You may be wondering how or why I decided to develop this Paleo-friendly chicken parm recipe…
Well, after years of eating Paleo and being one of those folks who occasionally would use almond flour in place of wheat flour, my once walnut-only allergy developed further into an all-nut allergy. Well, that is, except for the “non-Paleo” nuts: peanuts and cashews. I react strongly with an oral allergy to all other nuts, but peanuts and cashews, though both often technically referred to as legumes, don't cause this reaction for me.
Recently, I heard that Trader Joe's started carrying a cashew meal – like other nut flours out there, a finely ground form that can be used in baking and breading. In general, I'm not a huge fan of the taste of cashews, but I figured that I'd give this stuff a whirl since it's the last remaining grain-free/nut-type-flour I can really try. So, I whipped up this Paleo-friendly chicken parm using the cashew meal, some arrowroot flour for added starch (since nut meals are much higher in fat and not very much starch), and a bunch of Italian spices to create a grain-free “Italian breadcrumb” mixture first.
I can't wait to serve this one up to my family – mangia!
- 1 pound boneless skinless chicken thighs (ideal for flavor) or breast if you prefer sea salt & black pepper
- 1 cup cashew meal or other raw nut meal or flour
- 2 tablespoons arrowroot flour
- 1 tablespoon Balanced Bites ITALIAN Spice Blend
- 1 egg beaten
- 1/4 cup duck fat, bacon fat, lard, coconut oil or other cooking fat
- 1/4 pound thinly sliced clean-ingredient pepperoni* or other spicy cured meat optional
- 4 ounces goat cheese gently crumbled into 1/2" pieces (optional)
- 1/2 cup pasta sauce
- a few sprigs of fresh basil for garnish optional
Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
Tear two large sheets of plastic wrap from a roll, then place one sheet on top of a large cutting board. Next, place one chicken thigh onto the plastic wrap, then cover the chicken with the other sheet of plastic wrap. Using a kitchen mallet, pound the chicken out until it's roughly 1/4" evenly in thickness. (Curtis Stone has a great tutorial video on how to do this here.) Repeat this process for all pieces of chicken. Season the chicken on both sides with a few pinches of sea salt and black pepper.
Place a large, heavy-bottomed, high-sided skillet or sauté pan (I used an enameled cast iron braiser pan but a heavy stainless steel pan will work as well) over medium-high heat. Melt 1/4 cup duck fat or coconut oil in the pan and allow it to become hot, about 5 minutes. While the pan heats, begin to bread the chicken.
Create a "breading" station for the chicken: In a large, shallow bowl or dish, combine the cashew meal, arrowroot flour, and ITALIAN blend until well combined. In a second large, shallow bowl or dish, whisk the eggs until well beaten. Dunk the chicken into the egg mixture to coat it completely, allowing excess egg to drip off. Next, place the chicken into the flour mixture to coat it completely, gently shaking off any excess. Repeat this process for all pieces of chicken.
Place the chicken into the hot pan and cook for 2 minutes on each side, then place the browned chicken onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Once all of the chicken has been browned, bake it for 15 minutes.
Remove the chicken from the oven and cover each piece with a single, thin layer of pepperoni, then small amount of tomato sauce, and then the goat cheese. Repeat this process for all pieces of chicken. Keep any remaining sauce aside for a final drizzle over the chicken before baking.
Preheat the oven to a high broil setting and place the chicken back into the oven on a top rack or close to the broiler for 5-10 minutes or until the goat cheese softens. If your oven doesn't have a broil setting, you can simply place the chicken back into a 350 degree F oven for 10 additional minutes.
Garnish with fresh basil.
*clean-ingredient: this means read labels or ask to see labels of items you're using and only purchase those without added sweeteners, unfamiliar additives, preservatives, or fillers.
Serve over pasta of choice and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil for added flavor and richness.