Chicken Parmigiana

In Australia, this dish features on the menu in most Italian restaurants, and in a lot of pubs – it’s popular and it’s everywhere.

Map of Australia

It’s so popular there, that once when I made it, it came out in the shape of Australia! Excuse the greasy plate!

Here in Mauritius, we’ve served it to friends (and family from Belfast – hi guys!), and were surprised to find that they’d never heard of it.

And nor do Italian restaurants in Mauritius serve it.

I thought this was curious, so I googled it, and found that it isn’t Italian – it’s specific to countries where there was a lot of Italian immigration – Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and parts of the US.

I’m guessing that it was difficult to find veal back in the 50’s – so the early migrants substituted chicken when making the classic Veal Parmigiana.

And I’m so happy that they did – it’s delicious: a crumbed chicken schnitzel smothered in tomato sauce, covered with grated cheese, and grilled.

It’s usually served with chips or wedges, and a salad. If we have visitors, we substitute boiled baby potatoes tossed in butter and parsley for the chips, as it’s easier to make for a crowd.

I don’t have a real recipe for this as it’s something I just make on the fly, but I’ll do my best.

Tomato Sauce

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1 can tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup red wine (optional)
  • 1 bayleaf
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • salt and pepper

Saute the onion and garlic in the oil till opaque, add everything else, and bring to the boil.

Lower the heat and simmer until the liquid has reduced and you’re left with a thick sauce – about 20 minutes. Remove the bayleaf.

Allow to cool a little, and either blend it to get a smooth sauce, or mash it with a fork for a chunkier version.

Blending the tomato sauceNotes:

  • If you’re busy (or lazy!) you can use your favourite purchased tomato-based pasta sauce
  • You can freeze any leftover tomato sauce in ice cube trays, then store them in a freezer bag for future meals

Chicken

If you’re lucky enough to have a butcher that sells crumbed schnitzels, buy some. Or you can ask the butcher to butterfly and crumb some chicken breasts for you. And failing that, you’ll have to do it yourself:

  • chicken breasts
  • salt
  • 1 egg (will crumb 2-3 breasts)
  • a little water
  • plain flour
  • dried breadcrumbs
  • olive oil (or other vegetable oil)

Pressing down with the flat of your hand and starting at the thicker edge of the chicken, cut across horizontally till you almost reach the other side – click here to watch a video on how to do it.

Butterflying the chickenButterflying the chickenOpen it up, and flatten the butterflied breast slightly, by lightly bashing it with a kitchen mallet or a rolling pin – all you’re trying to do at this stage is to even up the thickness a bit – click here for another video (though this seems to be for making paper-thin chicken!).

Butterflied and bashed

The one on the left is just butterflied, and the one on the right has been flattened. I think I just stated the obvious.

Sprinkle each breast with a little salt.

Set out 3 plates – one with flour, one with the beaten egg mixed with a little water, and the third with breadcrumbs.

Dip both sides of the chicken in flour, ensuring it’s completely covered, then repeat with the egg, and finally the breadcrumbs. While it’s still sitting in the crumbs, push down with the flat of your hand to ensure the breadcrumbs stick to the egg wash. Turn it over and do it again.

Flouring the chickenPour enough oil into a frying pan to cover the base of the pan, and place over a medium heat – sprinkle a few breadcrumbs into the oil – it’s ready to go when it starts to sizzle.

Fry the schnitzel for a couple of minutes on both sides until golden brown, adding more oil if necessary.

Frying the schnitzelDrain on kitchen towels.

Putting it Together

  • tomato sauce
  • grated cheddar
  • grated parmesan (optional)
  • chopped parsley for presentation

Place the schnitzels on a baking tray.

Cover with tomato sauce, and cheese.

Ready to grillNote: You can prepare it till this stage, then leave it until you’re ready to eat.

Place the Chicken Parmigiana under the grill (broiler) until the cheese bubbles and starts to brown. Sprinkle with parsley.

Ready to serveIt’s also delicious cold the next day (Alf sometimes has it in a sandwich – I wouldn’t go that far!), but it can easily be re-heated under the grill or in the microwave.

Cleaning your Wooden Chopping Board

This isn’t part of the recipe obviously, but I may as well throw it in – I saw it on the Better Homes & Garden Australia website. It’s especially necessary after cutting chicken on the board.

After washing your board, rub salt all over it. Allow the salt to dry, then rinse the board well, and let it air dry.

The salt draws out moisture and bacteria from the wood, and sterilises it.

They recommend doing it once a month.

Back to the Chicken

I hope you try it – it’s much easier than it sounds, especially if you can buy ready-made schnitzels.

If you do, let me know how it went.

Bon appetit!

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6 thoughts on “Chicken Parmigiana

    • It works brilliantly – the board ends up looking clean and bleached and smells of nothing.
      I used to pour bleach on, after washing it – this feels much safer and more effective.
      You’re supposed to oil it afterwards, but as haven’t tried that yet and so don’t know how it’ll work here, I won’t suggest it until I have a go. Knowing the climate, it might go rancid or something! Who would know?!!

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