The Secret To Carbone's Iconic Chicken Parm

When you think of New York dining, there are a few things that come to mind: a big, crusty bagel (everything, of course), fresh-out-of-the-oven pizza by the slice, and, more recently, Carbone. The Italian restaurant, which has seven locations worldwide, is best known for its original Greenwich Village restaurant. This hotspot is a favorite of celebrities and foodies alike. Perhaps best known for its sauces, which you can now buy jarred at your local supermarket, the restaurant also has a few more iconic recipes that have diners clamoring for a reservation. One such dish is its chicken parmesan, an Italian staple that Carbone has made entirely its own through a few key cooking tricks.


Mario Carbone, chef and co-owner of Carbone, recently shared some of his chicken parmesan cooking tips with Today. While preparing the Italian staple alongside Today Show host Carson Daly, Carbone slipped in a few key pointers for perfecting your at-home chicken parm. First, Carbone advises home cooks to prepare their own breadcrumbs, rather than opting for the store-bought kind. Additionally, Mario Carbone uses a 1-to-1 ratio of butter and a neutral oil that helps infuse your chicken parm with a rich flavor.

Making your own bread crumbs

Though chicken parmesan is a simple dish — a breaded and fried chicken cutlet served with a topping of cheese and tomato sauce (often with a side of pasta) — there are more than a few opportunities to add flavor throughout the cooking process. One of these opportunities comes with the dish's signature breading. Rather than adding in your basic store-bought breadcrumbs, Mario Carbone suggests making your own breadcrumbs by hand


But you shouldn't stop there. After all, an unseasoned breadcrumb is about the same whether it is store-bought or homemade, so Carbone also suggests seasoning your breadcrumbs. In particular, Carbone recommends onion powder, oregano, and garlic powder. You can also add some more basic ingredients, like salt or pepper, which will help round out the taste of your chicken. Of course, the world is your very own chicken cutlet, and you can season your breadcrumbs — store-bought or otherwise — however you'd like. Doing so might just take your cooking to the next level.

A better oil (just add butter)

Of course, Mario Carbone has more than one trick up his sleeve when it comes to zhuzhing up chicken parmesan. Adding butter to your cooking oil can help bring together the best aspects of these cooking fats. The vegetable oil base of your frying liquid dilutes the proteins in your butter, which are more likely to burn at higher temperatures; while butter adds, well, a distinctly buttery (and delicious) taste that brings another level of richness to whatever you're frying.  


But Mario Carbone doesn't stop with the 1-to-1 butter-to-oil ratio. He also adds several important aromatic ingredients to the mixture. In particular, Carbone suggests adding rosemary, thyme, and garlic, which can bring some pretty big flavors to that little chicken cutlet. These tricks all point to the real secret of Carbone's cooking, which is seasoning at every step. Rather than sticking to basic ingredients, Mario Carbone adds flavor wherever possible, whether in frying oil or breadcrumbs. And hey, we'll never say no to more flavor.