There’s a whole lot to love about chicken Parmesan—juicy chicken, rich cheesy flavor, zippy tomato sauce—but it’s also a dish that seems to defy logic. Recipes typically call for the chicken cutlets to be shallow-fried but then doused in sauce, a process that more often than not results in a flooded, flabby crust. What good is it to take the time to create a crisp crust if it’s to turn soggy as soon as it’s sauced?
Tired of Soggy Chicken Parm? Waterproof It
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This was the question on the mind of my colleague Andrea Geary when she set out to develop her chicken Parmesan recipe. After frying countless cutlets, she identified a key issue with each component of chicken Parm that contributes to the sogginess problem:
- The crust: The bread crumbs traditionally used to coat the cutlets are starch, and starch readily absorbs liquid and turns soft.
- The sauce: Completely covering the crusted cutlets in sauce exposes the most crust to the most liquid.
- The cheese: Waiting around for the cheese to melt in the oven gives the sauce plenty of time to saturate and soften the crust.
One by one, Andrea addressed these issues, and now you can use her discoveries to improve your own version of the dish. Here are three ways to waterproof your chicken Parmesan.
- Make a less-absorbent crust: Instead of a crust made entirely of breadcrumbs, use just ½ cup breadcrumbs to ¾ cup Parmesan cheese. The cheese contains no starch and makes the crust significantly more moisture-proof.
- Make a thicker sauce and use less of it: Cook the sauce longer to reduce water and make it thicker. Put just a small amount on the cutlet, and serve the rest at the table.
- Switch the position of the sauce and the cheese: Instead of spooning sauce directly onto the cutlet and then adding the cheese (we use a mixture of shredded mozzarella and Fontina) on top of that, put the cheese on first. Once it melts, it forms a waterproof barrier that protects the cutlet from the sauce.
Try Andrea’s discoveries, and you’ll find that sogginess in chicken Parmesan is banished for good.
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Absolutely the best chicken ever, even the breast meat was moist! It's the only way I'll cook a whole chicken again. Simple, easy, quick, no mess - perfect every time. I've used both stainless steel and cast iron pans. great and easy technique for “roasted” chicken. I will say there were no pan juices, just fat in the skillet. Will add to the recipe rotation. Good for family and company dinners too. I've done this using a rimmed sheet pan instead of a skillet and put veggies and potatoes around the chicken for a one-pan meal. Broccoli gets nicely browned and yummy!
Absolutely the best chicken ever, even the breast meat was moist! It's the only way I'll cook a whole chicken again. Simple, easy, quick, no mess - perfect every time. I've used both stainless steel and cast iron pans. great and easy technique for “roasted” chicken. I will say there were no pan juices, just fat in the skillet. Will add to the recipe rotation. Good for family and company dinners too.
Amazed this recipe works out as well as it does. Would not have thought that the amount of time under the broiler would have produced a very juicy and favorable chicken with a very crispy crust. Used my 12" Lodge Cast Iron skillet (which can withstand 1000 degree temps to respond to those who wondered if it would work) and it turned out great. A "make again" as my family rates things. This is a great recipe, and I will definitely make it again. My butcher gladly butterflied the chicken for me, therefore I found it to be a fast and easy prep. I used my cast iron skillet- marvellous!
John, wasn't it just amazing chicken? So much better than your typical oven baked chicken and on par if not better than gas or even charcoal grilled. It gets that smokey charcoal tasted and overnight koshering definitely helps, something I do when time permits. First-time I've pierced a whole chicken minus the times I make jerk chicken on the grill. Yup, the cast iron was not an issue.