This Italian dish borrows an Asian trick for frying chicken: Use potato starch instead of flour and/or breadcrumbs for a crispy and gluten-free coating. Potato starch has been mentioned before as a potentially beneficial resistant starch. Unfortunately, heating potato starch can negate its RS function, which means you won’t benefit from eating it in this recipe. But it doesn’t change the fact that potato starch is gluten-free and, more importantly (if you love fried chicken), it’s a perfect crispy, crunchy coating.
Plus, with a few other easy changes, you can turn Chicken Parmesan into a completely Primal meal: spaghetti squash instead of noodles, flavorful, juicy chicken thighs instead of breasts, and only a light sprinkle of aged cheese.
To coat chicken (or even fish) with potato starch, simply dredge it through the potato starch to evenly coat the meat. Then fry in at least an inch or two of lard or oil. The smaller the pieces, the faster they’ll cook. Frying the pieces twice makes for an even crispier coating.
In the case of these herb-coated chicken strips for Chicken Parmesan, once in the frying pan is enough. Toss the juicy, crispy chicken with the spaghetti squash noodles and marinara, and it’s a bowl of “pasta” that even an Italian grandmother would love.
Time in the Kitchen: 1 hour
2 spaghetti squash, cut in half, stringy insides and seeds scooped out
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh basil, plus more for garnish (15 ml)
2 cups marinara sauce, warm (350 g)
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (optional) (45 g)
Lard, for frying
Recipe Note: Make sure to buy potato starch and not potato flour. They look similar but are very different. Potato flour will give you a soft, gummy coating, not a crispy coating.
Preheat oven to 375 °F/190 °C.
Brush each half of the spaghetti squash with olive oil on the flesh side. Season with salt and pepper. Bake spaghetti squash, face down on a rimmed baking sheet, for 45 minutes or until soft and easily pierced with a fork.
In a wide bowl, mix the potato starch, salt, oregano and basil.
Season the chicken lightly with salt. Dredge each strip of chicken through the potato starch, coating it evenly.
Heat 1 inch/2.5cm of lard in a heavy bottomed pot over medium-high heat. When the lard is very hot and shimmering, add the chicken in batches, cooking until both sides of the strips are golden brown and crispy.
Use a fork to loosen the spaghetti squash into “noodles.” Pour some marinara sauce over each squash, layer with chicken, and then another layer of sauce. Top with Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and fresh basil.
Want to add more cheese? Top the squash, marinara sauce and chicken with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and mozzarella. Return to the oven (or put under the broiler) until the cheese is melted.