For Extra Flavorful Chicken Parmesan, Marinate The Meat First

It can be hard to nail down the best part of chicken parmesan. There's the crackling crumb crust that, when done right, almost shatters. The copious amounts of cheese that bring an unctuous quality that's hard to beat. And who can forget the deep, piquant tomato sauce that adds moisture and complexity, cutting through all that richness? But without the chicken, the whole thing doesn't even get off the ground. Too often the chicken is an afterthought, when it should be front of mind. So, if you want to supercharge your next chicken parmesan, consider marinating the meat before it gets fried for extra flavorful results.

A marinade serves two purposes here. First, it clearly adds flavor to the chicken. Taking this into account, you want to consider what the chicken is working with in the dish before applying just any marinade willy-nilly. As stated, there is cheese, a breadcrumb crust, and sweet, tart tomato sauce. Consider what else would be complementary and balancing as you choose the all-important seasonings for your marinade.

Second, a good marinade can tenderize the meat bathed in it. There's a plethora of ingredients that soften tough meat fibers, so be sure to choose the right ones for the dish. Pineapple juice, for instance, probably won't play well with chicken parmesan, but vinegars, citrus juices, and wine could find a happy home to work their magic in the dish.

Choosing the right chicken parmesan marinade

Chicken parmesan is an Italian American staple, so focusing on that cuisine is a great place to start when creating a marinade recipe. The cuisine pulls no punches and delivers big bold flavors that are chock full of herbs, spices, and other aromatics. So feel free to go big with your marinade in kind.

A great base would be a dry Italian white wine, such as a pinot grigio or a verdicchio. Either would add a nice touch of acid to the meat while simultaneously tenderizing it. A bit of olive oil will help bring out the fat soluble flavors in the marinade's other ingredients; those may include salt, a touch of minced or grated garlic, dried or fresh herbs like rosemary, basil, and oregano, and even chili flakes or Calabrian chiles for some heat.

If the above sounds a bit too bold for your taste, dial things back and head in the direction of brightness. Wine can be swapped out with lemon juice for a fruity layer to the chicken parmesan that still tenderizes. Keep the olive oil and salt, of course, but swap out the other ingredients for fresh oregano and a few healthy cranks of cracked black pepper for a marinade that's not far off from salmoriglio. This combination will give your chicken parmesan a lemon-pepper vibe that fits perfectly with the dish's overall flavors.