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Chef Nyesha Arrington’s Classic Chicken Parmesan Recipe
Plateworthy is back, and to kick off Season Three, chef Nyesha Arrington demonstrates all the necessary steps and expert tips for making a classic chicken parmesan, which here comprises a delicious trinity of sauce, crispy chicken, and lots of melted mozzarella. Check out some of Arrington’s tips for each step, and find the full recipe below.
“When you think about chicken parm, you think about that amazing red sauce,” Arrington says as she begins dicing onions, carrots, and celery for her mirepoix. One trick to making great red sauce is adding tomato paste. “Tomato paste loves to be roasted,” she explains. “[Roasting] the tomato paste is a very important step,” as it infuses flavor into the oil already in the pot. Another trick? Spooning small batches of the finished sauce into a hand-cranked food mill to smooth out the texture without over emulsifying it, as a blender might do.
“Texture is key in chicken parm, right? So how do we get that texture? Crispy delicious breadcrumbs,” Arrington explains. The main focus here is the size of the crumb. It shouldn’t be too large, like a crouton, but also not too small — you don’t want breadcrumbs with the consistency of flour. Something in between will create the perfect crunch.
You could buy chicken pieces, but that’s not the Arrington way. “A whole chicken breakdown is one of my favorite things to do,” she says. Check out the video or the recipe below to see how she takes a five-pound bird and carves it down to a deboned half-chicken piece — this means an entire breast and thigh together, but with the bones removed.
When it comes to breading meat, the process of flour, egg, breadcrumb, repeat might sound familiar. But Arrington’s dredging process goes a bit further, repeating a dip in both the flour and the egg to give the chicken even more crunch in the end.
After placing the chicken in a large skillet with heated neutral oil, Arrington adds some garlic cloves, basil, and thyme to the pan the latter two not only help flavor the chicken but will also be used as a garnish later.
After taking the chicken parm out from under the broiler, Arrington tops the finished pieces with grated parmesan cheese, a pinch of flaky salt, black pepper, and the fried herbs saved from the chicken frying step.
Cutting a piece, she lets the cheese stretch from plate to fork to mouth and takes a big bite. “Wow, this is like hugging my soul right now,” she declares. “[It’s] beautiful, vibrant, fresh, reimagined, but classic. Do you think Tony Soprano would like this?”
With this recipe, you can decide that for yourself.