Chef Tacinelli’s version of this iconic dish is unforgettable. The extra-thin cutlet, coated with seasoned breadcrumbs and grated cheese, turns golden-crisp but stays juicy, thanks to a quick fry. A simple marinara gently infused with basil adds tangy brightness for a balanced, delectable dish our founder calls the best chicken Parm he's ever had.
Marinara Sauce: Trim root ends of the garlic cloves, then smash with the flat side of a knife. Peel off skins and set aside. In a 4-quart Dutch oven over high heat, add oil, followed by garlic. When the garlic begins to sizzle, add a pinch of salt. Stir and toast the garlic until deep golden brown, 3–4 minutes. Add red pepper flakes (optional, for heat), reduce temperature to low, and add tomatoes. Increase heat to medium, add two pinches of salt and two pinches of sugar, and bring sauce to a simmer, 10–12 minutes. When simmering, taste and adjust for seasoning. Turn off heat.In a large bowl, add two large sprigs of basil, then pour the sauce over the basil. Set aside to steep while making the chicken. (Makes 2 quarts. Once cool, remove and discard basil; store in an airtight container in the refrigerator up to 4–5 days or in the freezer up to 3 months).
Chicken: Place chicken breast on a flat surface lined with parchment paper. Carefully slice in half horizontally, into 2 equal pieces. Repeat with remaining chicken breasts to make a total of 8 cutlets.Place 1 chicken cutlet into a 1-gallon zip-top plastic bag. Use a small heavy-bottomed pan or meat mallet to pound the cutlet until it’s ¼-inch thick. Remove cutlet, set aside, and repeat with remaining cutlets.
Breading: In a large bowl, add seasoned breadcrumbs, both cheeses, granulated garlic, dried oregano, potato starch, 1 teaspoon salt, and 13 grinds of pepper. Toss to combine, then set aside. In another large bowl, add flour. Season with 1 teaspoon salt and 6 grinds of pepper; mix to combine. In a third bowl, add 4 eggs and beat with a fork or whisk until combined. Season with 1 teaspoon salt and 6 grinds of pepper.
One by one, dredge chicken cutlets in flour, shaking off excess flour. (Don't worry if the pounding has left some holes in the chicken—they'll soon be covered by breading and cheese!) Dip dredged chicken in the beaten egg, then into the breading mixture, carefully pressing the breading into the chicken so it adheres. Set breaded chicken on a rack fitted over a baking sheet until ready to fry. (Note: Chicken can be prepared to this point several hours in advance. Store the breaded cutlets in the refrigerator in an even layer, covered with plastic wrap or foil.)
Fry chicken: In a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat, add vegetable and olive oils. (There should be about ¼-inch of oil in the pan, so adjust amounts as needed.) Test the oil's temperature by adding a few drops of water: if the water sizzles right away, the oil is ready for frying. Gently lay the chicken into the oil away from you to avoid any splatters; the oil should reach a little more than halfway up the chicken. Let fry undisturbed for about 2 minutes. Use a spatula to check the underside of the cutlet for golden brown color. When it’s ready to turn over, gently and carefully flip chicken away from you and cook the other side, about 2 more minutes. (Use a second spatula or spoon if necessary, but try to avoid using tongs, as they might tear the delicate crust.) Chicken is cooked all the way through when it’s firm to the touch and both sides are golden brown. Drain fried cutlet on a baking sheet lined with paper towels, and sprinkle with salt while still hot. Repeat with remaining chicken cutlets, adding more oil as needed and keeping the temperature steady.
Assembly: Preheat broiler. In a large bowl, combine the three cheeses. Place chicken cutlets on a baking sheet in an even layer. (Depending on oven size, you can do this in batches, or use several baking sheets.) Remove basil and garlic cloves from Marinara Sauce and discard. Spread each cutlet with ¼ cup of sauce, leaving the edges uncovered, then top with a generous ¼ cup of cheese mixture. Place in the oven on a rack about 6 inches from the heat source. Don't step away—you don't want the cheese to burn! Broil 1 minute, checking after 30 seconds, and remove when cheese is fully melted and bubbly. Garnish with freshly torn basil leaves and serve immediately.