Living a short drive away from Parma, the people here are pretty serious about their parmesan cheese. We have quickly acclimated and I find myself using it almost every time I cook. The big secret to the most fabulous tasting parmesan is this: It must be freshly grated. Buy a wedge and grate just what you need. You wouldn't think it makes that much difference, but trust me, it does.
My American friend's Italian neighbor came to her house one day, saw pre-grated Parmesan in her fridge and immediately threw it in the trash. My American friend now grates it fresh.
I often make a very simple version of chicken parmesan. I'm almost embarrassed to share how I make it because it is soooo easy. I get lots of compliments every time I make and people go back for second and even third servings but you must use freshly grated parmesan. That is the trick.
Lots of people have asked for the recipe so here you go. . .
-take a chicken breast and slice it very thinly horizontally, then pound the very thin pieces. (It is kind of a pain to slice the chicken like this. Use a very sharp knife or have the butcher do it. Here, I buy it already sliced.)
-salt and pepper the chicken
-dip the chicken in something (beaten eggs, olive oil, whatever)
-then dredge the chicken pieces in a mixture of 2 parts freshly grated parmesan and 1 part bread crumbs. I add a bit of garlic salt to this mixture.
-I skip the frying step because it is such a pain and just put the chicken straight in the oven. Bake at 200 (that's around 400 F) for 10-12 minutes (yes, that is long enough. The chicken should be very, very thin)
-That's it. Super simple. Finito!
I like to serve it with pasta and pesto, salad and bread.
Real Parmesan only comes from Parma. If you want a lower priced alternative, try Grana. It is almost the same.