It has been a hot minute since we have done a Cooking with ParmaDaze. Other than the low point that was the incident with the dog biscuits from 2017 we haven’t done a proper “parma recipe” segment since the great Tater tot & bacon creation of 2014, and while that one will definitely be hard to top, recent events have inspired me to dust off the old apron and once again get busy in the kitchen.
Why are we cooking today? Well recently an American YouTube channel known as Pretty Good Cooking posted a video recipe on how to make a chicken parma, or “Chicken Parmesan” as they call it, and they were nice enough to give ParmaDaze a shoutout and credit in the review. Check it out below -
It’s not like we are strangers to the American style parm. Over the years ( 2010, 2012, 2013 & 2016) we have hopped across the Pacific Ocean to sample what they have on offer. They’ve always been fine, but I’ve yet to have one that has knocked it out of the park, Phil’s claim of the “best ever” chicken parm definitely piqued my curiosity.
So in an unprecedented display of cross promotion I decided to fire up the stove and see if I can recreate the “best ever” American style chicken parmesan, and see just how well it holds up compared to an Aussie Parma.
Just a warning, “Cooking with ParmaDaze” posts are very photo heavy compared to regular reviews, so prepare your eyes for a slideshow of images with not a whole lot of text in between. Here we go.
My best approximation of the ingredients listed in the recipe. With the exception of the milk (I bought milk thinking I needed milk then realised later that I didn’t actually need milk) this is everything needed to create the PGC Parm. Check the description of the video if you would like a full list of ingredients.
First things first- Turn on the oven. Around 220 degrees C should be fine, get it good and preheated while we prep everything else.
Next up is the napoli sauce. The Americans call it “Marinara sauce” despite a very obvious lack of any sort of seafood.
First up we roughly chop and cook a few cloves of fresh garlic. Pro-tip, if you ever want to seem like you’re a good cook this is all you need to do. Just have some garlic frying in olive oil when your significant other gets home from work and you will get showered with praise along the lines of “oooo that smells good!” with almost zero effort. Then you swap it out with pasta you ordered from Uber Eats (you could even get away with McDonalds if your SO hasn’t got great attention to detail).
Next up is the tomatoes…
As the recipe video states I used two cans of whole, peeled tomatoes and crushed them by hand in the bowl. Now the napoli is one of my favourite parts of the end result of this dish (spoilers) so I’m gonna say that hand crushing the whole tomatoes is a very important step in the process.
The garlic is done browning at this stage, so into the pot the tomatoes go…
… along with some tomato paste, a basil leaf some brown sugar and a decent whack of dried chilli flakes. In place of oregano I used a pinch of Masterfoods “spaghetti bolognese herbs” that I had left over in the pantry but feel free to use whatever you’d like (within reason, don’t go replacing oregano with marshmallows or anything).
Now that the sauce is bubbling away (you can put it on a low heat on a back burner for now, let all that tomatoey goodness stew for a bit while you’re getting everything else ready) lets get started on the chicken.
Now I’m not sure what kind’ve giant mutant freak-chickens they’re breeding in the States but the chicken breasts Phil uses in the video are freaking huge. Ours aren’t nearly as big and normally I would hammer them out a little as to not be wasteful, but in the interests of authenticity and adherence to the recipe I’m cutting the chicken the same way Phil does in the video - Basically slicing diagonally across the tenderloin then butterflying the thick breast into two smaller chicken “steaks” (its hard to describe. Watch the video if that’s not clear).
This method is a bit wasteful as the lower half of the cut is too small to use as a schnitzel with these smaller breasts, but I put that aside and made it into a chicken curry the following night. Waste not want not.
Chicken is done, let’s set up our crumbing station.
In place of the “italian” crumbs I spotted this bag of Masterfoods pre-herbed crumbs designed specifically for schnitzels. Seemed like a decent substitution.
Into a bowl with about half of the bag of panko crumbs, dried parsley and some grated parmesan cheese. Give it a good mix then tip it out onto a plate along with a plate of plain flour and a bowl containing a couple of eggs that you’ve whisked up with a fork and you’ve got yourself…
… one kickass looking crumbing station!
Pretty self explanatory what you have to do here, no? Get a bit of chicken, roll it in the flour, then into the egg wash, then into the crumbs. In my reckless youth I would have sworn that you need to double-dip the chicken through the egg wash and crumbs, but I’m older and wiser now, one trip through the crumbs is all you need even though it may not look it.
Once you’ve crumbed your schnitzel its time to cook these suckers. Heat up a little olive oil in a frypan and chuck them on, 4-5 minutes on each side, watching carefully that they don’t burn.
this isn’t the final cook the chicken will have so don’t get too stressed about making sure they’re cooked all the way through at this stage. Depending on how much chicken you’ve got you may need to cook a few batches.
