Chicken Parmesan (also known as Parmesan chicken or chicken Parmigiana) is a breaded dish that is baked in tomato sauce. It is not commonly thought of as a barbecue recipe due to the demand for tomato sauce. That, however, does not have to be an issue for the grill cook.
Quick facts you can share with your friends
- Parma is an Italian region well-known for its cheese, among other things. As one might expect, Parmesan cheese is an important component of chicken Parmesan.
- However, there is some disagreement over the origin of the phrase; some Sicilian sources credit the title parmigiana to a description of how the dish is prepared (in layers), rather than the ingredients, which may include cheeses from the Parma region.
- More importantly, the primary cheese element is mozzarella rather than Parmesan. Mozzarella is a semi-soft cheese that has a lot of moisture. This BBQ recipe calls for both Parmesan and mozzarella cheese.
Traditionally, chicken parmesan is made by dredging chicken breasts, which are sometimes pounded thin, in an egg wash, then in flour, dipped in egg wash again, and finally dredged in bread crumbs.
The chicken is then placed in a baking dish, topped with mozzarella and Parmesan cheese, and drenched in tomato sauce before being cooked. Melting cheese and tomato sauce can be difficult for grill chefs.
These issues are addressed in this article with a meal that can be made fully on an outdoor barbecue.
Recipe for Grilled Chicken Parmesan
The recipe for grilled chicken Parmesan is accomplished in three easy steps and makes four servings.
- Prepare the tomato sauce
- Grill the chicken
- Combine chicken, sauce and cheese
- Stewed tomatoes–one 28 ounce can or two 14 ounce (approximate) cans
- Shredded mozzarella cheese (6 to 8 ounces, shredded works better than sliced in this recipe).
- Four skinless chicken breasts
- Two teaspoons oregano
- Bread crumbs
- Freshly ground pepper
Optional Additions to Tomato Sauce:
- Add ¼ of a sweet onion (Vidalia or Maui, for example)
- ¼ clove of garlic
- 1-2 leaves of fresh basil (or 1 teaspoon crushed, dried basil leaves)
Preparing Chicken Parmesan for the Outdoor Grill
This recipe does not call for pounding the chicken breasts or breading them in advance of cooking. The entire recipe can be prepared on the grill.
Preparing the Grill and Sauce
- Lightly coat the chicken breasts in olive or canola oil. Sprinkle lightly with pepper.
- Turn on the grill and adjust the temperature to high.
- Meanwhile, put approximately 28 ounces of stewed tomatoes and oregano in a blender. If desired, add onions and garlic. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Place the tomato mixture in a cast iron skillet.
- Reduce the heat on the grill to low-medium, about 300-350 degrees.
- Place the skillet on the grate immediately over the heat.
The chef will cook the chicken right on the grill, next to the skillet. To keep the tomato sauce from scorching, stir it occasionally.
Grill the Chicken
- As the tomato sauce starts to thicken, grill the chicken breasts directly on the grate of the barbecue.
- At 300 degrees on the grill, the breasts, depending on size, will reach an internal temperature of about 150 degrees when cooked for about seven or eight minutes per side.
- If the tomato sauce thickens too much, just add red wine or chicken stock to thin it.
- At this point, transfer the chicken breasts to the frying pan and tomato sauce. Spoon the tomato sauce over the chicken breasts.
- Sprinkle shredded mozzarella cheese over the chicken breasts, then sprinkle bread crumbs on top of chicken.
- Finally, use a cheese shredder to cover the top of the chicken with Parmesan cheese.
Alternately, use prepared, grated Parmesan or Romano cheese over the mozzarella-bread crumb topping.
Let the chicken simmer on the grill for another seven to eight minutes while the mozzarella cheese melts and the chicken achieves serving temperature.
Serving the Chicken
Use a large spoon to place one chicken breast and some of the tomato sauce on each guest’s plate.
Chicken Parmesan is often served with fresh or grilled vegetables and pasta.