The Trick to the Best-Ever Chicken Parm, According to Chef Lidia Bastianich

Lidia Bastianich + Chicken Parm

There are many different ways you can prepare chicken Parmesan. In fact, if the end product is delicious, we’d argue that there is no wrong way to go about it. And when it comes to perfecting the Italian dishes we love, nobody does it better than celebrity chef Lidia Bastianich. Earlier this year, Bastianich shared her version of chicken Parmesan with her viewers online, and we couldn’t help but be enamored with her secret to what looks to be the best chicken Parm ever.

The trick? Rather than using chicken breasts, Bastianich suggests using chicken thighs, which she explains stay far more moist throughout the cooking process than chicken breasts. In addition to this useful poultry tip, Bastianich's recipe also skips the sauce during the baking process. Yes, you read that right. This unorthodox method guarantees crispier chicken. Curious to know more about how Bastianich's Chicken Parmigiana Light? Read on for all you need to know to bring this version of the Italian classic home.

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How to Make Lidia Bastianich's Chicken Parmigiana Light

Start by spreading chicken thighs out on a cutting board, wrapping each one in plastic wrap and flattening with a mallet to create a thin, even piece of chicken. Next, set up your breading station with a bowl of flour, a bowl of beaten eggs and a bowl of bread crumbs. Coat each piece of chicken in flour, then dunk into the eggs before coating in bread crumbs. Bastianich suggests using your knuckles to press the bread into the meat to make sure the breadcrumbs stick to the chicken, but don't stick all over your fingertips.

In a large skillet, heat vegetable oil until it reaches 350°. Place each chicken thigh into the oil, making sure not to overcrowd the skillet. Cook each side until golden brown and the chicken thighs feel firm, about 8 minutes total. Chicken thighs are very forgiving, but it's important not to overcook them in this step. They'll cook more once you transfer them to the oven. Transfer the fried chicken to paper towels to drain.

Next, arrange the fried chicken thighs in a baking dish, season with salt and add 2-3 slices of fresh Roma tomatoes on top of each piece of chicken. Layer on some thinly sliced Fontina cheese. (If you’re using mozzarella, feel free to season further with more salt.) Finally, sprinkle grated Parmesan cheese over the top and place the dish in a 400° oven for about 10 minutes.

While the chicken bakes, slice and cube fresh Roma tomatoes, removing the seeds and keeping all of the juices. Add sliced garlic to a skillet preheated with olive oil and once it reaches a golden color, dump in the tomatoes and their juices. Add salt and red pepper flakes, stirring until incorporated and the tomatoes break down about half their size. Add basil and cover to let simmer while the chicken finishes in the oven.

Once the chicken is out of the oven and the sauce is complete, Bastianich plates things up by spooning some sauce onto her plate, then topping with a chicken thigh and garnishing with more basil. The chicken thighs make sure the meat is tender and moist and making the sauce separately and spreading it on the bottom of the plate just before serving means the breading on the chicken will stay nice and crispy instead of sogging out. Leave it to Lidia to make our dinners so much better!

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