Southerner tries iconic chicken parmo for first time – and it’s a 2-person job

A chicken parmo is a major part of the food culture of the North East of the UK. Said to be originated from Teesside, this iconic dish can be found all over the region.

Deep-fried and breaded chicken breast coated in a luscious bechamel sauce and melted with loads of cheese – that’s a recipe for a fantastic dinner… and probably a heart attack if you have too many.

While the dish is popular in the North-East, many in the South haven’t tried a chicken parmo.

Among them is Danielle Elton from our sister site 2Chill, as she rates her experience of trying out the dish for the first time.

Danielle surprised by the sheer size of the dish

“The North East is home to some local specialities that you’ll probably only find on the menu when in that neck of the woods – pease pudding, panaculty, stottie cakes.

And then there’s the parmo – a chicken dish that is said to originate from Teesside.

Being from Essex, I wasn’t familiar with the dish, until taking a trip up north to Sunderland.

So what is this parmo that northerners rate so highly?

Having eaten in many Italian restaurants, I’m familiar with chicken parmigiana – breaded chicken with a tomato-based sauce topped with cheese. It’s a dish I’d often order.

So with a name very similar, I assumed it would be the same. And in a way they are, except they taste very different, and that’s all thanks to the sauce.

Chicken fajita parmo- a variation by head chef Jason Leadbeater
Chicken fajita parmo- a variation by head chef Jason Leadbeater

A parmo is breaded chicken topped with bechamel sauce and loaded with cheese. Although a Middlesborough speciality, it is actually enjoyed all over the North East.

It’s on the menu at many restaurants, sold at all good takeaways, and there’s even a company that delivers them in the post.

And while a kebab might be the food of choice for many after going out for drinks, in Sunderland it’s the parmo.

So after enjoying a few cocktails with my sister at my favourite bar in the city, The Dead Rabbit, I decided to try a parmo, for the very first time.

What surprised me at first was the size of it. Usually accompanied by chips, it’s definitely a two-person job, so we shared. And it was only about £8. Bargain!

We opted for the classic, although there were many varieties – pepperoni, mushroom, Hawaian, BBQ and even bolognese. I think the only difference is the sauce, and some with extra toppings.

And after giving this northern speciality a try for myself, I have to say that it’s pretty good. I definitely understand why it’s so popular. It’s indulgent, oozy, cheesy – what’s not to love about that?

I’m almost disappointed that I can’t order them back home in Essex. I definitely would. Although that’s probably for the best. I bet they’re calorific!

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