What a staple of Melbourne pub life. Almost every pub through Melbourne serves their own version of a Parma and a pot, and there is not a single dish that causes more earnest, heated debate about its finer details.
Firstly, there are those that believe a parma is just a waste of a good chicken schnitzel. My wife included. In the interests of a “happy wife, happy life” I believe they are wonderful too.
But a real parma. Does it have ham? Should it be thick, barely tenderized at all? Or should it be thin, allowing almost an equal amount of crumbing to chicken ratio? Do you serve it with chips under the parma (hell no!)? Do you serve it with a side salad (a what?) Lots of cheese? not too much cheese? chilli in the tomato? basil in the tomato? The arguments are feverish, and grow more heated as the night continues.
So here enclosed are my ideas for MY perfect parma.
Serves 2, average cost, medium difficulty
- Two free range organic chicken breasts (try The Chicken Pantry at the Vic Market)
- a handful of flour
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 1 cup of breadcrumbs
- 1 cup of stuffing mix
- a mix of dried italian herbs (oregano, rosemary, sage, thyme, bay leaf)
- 1/4 cup of grated parmesan
- Salt and pepper
- Tomato passata (recipe below, or just use something like Dolmio’s)
- Mozzarella cheese
- 1/4 cup of grated parmesan
- Preheat your oven to 180 degrees
- Using an empty bottle or mallet, flatten out the chicken to your desired thickness. Try to get the chicken to an even thickness. To help prevent make a mess, put the chicken between two pieces of cling film before tenderizing (that’s a word right?).
- Set 4 plates out in a row to help crumb your chicken.
- On your first plate place the flour.
- The second has the egg
- The third has the breadcrumbs, stuffing mix, herbs, 1/4 cup of parmesan and salt and pepper
- The fourth is for the finished chicken.
- Lightly dust the chicken in the flour, and then cover with the egg mixture
- Finally, coat it in the breadcrumbs, packing the breadcrumbs tightly onto the chicken.
- Place on your fourth plate and repeat the process. A key to keeping your hands clean(ish) is to use one hand for the flour and egg and then the other hand for the breadcrumbs. That way you have at least one hand that isn’t soggy!
- Heat a very healthy glug of canola oil in the pan
- Pan fry both schnitzels on medium high until browned on both sides. (If you are making just schnitzels, pan fry until browned and then turn down and cook through)
- In an oven proof dish, spread a small amount of passata (where you will be placing the chicken)
- Place the chicken and then spread the passata over the top. Don’t be to pedantic about completely covering all of the chicken, some without the passata will be nice and crisp and crunchy.
- At this point you can add some ham if you like. Or be a little FANCY and add some ham off the bone.
- Cover the passata with a few slices of mozzarella
- Cook in the oven for 20 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through. If you haven’t tenderized it down much you may need to cook for longer. Don’t be afraid to cut into it to check. If the cheese is starting to burn, cover with some foil
- Serve with chips (on the side) and a cold beer.