halves. Place a chicken cutlet between two pieces of plastic wrap. Then, using a meat tenderiser or small cast-iron skillet, pound the cutlets until they are quarter-inch thick. Repeat with each cutlet. Pat the chicken dry and season both sides with salt and pepper.
In a food processor, combine the panko, rosemary and thyme along with a pinch each of salt and pepper. Pulse to combine.
Combine the panko mixture with the bread crumbs in a shallow bowl or dish.
Place the flour in another dish and the egg mixture in a third. Dip one cutlet into the flour, coating both sides and shaking off any excess. Then, dip it into the egg, coating both sides. Drop the cutlet into the panko mixture and coat the chicken on both sides. Place the cutlet on a baking sheet, and repeat with the remaining three cutlets. Then, place the baking sheet in the refrigerator.
For the sauce: Heat the two tablespoons of olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the onion and cook for about five minutes, until softened and partially translucent. Add the garlic, salt, pepper and crushed red pepper flakes, to taste; cook for 30 seconds, stirring constantly, until fragrant.
Add the crushed tomatoes and about three tablespoons of their juices, or just enough to make sure the mixture looks more saucy than dry. Allow to almost come to a boil. Then, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the basil, and remove the sauce from the heat.
For assembly: Position the rack a few inches from the oven broiler heating element, and turn the broiler to high.
Heat the four tablespoons of canola or vegetable oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Line a plate or baking sheet with paper towels.
Once the oil shimmers, place two of the cutlets in the pan, leaving room between them. Cook for about two and a half minutes, until they are golden brown and crisp on the bottom, gently pressing down on the cutlets with a wide spatula to help ensure even browning.
Use a fork to turn over the cutlets; cook until the meat feels firm and the second side is deep golden brown and crisp, two and a half to three minutes, reducing the heat as needed to keep the breading from burning. Transfer the cutlets to the lined plate.
Transfer the cutlets to a baking sheet. Divide the sauce evenly among the cutlets. Sprinkle each cutlet with two tablespoons of the Parmigiano-Reggiano or Grana Padano, and place one slice of mozzarella on top. Broil for one to three minutes.