You Shouldn't Be Covering Your Chicken Parm In Cheese, According To Bobby Flay

A mainstay in Italian restaurants, diners, and pizzerias, chicken parmesan — also known as chicken parm or chicken parmigiana — is actually an American dish with roots in southern Italy. The comforting dish of red sauce, chicken cutlets, and cheese originated on the East Coast from Italian immigrants during the middle of the 20th century. Cooking the recipes from their motherland, Italian-Americans applied the same cooking technique they used for a similar eggplant dish back home — melanzane alla Parmigiana — to chicken, which, unlike in Italy, was affordable in the States. By 1950, chicken parmesan was made nationwide, showing up in cookbooks and un-Italian restaurants. And, today, it even fills subs and tops pizzas.

The multi-step dish is a labor of love, not a quick weekday meal. While it's prepared differently in each kitchen, it's pretty hard to mess up chicken parmesan, making it a safe choice even in cheaper establishments. Made from scratch, the dish takes considerable time to cook, between making a fresh marinara sauce, breading and frying chicken cutlets and assembling the final dish. However, busy home cooks have adapted the recipe using store-bought ingredients. For chef Bobby Flay and many of us, Sundays are for chicken parmesan.

In a recent Instagram video, Flay demonstrates how to make the perfect chicken parmesan. Flay walks viewers through each step of the recipe, from dredging the chicken in flour to putting on the final torn basil garnish, all while channeling his best Giada De Laurentiis pronunciation of the dish: "chicken parmigiano."

Flay's deconstructed chicken parmesan

Often chicken parmesan is served drowning in red sauce and cheese, whether on a platter or stuffed into a sandwich. Although tasty, the fried chicken gets soggy, losing that delicious crunch you worked hard to achieve. While it may look upside down, Flay's chicken parmesan has all the traditional components without compromising the chicken's wonderful texture.

Flay begins his Instagram video by preparing the chicken cutlets. He dredges boneless, skinless chicken breasts in the typical three-step breading technique starting with all-purpose flour. An egg wash and panko breadcrumbs follow, seasoning each component. The large cutlets are fried in canola oil until golden brown and cooked through.

Flay tops each chicken cutlet with two thick slices of bufala mozzarella, exposing the cutlets' edges to prevent the cheese from making them soggy. He transfers the cheese-crowned chicken to a baking sheet in the oven for a few minutes to lightly melt the cheese. The finished cutlets are then placed on top of a pool of homemade marinara sauce, again minimizing the risk of creating soggy chicken by resisting pouring the sauce directly on top.

To finish the dish, Flay adds a generous sprinkling of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese for umami, torn fresh basil leaves, and a delicate mound of peppery arugula for fresh contrast. The mouthwatering dish is served at Flay's Las Vegas restaurant, Amalfi — which opened at Caesars Palace in May 2021 — and can be easily replicated by home cooks for a Sunday meal the whole family will devour.