The Parmo (aka The Parmesan)

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

As many of you know, I lived in Middlesbrough for several years. I studied there and became familiar with the Parmesan (more commonly known as the "Parmo"). The parmo is Teesside's regional post-pub take away and is actually quite simple to make.

It's a fairly simple premise. Chicken breast or pork escalopes are flattened out, covered in egg and breadcrumbs and fried. The crispy meat is then covered with bechamel sauce and grated cheese and grilled until melty and golden. It is usually served with chips and salad, but there is also the option to add extra toppings too, some of the more popular variations being mushroom and onion, or pepperoni and chillies.

Al and I have been making parmos for a while but have been generally quite lazy. We settled for slightly soggy breadcrumbs as our grill was unreliable in Middlesbrough. We now have working appliances, a bit more space and extra hungry mouths to feed so we felt like we should do an ode to this wonderful beast that nursed us in our alcohol fuelled nights and still stayed good enough for breakfast the next morning (too much info?).

4 chicken breasts
1 beaten egg
Golden breadcrumbs
Sunflower oil
1oz butter
1oz flour
1 pint milk
Salt and pepper
More grated cheese than is reasonable to consume in one sitting

Make up a white sauce by putting the milk, flour and butter into a saucepan. Bring to the boil over a medium heat whisking constantly to prevent lumps. Season well with salt and pepper and set aside.

Place a chicken breast in a sturdy food bag or between sheets of cling film and bash with a rolling pin until flattened and even. Repeat with the rest of the chicken.

Dip the chicken breasts in the beaten egg and follow with plenty of breadcrumbs. The amount you need will depend on the size of your chicken.

Heat some oil in a frying pan until quite hot. Fry the chicken on both sides until crispy. We did ours one at a time so as not to overcrowd the pan. It's not necessary to make sure the chicken is cooked through at this point as it will get cooked through in the oven.

Place the crispy chicken onto a rack above a baking tray and place in the oven for around 10 minutes.

Preheat the grill to a medium heat. Take the chicken from the oven and cover each piece with the white sauce. Sprinkle with plenty of cheddar and any additional toppings you fancy (Al's favourites are chillies and pepperoni or chorizo).

Place under the grill until the sauce is bubbling and the cheese is golden and melted. Serve with chips (and salad if you want to).

It's really quite a simple recipe but one that is quite close to our hearts. These taste like authentic parmos but are slightly healthier (lower fat milk, not so much cheese, not deep fried).

Parmos can be found under many guises around the world;

Wiener Schnitzel is the closest thing found in Germany and Austria and is traditionally made with veal.
Italian equivalents are Chicken Parmigiana which is served with a marinara sauce rather than a bechamel and Milanesa
In the USA, Chicken Fried Steak is a similar dish though made with beef steak coated in breadcrumbs.


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