Feeling like you’ve not thought about parmesan chicken enough recently? Come with us as we have a look at its history and celebrate its cheesy goodness.
A friend gone too soon
For a period earlier this year it felt like everyone was talking about one food – KFC’s seasonal special, Parmesan Truffle Chicken. Despite the ravenous reaction of Singaporeans, with food bloggers across the city hailing the dish as a ‘decadent treat’ that had a depth of flavour uncommon to fried chicken, KFC only sold the product for one month. Happily, KFC brought the dish back again for another period in May – at which point we all leapt from our desks and ran to the nearest store – but that was its final appearance. In a terrible moment for Singaporeans across the city, the Parmesan Truffle Chicken retreated once more into our memories, maybe never to be seen or eaten again. In an effort to relive the memory of those crisp chicken pieces, we’ve found out a little bit about the dish from which KFC drew their inspiration – the chicken parmigiana.
Parmesan chicken or chicken parm?
Like many of our favourite melted cheese and meat combinations, the chicken parmigiana (or chicken parmesan) is a product of the Italian-American community in the United States. It became popular in the 1950s and is an offshoot of the traditional Italian dish Parmigiana (made with aubergines), with the newly arrived Italian-Americans taking advantage of the cheaper meat in America to make Parmigiana a more substantial meal. There is no one way right way to make parmesan chicken, and if we tried to tell you there was, there would be uproar. But, the basic principle is that chicken gets coated in breadcrumbs made with garlic powder and parmesan, and then fried (some people would say deep-fried, depending on the state of your coronary artery) until crispy and golden brown. Its then served with a classic marinara sauce – onion, garlic, chilli flakes and tomatoes.
How to eat parmesan chicken is another source of contention but, given how delicious the core dish is here, with its crispy but nutty breadcrumbs, soft chicken and beautifully acidic tomato sauce, it is difficult to eat it wrong. If you don’t like the sound of the tomato sauce, which isn’t compulsory, the chicken can be served with pasta, fries, or other vegetables – kale is a great option. In some places, for when you’re feeling extremely indulgent and like you’ve got a couple of hours afterwards to digest, you can get chicken parmesan with melted mozzarella on top. This is so tasty because the contrasting textures and flavours of the two cheeses work fantastically well together – nutty against creamy.
How to get your fix
Sadly, it doesn’t look like KFC are bringing parmesan chicken back to Singapore. But, if you’re feeling inspired by our trip through the history of its culinary forefathers, then you can always pop down to an Italian-American restaurant and ask them to whip you up the original.