‘Barefoot Contessa’: Ina Garten Has a Surprising Twist to Her Typical Parmesan Chicken Recipe

Barefoot Contessa star Ina Garten has made a living from her ability to create easy recipes for fans. Garten’s tricks, which include store-bought items and easy hacks, help the average cook put together a great meal.

Garten loves creating new recipes using old methods. And her twist on her favorite Parmesan chicken dish is one any seafood lover will want to try.

'Barefoot Contessa' star Ina Garten
‘Barefoot Contessa’ star Ina Garten | Lloyd Bishop/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank

Ina Garten’s Parmesan chicken is one of her favorite dishes

Garten didn’t set out to be a chef. She was working at the White House when she purchased a specialty foods store in East Hampton on a whim in 1978. From there, Garten began writing cookbooks and eventually gained the attention of Food Network. She’s been filming her show, Barefoot Contessa, since 2003.

Garten knows how to put together a fan-favorite chicken recipe. The Food Network chef has done plenty of takes on poultry, from her one-pan roast chicken and potatoes to her weeknight favorite Parmesan chicken. But the Parmesan chicken dish is arguably one of her best-known meals.

Garten incorporates fresh Parmesan into the breadcrumbs, then fries the pounded chicken in just the right amount of oil to give it that perfect crisp. The breadcrumbs should be seasoned (preferably Italian-style breadcrumbs), but Garten also adds some additional salt and pepper to the flour mixture to bring out even more flavor.

'Barefoot Contessa' star Ina Garten in 2019
‘Barefoot Contessa’ star Ina Garten in 2019 | Brad Barket/Getty Images for The New Yorker

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Garten once remastered her classic Parm chicken to create a flounder Milanese

Garten not only cooks unique dishes, but she also takes unique spins on more classic dishes. And during an episode of Barefoot Contessa, Garten showed fans how to take a classic Italian dish and recreate it using seafood.

Garten’s Parmesan chicken recipe was inspired by veal Milanese. And for that reason, she opted to recreate the Milanese recipe using flounder, a white fish relatively bland in flavor. The blandness isn’t bad, though, — it allows the flounder to serve as the base of a dish, and the rest of the ingredients bring out its flavor.

How to make Ina Garten’s flounder Milanese

Here’s what you’ll need:
6 flounder fillets
1 cup all-purpose flour
Salt and pepper
2 extra-large eggs, preferably room temperature
1 1/4 cups Italian-style breadcrumbs
Unsalted butter, for cooking
Olive oil, for frying
6 ounces arugula or mixed salad greens
Lemon Vinaigrette (recipe below)
2 tablespoons capers, drained
Freshly grated Italian Parmesan cheese, lemon juice, and fleur de sel, for serving

For vinaigrette:
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper

Place a sheet pan in the oven and preheat to 250. Pat the fish dry with a paper towel. Set aside. In a large dish, combine flour, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper. In a large but shallow bowl, whisk the eggs along with 1 tablespoon water. Add breadcrumbs to a third dish. Dip fish in flour, then in egg wash, then breadcrumbs.

In a large sauté pan, heat 1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Cook the fillets, two at a time, on medium-high heat for 2-3 minutes per side. As the fillets finish cooking, transfer them to the sheet pan in the oven.

For vinaigrette, combine lemon juice, olive oil, and salt and pepper. Toss vinaigrette with arugula. Heat capers in the pan for 30 seconds. Remove fillets from the oven, plate them, and top with mixed greens and capers. Top fish with Parmesan, a drizzle of lemon juice, and the fleur de sel; serve immediately.