Many generations ago, chicken was considered pareve — neither dairy nor meat, like fish. Changes in Jewish law mean kosher-keeping Jews today cannot enjoy chicken with melted cheese or any other dairy product. How then may we prepare kosher pollo parmigiana, aka. chicken parmesan?
Chef Gary suggests vegan cheese! There is aquafaba mozzarella, made from chickpea brine. There is also cashew nut mozzarella. These two will melt properly and mimic real dairy cheese.
Another tip: Have butcher trim excess fat and pound off chicken to even thickness (or rather, thinness). For bread crumbs, I prefer Jason’s.
- 2 pounds kosher chicken breasts
- Kosher salt and ground black pepper
- 3/4 cup fresh parsley, minced
- 1 cup bread crumbs
- 2 large eggs
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour, enough to dredge
- Pure olive oil (to sautee)
Frying Station Setup
Have two shallow dishes ready, along with foil or wax paper-lined platters to place breaded chicken breasts waiting for cooking.
Rinse and pat dry chicken breasts. I suggest using nitrile food grade gloves. Season the flour with salt and pepper. Place into a shallow dish.
Crack and season the eggs with salt and pepper, beating with a few
teaspoons of water.
Place on ample amount of bread crumbs into yet another dish.
Lightly season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper. Dip each breast into the flour and then dust off any excess flour. Next, dip the coated breasts into the egg wash and then coat with the breadcrumbs. Place the breasts onto the platter awaiting cooking. At this point, the breaded chicken breasts can be refrigerated for up to a day or frozen for a few months. To freeze, place one or two breasts into a Ziploc-type freezer bag. This way, the frying can be done at a different time, splitting the cooking project into two different days.
The flour is meant to coat the chicken so the egg will adhere. This will allow the breadcrumbs to stick to the chicken. If you cook the chicken immediately, allow it to stay at room temperature for up to an hour. This will prevent the oil from dropping in temperature, and also promotes breadcrumb adhesion.
Come fry with me, let’s fry, let’s fry away
Coat the inside of a skillet with olive oil or an oil alternative. Bring to medium high heat and place two or three breasts in the pan, carefully! Use enough oil and keep the heat high enough so the chicken browns and doesn’t soak up oil.
At just under two minutes the breasts should be turned. One minute on the flipped side should finish the cooking. Remove the chicken from the pan and drain on paper towels or parchment paper. We may stop here, and refrigerate the cooked breasts (after cooling) for one day or freeze for several weeks. If frozen thaw in fridge overnight, do the same with frozen raw breasts.
Now we make it Italian. Place the chicken breasts into a baking dish, cover with Chef Gary’s amazing red sauce (look in last week’s issue) and top with thinly sliced “fake” mozzarella. Put this into a heated oven. Heat at about 325 degrees to 380 depending upon your oven and the coolness of the chicken. When the cheese is melted and golden, mangia. Essen, fressen, as my old friend Rocky Graziano said you too tin anyway!
The Rock, as he was called before Duanne Johnson, lived across the street from me when I grew up. He shopped in my father’s supermarket. He taught me how to fight — more importantly, he taught me how to not fight. More on that in a later issue.
Enjoy your pollo parmigiana with garlic bread, a tossed salad, Pinot Grigio or Montepulciana D’Abruzzi, and most of all, with friends and family.