It won’t take you long to realize that this isn’t an “exact” recipe. Rather it’s a roadmap to deconstructing chicken parmesan so that chicken stays super crisp. The idea is to cook everything separately (including the cheese…you’ll see), then assemble it at the end. It’s no harder than the classic version and may change your outlook on chicken parm forever.
1. Make the tomato sauce.
Click here for a full recipe if you like. Or if you want to wing it, sauté a few cloves of minced garlic in olive oil until fragrant, no more than a minute, then add a can of crushed tomatoes, salt, pepper, and a small pinch of sugar. Add some crushed red pepper flakes if you like a little spice, and a few basil leaves if you have some lying around. Bring to a bubble, then let it simmer gently while you cook everything else.
2. Bread and fry the chicken cutlets.
Heat the broiler (this is for the melting the cheese later; you just want to be ready). Heat about an inch of neutral oil or olive oil in a deep skillet over medium-high heat. While it’s heating, set up three bowls: one with all-purpose flour, one with a beaten egg or two, and one with panko bread crumbs. Season all of them with salt and pepper. This is your dredging station. Season chicken cutlets (or chicken breasts pounded to uniform thickness) with salt and pepper. Dredge each piece of chicken first in the flour, then in the egg, and finally in the bread crumbs, pressing to help them adhere. When the oil is ready (a pinch of flour will sizzle immediately), add the cutlets to the skillet, working in batches if necessary. Cook the chicken, regulating the heat if necessary so that there is a constant sizzle but no burning. After 2 minutes, rotate the chicken (do not flip) so that the outside edges are moved toward the center and vice versa. When the pieces are nicely browned on one side, after about 3 minutes, turn them over. Cook on the second side until the cutlets are firm to the touch and the breadcrumb coating is brown and crisp, another 2 to 3 minutes. (To check for doneness, cut into a piece with a thin-bladed knife; the center should be white or slightly pink.) Transfer the…