From America's Test Kitchen Season 8: More Chicken in a Skillet
With a short ingredient list of only chicken breasts and Parmesan cheese plus one or two binders such as eggs or flour, Parmesan-crusted chicken breasts should be straightforward. But we found pale, wet, and gummy baked versions as well as bitter and burnt pan-fried versions. We wanted moist and tender chicken coated with a thin, crispy-yet-chewy, waferlike sheath of Parmesan cheese.
A standard breading in which we merely substituted cheese for the bread crumbs and flour was disappointing; the cheese didn’t provide the dry base to which the rest of the coating would stick. So we went back to flour, with a bit of Parmesan for flavor, and we left out the egg yolks to eliminate the eggy taste. For the outermost layer, shredding the cheese on the large holes of a box grater made a sturdier, more even crust, and a little flour added to this cheese helped the coating turn crisp. Pan-frying in a nonstick skillet prevented sticking, and keeping the heat no higher than medium browned the cheese without making it bitter. These cutlets were pale golden rather than deep golden brown, but the nutty, crisp Parmesan crust was everything we hoped it would be.
The chicken breasts will be easier to slice into cutlets if you freeze them for 15 minutes until firm but not fully frozen. To slice in half, place one hand on top of the breast to secure it, hold a chef's knife parallel to the cutting board, and slice through the middle of the breast horizontally. Note that 1/2 ounce of Parmesan is grated on the smallest holes of a box grater (or Microplane rasp grater); the remaining 6 ounces are shredded on the largest holes of the box grater (see photos below). We like the flavor that authentic Parmigiano-Reggiano lends to this recipe. Less-expensive DiGiorno Parmesan cheese can also be used, but the resulting cheese crust will be slightly saltier and chewier. Serve this chicken with a simple salad. Although the portion size (1 cutlet per person) might seem small, these cutlets are rather rich due to the cheese content. To make 8 cutlets, double the ingredients and cook the chicken in 4 batches, transferring the cooked cutlets to a warm oven and wiping out the skillet after each batch.