Chicken Parmesan

Chicken parm is one of those highly debated dishes in the NY metropolitan area. People argue about which restaurant does it best, what constitutes a "properly" made dish, whether it should or should not be consumed on a sandwich, and it all gets a bit tedious.

Frankly, my favorite chicken parm is the kind I make at home because I can enjoy it however I please. I like to use thighs (because dark meat is better than white meat), I use panko breadcrumbs for a thicker, crunchier crust, and I sprinkle a little lemon zest and crushed pepper flakes on top for extra pizzazz. I love chicken parm on a buttery garlic bread for lunch but prefer it served with a side of pasta for dinner.
4 chicken thighs (boneless, skinless)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
¼ cup flour
1 egg, beaten
2 cups panko breadcrumbs
¼ cup + ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
+ olive oil for frying
1 teaspoon crushed pepper flakes
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 cup grated mozzarella cheese

1 cup crushed tomatoes
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
pinch oregano
pinch basil

Start by breading the thighs. Season your chicken with salt and pepper and add a little parmesan to the breadcrumbs and combine. Then, dredge the meat in flour, coat in egg, and then press on the cheesy breadcrumbs.
Heat a pan of oil and add in a little garlic to season it. And, if you're so inclined, you can toss in some crushed pepper flakes too.
Fry the chicken until golden brown, about three minutes on each side.
Meanwhile, get the sauce together. Now, you could spend ages making some fancy marinara, but honestly, I just like to season a little can of tomato sauce. I add olive oil, minced garlic, oregano, basil, and crushed pepper flakes.
Lay the chicken on a foil-lined sheet pan. (The foil is optional but makes for really easy cleaning.)
Spoon a little sauce over each piece of chicken and then heap on a generous amount of mozzarella and parmesan cheese. Finish by grating on a little lemon zest and with a sprinkle of crushed pepper flakes. Pop the pan into a 400F oven for about ten minutes, or until the cheese is starting to brown.
Serve with the pasta of your choice. I went for aglio, olio, e peperoncino while the others went for traditional red sauce.
Serve with a big salad and some roasted vegetables to complete that food pyramid and dig in. The chicken has a supremely crunchy crust, the meat itself is tender and succulent, the sauce is vibrant, the bit of lemon zest adds just a little extra brightness, the crushed pepper flakes give the whole thing just a hint of spice, and it all comes together beautifully thanks to the oozy melted cheese.
Here's the recipe page: