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Chicken Parmigiana (Chicken Parmesan)

Possibly the most popular pub food in Australia, Chicken Parmigiana or Chicken Parmesan (known locally as chicken parmy) is an evergreen crowd-pleaser. Crumbed chicken breasts, smothered in a rich tomato sauce and plenty of melted cheese - what’s not to like?

It’s Friday! Time to relax and unwind after the work week and get stuck into celebrating the weekend. I’m still enjoying the European summer, but it won’t be long until I’m sitting in the sunny courtyard of a favourite Sydney pub, sipping cold wine and eating the my favourite Aussie pub food.

What sort of pub food are we talking about here?

The menu at nearly every big pub in Australia is fairly much the same, filled with much loved, crowd-pleasing classics, but there is none the Aussies have taken to heart like the ever-popular Chicken Parmigiana.

Possibly the most popular pub food in Australia, Chicken Parmigiana or Chicken Parmesan (known locally as chicken parmy) is an evergreen crowd-pleaser. Crumbed chicken breasts, smothered in a rich tomato sauce and plenty of melted cheese - what’s not to like?

What’s Chicken Parmigiana?

Chicken Parmigiana or Chicken Parmesan (known colloquially in Australia as simply a ‘parmy’ or ‘parmi’) is a baked dish made from crumbed chicken smothered in a rich tomato sauce and mounds of melting cheese. This is the sort of meal it is impossible to dislike.

With tomatoes, basil and mozzarella (the colours of the Italian flag!) full of bright Mediterranean flavours, especially when topped with fresh basil, truly dish that sings of summer.

Who invented Chicken Parmigiana? It doesn’t sound Australian?

Chicken Parmigiana is a 20th century take on the much older Italian dish melanzane alla Parmigiana – or crumbed eggplant, so if you fancy making this dish vegetarian, you can try sliced and crumbed eggplant instead.

How do you make chicken Parmigiana?

While there are a couple of steps to this recipe, none are particularly taxing or time-consuming, so this is a great dish for a midweek meal.

  • First, the chicken breasts are crumbed and fried. I like to use fresh breadcrumbs for the best results. Halving the chicken breasts means they cook quicker and more evenly.
  • Next, you need to make a super simple marinara sauce. This sauce comes together in minutes (but you can cheat and use a good quality jar of pasta sauce if you like).
  • Lastly, everything is layered up with plenty of mozzarella and Parmesan cheese and baked to golden, bubbling perfection.
Possibly the most popular pub food in Australia, Chicken Parmigiana or Chicken Parmesan (known locally as chicken parmy) is an evergreen crowd-pleaser. Crumbed chicken breasts, smothered in a rich tomato sauce and plenty of melted cheese - what’s not to like?

What to serve with Chicken Parmigiana?

I like to serve mine with a crisp salad and, obviously, an icy cold glass of Australian chardonnay or a tall and frosty beer. It’s popular in Australia to serve this with a vast helping of French fries, but I save that for special occasions.

You can prepare it in advance!

You can prepare Chicken Parmigiana in advance. The marinara sauce can be made up to 3 days in advance and kept chilled, while you can crumb the chicken up to 24 hours in advance.

That means when it comes to the cooking time it is just an assembly job, making this an ideal weeknight dinner or weekend lunch.

If you like Chicken Parmigiana, definitely check out my recipe for Lemon and Caper Chicken – it’s just as tasty! xJ


FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Can I make Chicken Parmigiana in advance?

You can prepare Chicken Parmigiana in advance – the sauce can be made up to 3 days before you need it and kept chilled, while you can crumb the chicken up to 24 hours beforehand.

Do I have to make my own sauce for Chicken Parmigiana?

I think this is a super quick and easy sauce, but if you are really pressed for time, use a good quality jar of pasta sauce instead. If you’ve got summer tomatoes to use up, try my famous Slow Roasted Tomato Sauce recipe – it’s perfect for this recipe!

The recipe calls for ‘fresh breadcrumbs’ – where do I get them?

I always save my stale bread and whizz it up to breadcrumbs in the food processor when I need it. It’s always worth asking your local bakery if they sell breadcrumbs, they are perfect for this sort of dish and usually very cheap. Otherwise, I’d recommend Japanese-style Panko breadcrumbs.


Possibly the most popular pub food in Australia, Chicken Parmigiana or Chicken Parmesan (known locally as chicken parmy) is an evergreen crowd-pleaser. Crumbed chicken breasts, smothered in a rich tomato sauce and plenty of melted cheese - what’s not to like?
A picture of chicken parmigiana, chicken breast with tomato sauce and melted mozzarella - with salad on a plate

Chicken Parmigiana (Chicken Parmesan)

Yield: Serves 2-4
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes

Possibly the most popular pub food in Australia, Chicken Parmigiana or Chicken Parmesan (known locally as chicken parmy) is an evergreen crowd-pleaser.

Crumbed chicken breasts, smothered in a rich tomato sauce and plenty of melted cheese - what’s not to like?

Ingredients

for the chicken:

  • 2 chicken breasts, ca. 200g (7 oz.) each
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 Tbsp plain flour
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 75g (1 cup) fresh breadcrumbs
  • 25g (¼ cup) Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • sea salt and black pepper

for the sauce:

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely diced
  • 500ml (2 cups) tomato passata (U.S Readers = tomato sauce!)
  • 125ml (½ cup) dry white wine
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • small bunch fresh basil, leaves torn
  • 1 ball fresh mozzarella, drained and torn
  • 50g (½ cup) Parmesan cheese, grated
  • black pepper

Instructions

    1. PREPARE: Heat the oven to 180°C / 350°F / Gas 4. Halve the chicken breasts horizontally so you have 4 evenly thick pieces. Season well with salt, pepper and oregano, pressing them onto the chicken.
    2. FLOUR AND CRUMB: Spread the flour over a plate, pour the egg into a shallow bowl, whisk together the breadcrumbs and Parmesan and spread over a second plate. Working with one piece of chicken at a time, toss the chicken in the flour, dip in the beaten egg, then press in the breadcrumb mixture so that both sides are well coated. Repeat with all remaining pieces.
    3. FRY THE CHICKEN: Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. When the oil is hot, cook the chicken for 2 minutes on each side, then remove to a rack. Rinse and wipe out the frying pan.
    4. MAKE THE SAUCE: To make the sauce, heat the oil in the same frying pan that you used for the chicken. Cook the garlic for 1 minute until just fragrant. Pour in the passata and white wine, then stir through the oregano, salt and sugar. Season well with black pepper, then bring to a simmer. Cook for 10 minutes until thickened. Remove from the heat and stir in half of the basil.
    5. ASSEMBLE AND BAKE: To assemble the dish, spread 4 tablespoons of the sauce over the base of a baking dish large enough to hold the chicken in one layer. Place the chicken on top, pour over the remaining tomato sauce, leaving some crumbed edges visible and top each breast with mozzarella and Parmesan. Drizzle over a little more olive oil, then bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes until the cheese is melted and bubbling.
    6. SERVE AND ENJOY: Divide the chicken between 2-4 warmed plates, sprinkle over the remaining basil leaves and serve immediately with a crisp green salad.

Notes

Tomato passata or passata rustico is pureed, strained tomatoes, often sold in the USA as 'tomato sauce' or tomato puree. Look for a good quality one made from Italian tomatoes for best results.

Depending on your appetite (and the size of your chicken breasts!), this recipe can feed 2-4 people, but if there are any leftovers they heat up wonderfully!

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 2-4
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 1060Total Fat: 58gSaturated Fat: 19gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 35gCholesterol: 267mgSodium: 2718mgCarbohydrates: 53gFiber: 5gSugar: 10gProtein: 70g

Nutrition information is calculated automatically and isn’t always accurate.

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Jay Wadams
Jay Wadams

Jay Wadams is a cookbook author and food photographer. Jay is the author of two cookbooks: 'Tasty' (2017) and 'Simply Summer' (2019). Based in Italy 🇮🇹 Germany 🇩🇪 and Australia 🇦🇺.

Articles: 280

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