little cubes

Finger-Lickin' Pan-Fried Chicken

The key ingredient for the best chicken parmesan that you've ever had

I’ve tried a number of different ways of breading and pan-frying chicken. I’ve found each of them to be disappointing in their own way. This method (from the famed Salt Fat Acid Heat book) uses flour, egg, parmesan, and panko breadcrumbs, but uniquely fries the chicken specifically in clarified butter, which lends a well-rounded richness that you just can’t get from olive oil.

My preferred way to serve this chicken is with pasta and tomato sauce to create a chicken parmesan dish, but the chicken remains the star of the show.

Boneless, skinless chicken breasts525%
Panko bread crumbs1 cup
Parmesan cheese, finely grated0.25 cups20%
Flour, seasoned with a large pinch of salt and a pinch of cayenne0.666 cups80%
Large Eggs2 eggs
Unsalted Butter1.333 cups300%



Clarify the butter. Melt the butter gently over sustained low heat. The whey solids will rise to the top of the clear, yellow fat, and the milk proteins will fall to the bottom. Skim the solids off the top with a tine strainer without agitating the proteins at the bottom. Carefully strain the remaining butter through cheesecloth or a tea strainer. Or if you don't have either of those, you can carefully pour the fat out of the pan, stopping before any of the clearly visible solids are poured out.


Trim the chicken. Remove the tenders from the breast. Use a sharp knife to remove the bit of silver skin, or connective tissue, at the top of the underside of each breast.


Thin out the chicken. Place one chicken breast with the underside facing up on the cutting board. Lightly rub one side of some plastic (plastic wrap or a plastic bag) with olive oil and place it, oil side down, on top of the breast.

Pound the underside of the breast with a kitchen mallet (or, lacking that, use am empty glass jar) until it's evenly about ½-inch thick. Repeat with the remaining breasts.


Set up the breading station. Season the breasts and tenders lightly with salt, and then set up three large, shallow bowls or containers, one each with the seasoned flour, the beaten eggs, and the bread crumbs. Mix the parmesan into the breadcrumbs.


Bread the chicken. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and then begin the breading process.

  • Coat all the breasts and tenders first in flour, then shake off the excess.
  • Then dip and coat them all in egg, and shake off the excess.
  • Finally, coat the pieces in bread crumbs and set them on a parchment-lined baking sheet


Fry the chicken. Set a 10- or 12-inch frying pan over medium-high heat and add enough clarified butter to come 1/4 inch up the sides of the pan. When the fat shimmers, add a few breadcrumbs to test the temperature of the fat.

As soon as they sizzle readily, place as many chicken breasts as you can fit into the pan in a single layer. There should be space between each breast and the fat should come at least halfway up the side of the chick n to ensure that the breading cooks evenly.

Cook the breasts over medium-high heat until golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes, then rotate and flip. Cook until the second side is evenly brown, remove from the pan, and drain on a baking sheet lined with paper towels. Add more clarified butter to the pan as necessary and cook the remaining breasts and tenders the same way.


Sprinkle lightly with salt and serve immediately.