At Tagliata, chef Julian Marucci’s chicken parm is a best-seller — and it’s no surprise. His detail-oriented nature is palpable in each and every step, from sourcing the ingredients to adding his finishing flourishes. “I love the simplicity of this classic dish,” Marucci says. “It’s definitely one of my favorite comfort foods from my childhood that we grew up eating and has become one of our most loved dishes at Tagliata.”
For his play on the classic, only the best ingredients will do. He opts for local, organic, air-chilled chicken breasts — eschewing the water frequently used in the industry produces tender meat with better flavor. He recommends seeking out fresh mozzarella from an Italian deli where it’s often made and sold on the very same day. And his tomato sauce is made with San Marzano tomatoes grown in the volcanic soil around Mount Vesuvius, specifically Cento organic or Bianco Dinapoli.
But sourcing is only part of the equation. To coax out the best texture and flavor from his chicken, he bathes it overnight in a buttermilk marinade seasoned with garlic and basil before tossing it in a mixture of panko and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese spiked with fresh herbs and Calabrian chile. Post-dredge, the chicken is chilled once more, which, Marucci says, helps the breading adhere even better to the surface of the meat.
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While the chicken chills, you’ve got ample time to make Marucci’s simple tomato sauce, which is crucially infused with basil only once it comes off the heat. This allows the flavor and fragrance of the basil to permeate into the sauce slowly without cooking it,” Marucci says. The resulting sauce retains all of the aroma of the basil and none of the bitterness.
Once the chicken has been browned on the stovetop, it’s doused with sauce and basil before that fresh mozzarella is added, blanketing the basil to keep it from burning in the hot oven. At 450º F, it only takes eight minutes for the cheese to become brown and bubbly.
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, preferably local or organic, air-chilled
- 2 cups buttermilk
- 5 basil leaves
- ½ tsp. chili flakes
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- Pinch of kosher salt
- Pinch of black pepper
- 2 cans crushed San Marzano tomatoes (Cento organic or Bianco Dinapoli)
- ½ onion, minced
- 3 cloves garlic
- ½ tsp. chili flakes
- 1 sprig basil
- ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- Salt to taste
- 4 cups panko
- 1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
- 1 Tbsp. sweet Calabrian chili powder
- 1 Tbsp. minced chives
- 1 Tbsp. minced flat leaf parsley
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. black pepper
Butterfly the chicken and slightly press to flatten. Combine the buttermilk, basil, chili, garlic, salt and pepper, and pour over the chicken into a Ziploc bag. Refrigerate overnight.
Meanwhile, make the tomato sauce. Sauté the garlic, onion and chili in olive oil. Add the tomatoes, and simmer for 35 minutes over low heat. Remove from heat, add the basil and cool completely before chilling. Remove the basil once the sauce has chilled.
The next day, combine the panko, Parmigiano-Reggiano, Calabrian chili powder, chives, parsley, salt and pepper. Dredge the chicken in the mixture, making sure to press firmly so it sticks. Lay on a tray and chill.
Preheat the oven to 425 ºF.
Heat about ¼ inch of canola oil in a large skillet over medium heat, and cook the chicken until golden brown on both sides and cooked through in the center, about 4 to 5 minutes per side. Lay on a sheet pan or baking dish. Spoon the sauce over the chicken, and add a few leaves of torn basil and the mozzarella cheese. Bake for 6 to 8 minutes, until the cheese is melted and golden brown.
Finish the plating with tomato sauce on the bottom of the plate and garnish with torn fresh basil leaves.
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