Mexicali Chicken Parmesan
Mexicali Chicken has avocado and crispy thin chicken cutlets atop spicy alfredo sauce pasta with tomatoes, chiles, and roasted poblano pepper. This is a Mexican-inspired chicken parmesan that is fun to make and a joy to serve. You control the heat, and this Mexican alfredo sauce recipe includes hot and mild variations.
Crispy thin chicken cutlets are one of my favorite things, and they are even better under a blanket of cheese and over creamy spaghetti. Over the years, this recipe has gone though various iterations – starting with canned condensed cream of mushroom soup, then bechamel sauce, and now this total kicked up awesome variation of my classic alfredo sauce.
Mexicali Chicken Parmesan was originally posted October 2013 then updated May 2022.
What is Mexicali Chicken?
Mexicali is a city in Baja Mexico, but this recipe has nothing to actually do with that. Mexicali chicken is any variety of recipes that kind of fuse Americanized “Mexican” ingredients, such as taco seasoning or salsa, with avocado. Because, throw avocado on anything and it’s immediately “Cali” or California. Same with pineapple and “Hawaiian” by the way, and I’ve been told actual Hawaiians don’t like that either.
My Mexicali chicken is a spin on Italian chicken parmesan with crispy thin chicken cutlets that are juicy and so tasty. These crispy cutlets are topped with avocado and pepperjack cheese and served over a spicy alfredo sauce with green chiles and insanely tasty roasted poblano pepper. The avocado and pepperjack cheese are the “cali”. The green chiles, poblano pepper, seasonings and spice are the “Mexi”. All-together, Mexicali chicken parmesan over pasta with this Mexican alfredo sauce is an incredible dinner.
About the ingredients
Okay, there are a ton of ingredients. But there actually aren’t that many once we break it down. Most are pantry staples anyway. So stick with me.
Ingredients for the chicken
- Chicken cutlets. Either get cutlets already sliced or you can slice chicken breasts into cutlets. Tenders will work too.
- Dredge! To coat the chicken, we use all-purpose flour, an egg, and the cracker coat: crushed Ritz crackers, panko breadcrumbs, and parmesan cheese.
- Seasoning for the chicken: salt and pepper.
- Oil for frying, and for this recipe that is extra virgin olive oil.
- Avocado and sliced pepperjack cheese finish our Mexican chicken parmesan.
- Chopped green onion for garnish.
Ingredients for the spicy alfredo sauce
- Poblano peppers. Poblanos are my favorite pepper of all time and if you haven’t tried them, this is the recipe to do it.
- A can of Rotel chopped tomatoes and green chiles. Use Mild or Original Rotel depending on your desired level of heat. If unsure, I recommend using Mild if serving kids or anyone super sensitive to spice (like my mother); otherwise, use Original Rotel.
Be sure to drain and reserve the juice. The juice gets added to both the egg wash for the chicken and the spicy alfredo sauce.
- Spaghetti. Self explanatory.
- Base of our Mexican alfredo sauce: unsalted butter and heavy cream.
- Shredded pepperjack cheese. Buy a standard sized block and shred half.
- Seasonings: kosher salt, fresh cracked pepper, dried oregano, chili powder, cumin.
How to make Mexican chicken parmesan
I’ve organized the recipe card sequentially and in sections to make prep as easy as possible. The simple breakdown is thusly:
- Roast the peppers. This can be done a day in advance.
- Coat and fry up the chicken. We get the coating on the chicken golden, but the chicken won’t be completely cooked at this point – we’ll finish in the oven.
- Make the spicy alfredo sauce. This recipe is based on my fettuccini alfredo sauce, but we are adding a bunch more love to give it its own personality. So freaking tasty.
- Cook the pasta. Just follow the directions on the box. Drain and add to the sauce.
- Cook the chicken. Since we only got the outer part of the chicken cooked on the stovetop, we pop the chicken in the oven to make sure it cooks through to an internal temperature of 165°F. This is done while the pasta is cooking since they take about the same amount of time. No biggie.
- Finish the chicken and eat. Top each piece of chicken with avocado and cheese, then stick under the broiler just to melt the cheese. This happens very quickly, so don’t go anywhere. Top with green onion (don’t skip this step!) and serve.
Yes but as with all cream-based sauces it is very difficult to reheat without the oil separating out and making a slicky mess. So, it is far preferable to make this Mexican alfredo sauce fresh.
Mexicali Chicken Parmesan
For the chicken
- 4 chicken cutlets ~1 lb
- ½ cup all-purpose flour for dredging
- 1 large whole egg
- ½ cup crushed Ritz crackers 10 crackers
- ½ cup plain Panko breadcrumbs
- ¼ cup freshly grated Parmigiana-Reggiano cheese
- 2 pinches kosher salt
- 2 pinches fresh cracked pepper
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 avocado pit and peel removed, sliced
- 4 slices pepperjack cheese
For the spaghetti
- 2 poblano peppers
- ½ lb spaghetti
- 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1 cup shredded pepperjack cheese
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- 1 pinch fresh cracked pepper
- 1 (10 oz) can Rotel Mild or Original chopped tomato and green chilies (*see Notes) drained reserving juice
- ¼ tsp dried oregano
- ¼ tsp chili powder
- ¼ tsp cumin
- ¼ cup chopped green onion for garnish
Roast the peppers
- Heat up the oven broiler on high.
- Put the peppers under the broiler, turning every couple minutes until charred and roasted (~15 minutes). Transfer to a ziploc bag to steam.
- Once peppers are cool enough to handle, remove skins and seeds, and chop into ~1/2 to 1-inch pieces and set aside.
Cook the chicken
- Put a large pot of water to come to a boil while cooking the chicken. Also heat the oven to 400°F.
- Set up a dredging station for the chicken cutlets: one dish with flour, one with egg wash (the egg beaten lightly with 2 tablespoons reserved Rotel juice), and one dish with the crackers, Panko crumbs, and parmesan cheese combined.
- Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Dredge in flour (shaking off excess), then egg wash, then cracker mixture.
- Heat the olive oil in a large cast iron skillet or nonstick skillet on medium-high heat. Add the chicken to the skillet and cook, flipping once, until golden. Remove the chicken to a rimmed baking sheet.
Make the pasta sauce
- Heat the butter and cream in a large skillet. Bring to a simmer and cook (~5 minutes), stirring often, until thickened.
- Add the shredded pepperjack cheese, drained Rotel tomatoes and green chiles, chopped roasted poblano pepper, salt, pepper, chili powder, cumin, and oregano. Also add 1-2 tablespoons reserved Rotel juice. Leave on the burner to stay warm, but keep heat at low or off. Stir occasionally.
Cook the pasta and finish the chicken
- Add the spaghetti to the pot of water to cook to al dente according to package directions.
- Put the chicken in the oven to finish cooking. The chicken is done when internal temperature reads 165°F with an instant-read thermometer. (This will take ~6-7 minutes, about the same time as the pasta does to cook.)
- Drain the pasta and put back in the pot. Add the spicy alfredo sauce and toss.
- To finish the chicken, top each cutlet with avocado slices, then a slice of pepper-jack cheese. Put under the oven broiler 1 minute or so until cheese melts.
- Serve chicken over pasta garnished with green onion.
Calorie count is purely an estimate calculated using an online application to serve as a guide and not to be taken as accurate nutritional information. Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.