Gluten-Free Chicken Parmesan
Why This Recipe Works
Traditional chicken Parmesan is a minefield of potential problems—a soggy crust that doesn’t stick, overcooked chicken, and a chewy blanket of mozzarella—so we knew that making this recipe gluten-free was sure to pose some challenges. Typically, pounded chicken cutlets are dipped in flour, then beaten egg, and finally bread crumbs to create an even, crisp coating. After they are pan-seared, the cutlets are then covered with tomato sauce and cheese and baked. Turning to the flour coating first, we found that simply replacing the flour with cornstarch worked well for a gluten-free version. As an added bonus, the additional starch helped the coating cling well to the chicken and also contributed to creating and retaining crispness. The biggest challenge was the bread-crumb coating itself. We tried using store-bought gluten-free bread crumbs but found them to vary widely among brands, with many tasting bland, dusty, and gritty overall. So for the sake of consistency, we settled on making our own fresh crumbs in the food processor. But unlike homemade bread crumbs made with wheat bread, those made with gluten-free bread didn’t coat the chicken slices evenly. Because of gluten-free bread’s high starch content and lack of structure, the bread crumbs broke down into sticky pieces that clumped together. The solution was to dry them out in the oven and add cornstarch, which helped eliminate clumping. To keep the cheese topping tender, we mixed the usual shredded mozzarella cheese with an equal amount of creamy fontina. We placed the mixture directly on the fried cutlets and briefly broiled them to form a waterproof layer between the crust and the sauce. This cheese barrier delivered a juicy cutlet that kept its crunch.