Now as we are doing an American style “parm” as opposed to an Aussie parma we won’t be busting out the garden salad and McCain beer battered oven chips this time around. It’s time to start working on our spaghetti. Nothing too serious yet, just grab a pot, fill it with enough water to cook the amount of spaghetti you will need, season with a bit of salt and get it on the boil. Not using it just yet, but will need it soon.
The above photo isn’t at all necessary, but I worked for like 45 minutes scrubbing that stove top so it was camera ready and I’ll be damned if that goes unacknowledged.
As your schnitzels are done line them up on a baking tray. I used non stick baking paper for ease of picking them up later, but whatever floats your boat.
Hopefully your napoli sauce has been quietly simmering away on the back burner with the occasional stir. Grab that off the heat and spoon it out onto the schnitzels, no hard and fast rule on how much to use for each piece - listen to your heart.
That looks about right!
Next up is the mozzarella. I have a photo here of sliced mozzarella on the cutting board but we have been going a bit nuts on the photos this review. You guys know what sliced mozzarella looks like yeah?
Get your sliced mozzarella and do your best to give the schnitzels some good coverage…
… followed by a healthy sprinkle of grated parmesan on each, then whack the whole tray in the oven and set a timer for 20 minutes.
While the parmas are cooking its time to get started on the spag. Hopefully your salted water is merrily boiling away at this point, chuck in your spaghetti and let it cook until soft.
Now at this point I’m going to reveal something, dear reader, it’s going to be hard to hear but if we are both strong and stick together I think we can get through this.
This is the point where I made a mistake.
I know, I know, I’m sorry. I’m more disappointed in myself than you could possibly be.
Basically after I was done cooking the schnitzels I left the frying pan on the heat and forgot about it for a little too long, which meant all of the lovely oils and schnitzel bits that were supposed to imbue the spaghetti sauce with flavour turned to charcoal. It didn’t ruin anything, and I did my best to scrape out the majority of it, but it is visible in the sauce.
So next step is to get your totally not burnt pan, melt up some butter and stir in the full container of cream
What do you mean burnt?! That’s just … uhh… cracked pepper! Yep. definitely cracked pepper.
Once the cream has started to heat up its time to stir in the main event. The parmesan cheese. I used two 100g packs of cheese which I think may have been bordering on too much for me, but I am not going to be the person to tell you to include less parmesan cheese in your life, so just listen to your heart.
We need to let it simmer and thicken up a fair bit. Grab a spoon and stir in the parmesan.
Pro tip - If you’ve got some sort of portable device capable of playing YouTube videos you can have it playing in the kitchen while you cook the recipe and it will help to reduce any monumental stuff ups!
So hopefully by this point the spaghetti is cooked and the sauce has thickened up to a pleasant sauce-y consistency. Strain your spaghetti, dump it straight into the sauce and give it a good stir.
If you’ve timed it well the schnitzels in the oven should be pretty much done by now!
Lets open her up and see how the parmas faired during their time in the hot box
If you’re anything like me this is the point where you think to yourself “holy shit … this actually looks good”
Everything is ready!
I grabbed a bowl, served up some spaghetti, picked my favourite two mini schnitzels and gingerly placed them atop the noodles, then topped with a little bit of dried parsley that I had left from the crumbing.
Holy crap that looks good.
After some glamour shots I tucked in. Australians tend to complain a lot about how difficult it is to eat a parma that has been stacked on top of chips - Let me tell you something, we’ve had it easy. Because eating a parma that has been stacked on top of spaghetti is a whole new ball game.
It’s difficult, but good lord it was tasty. I said it at the start of the review but that rustic homestyle napoli sauce was an absolute triumph. I thought the liberal use of chilli flakes would come back to haunt me but they only added a slight note of heat, nothing overpowering in the slightest. I can’t overstate how much I enjoyed the schnitzels.
The spaghetti was good, super enjoyable, however it made the whole thing a very heavy meal that I honestly needed a nap after finishing. If I made it again (and I will definitely be making this again) I would sub out the spaghetti for a more traditional chips and salad but keep the parm exactly the way it is. I’d say it’s worth trying with the spaghetti at least once for the full experience, but it’s not the every-day meal that an Aussie parma so obviously is.
And there you have it! Big thanks to Phil and Pretty Good Cooking for the shoutout in your video - I hope we did your recipe justice. I can honestly say that this was the best chicken parm I’ve ever eaten, and I think this just might be the most successful “Cooking With ParmaDaze” we’ve ever done.
Hopefully this has made up for the dog biscuits.