If there was a food hall of fame honoring Italian-American staples, the popular dish "CHICKEN PARMIGIANA" would be among the first inductees.
Typically, "CHICKEN PARMIGIANA" contains the same basic ingredients with minor changes depending on the cook’s preference: Butterflied chicken breast, bread crumbs, Italian seasonings, Neapolitan tomato sauce, fresh basil leaves and mozzarella cheese.
The "parmesan cheese" —parmigiana— is named after the city of Parma in the northern Italian region of Emilia-Romagna, where it was first produced. Before the mass emigration of Italians to America, "parmigiana" was actually made in Italy with breaded, fried slices of eggplant in place of chicken —this dish was called melanzane alla Parmigiana although it was a staple of Campania and Sicily, both southern regions of the country.
It is still an unsolved mystery why this dish is called “parmigiana” even though it’s commonly made with mozzarella cheese and is a staple of Southern Italy! While the precise reason for attaching “parmigiana” to the meal's preparation might be difficult to nail down, one thing is sure: When and how chicken replaced eggplant as the centerpiece in the dish. When Italians arrived in America long time ago, they found the expensive proteins of their homeland to be far more affordable and accessible in the markets of the new world. The newly minted Italian-American home cooks not only devised unique dishes based on what was available, but also adhered existing recipes to the new world’s meat-centric menu —altering many classics into newfound creations (such as Italian sausage and meatballs), including chicken parmigiana.
Chicken parmigiana eventually spread from Italian neighborhoods to Italian restaurants and even non-Italian restaurants and published cookbooks of the 1950s.
Chicken parmigiana encompasses everything we love about Italian food in one bite —the tender chicken breast's juicy interior, the slightly browned crisp breading on the meat's exterior, the slightly sweet tomato sauce flavor, the silky texture of the mozzarella.
To create the ketogenic version of her "Chicken Parmigiana", Chef Janine uses most of the same basic ingredients except the bread crumbs (not ketogenic). Instead, she chooses finely ground pork rinds blended with parmesan cheese.