Culinary Secrets: Chicken parmesan a savory variation on tradition
by Tomm Johnson / For the Tracy Press
Jul 12, 2012 | 2928 views | 0 0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
There is a lot of folklore behind chicken parmesan, so I will tell you what I have been taught.

The original dish was eggplant parmesan, but when Italian immigrants came to the United States, they discovered it was more of a meat-and-potatoes kind of country, so they changed it to veal parmesan.

Over the years, the dish has evolved; in most cases the parmesan cheese is now mozzarella, and in this case the meat has changed to chicken.

Whatever way you prefer it, this is a great dish to enjoy with your friends and family.

If you’ve never tried making chicken parmesan before, there’s a video of my cooking show on my website. Watch me cook it, and soon you will be cooking it like a pro.

• Tomm Johnson, a professional chef, lives in Mountain House and shares his culinary expertise through his website, He can be reached by email at or via, under the name “Culinary Secrets with Chef Tomm.”


4 chicken breast halves, boneless and skinless

2 cups panko bread crumbs

1 tablespoon dried oregano

1 tablespoon dried thyme

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

2 cups all-purpose flour, for dredging

6 large eggs, beaten

1/8 cup water

1 quart vegetable oil, as needed, for frying

8 cups tomato sauce (see recipe following)

1 pound grated mozzarella

1 pound spaghetti

Parsley, to garnish

Preheat the oven to 400.

Place the chicken breasts between plastic wrap and pound out to about ½ inch thick.

In one bowl, mix flour, salt and pepper. In a second medium-sized bowl, whisk together eggs and milk until fully incorporated. In a third bowl, stir together bread crumbs, oregano and thyme.

Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and set nearby.

Working with one piece at a time, dredge the chicken in flour, shaking off the excess. Dip it into the egg mixture, ensuring that it is fully covered, and then dip it into the crumbs. Place the parchment-lined pan in a single layer, without overlapping the chicken pieces.

Repeat until all the chicken has been breaded.

In a large pot for cooking pasta, bring 1 gallon of water to a boil. Salt until it tastes like the sea.

Fill a large sauté pan with oil to a depth of ½ inch. Over medium heat, warm the oil until a deep-frying thermometer registers 350 degrees. Meanwhile, line a sheet pan with paper towels.

Fry one breast at a time until golden brown on each side, about 2 to 4 minutes total. Using tongs, transfer the fried chicken to the towel-lined sheet pan and season with salt to taste.

When all the chicken has been fried, transfer them to another sheet pan. Pour a good amount of tomato sauce over them and cover with mozzarella. Bake until golden brown, about 5 to 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, boil spaghetti until done; strain.

In a clean sauté pan, warm the remaining sauce, top with drained pasta and mix until thoroughly combined.

To serve, divide pasta and sauce into four bowls; top each with chicken parmesan and garnish with parsley.

— Tomm Johnson, Culinary Secrets with Chef Tomm


¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

¾ cup onions, finely diced

5 cloves garlic, sliced

8 cups crushed tomatoes

10 leaves basil, torn

Salt and pepper to taste

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, heat the oil. Sweat the onion and garlic until the onions are translucent, 4 to 6 minutes.

Add the tomatoes and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer, cover, and cook 10 to 15 minutes.

Add basil and season with salt and pepper.
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