In my ongoing quest to find tasty, kid-friendly food appropriate for the whole family, this week I chose a fun twist on traditional chicken Parmesan that would make a perfect appetizer for holiday parties. To save time, buy prepared chicken Parmesan from your favorite Italian restaurant or market and cut rounds out with a cookie cutter. I found the recipe in "Bite By Bite: 100 Stylish Little Plates You Can Make For Any Party," by Peter Callahan with Raquel Pelzel (Clarkson Potter; $35).

Chicken Paremsan Lollipops
(makes two dozen)

Ingredients
For the marinade
-1/2 cup buttermilk
-1/2 cup dark beer
-1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
-1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
-6 3-ounce thin-cut chicken cutlets

For frying
-2 cups peanut oil or safflower oil
-5 large eggs
-1 cup all-purpose flour
-1 teaspoon coarse salt
-1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
-3 cups panko breadcrumbs
-11/2 cups freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

For serving
-1/4 cup store-bought marinara sauce
-1 4-ounce ball fresh salted mozzarella, sliced into
-12 rounds, each round divided into 2 circles using a
-11/4-inch round cookie cutter
-24 lollipop sticks (or 4-inch-long wood skewers)
-24 flat-leaf parsley leaves

Directions

For the marinade:
Whisk the buttermilk, beer, salt, and pepper together in a large bowl. Add the chicken to the marinade, turn to coat, cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.

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For frying:
In a large, deep skillet, heat the oil to 350F. over medium heat.

While the oil is heating, whisk the eggs together in a medium bowl. Whisk the flour, salt, and pepper together in another medium or large bowl, and mix the panko and Parmesan together in a medium bowl.

Remove the cutlets from the marinade, letting the excess drip off. Dredge 1 chicken cutlet through the seasoned flour, making sure both sides are evenly coated and tapping off the excess. Dip the floured cutlet in the egg mixture, letting any excess drip back into the bowl, and then press both sides into the panko/Parmesan mixture.

Place the breaded chicken cutlet on a baking sheet and repeat with the remaining cutlets. Place the chicken cutlets in the skillet (if the oil has become too hot, reduce the heat to medium-low and wait for the temperature to come down before frying), and fry them on both sides until they are golden brown and cooked through, about 4 minutes total (you may need to fry the chicken in batches). Use tongs to transfer the chicken to a paper-towel-lined plate to drain and cool completely.

Set the cooled fried chicken on a cutting board. Use a 1/4-inch round cookie cutter to stamp 24 rounds from the chicken cutlets, and place them on a parchment-paper-lined baking sheet.

When you're ready to serve:
Preheat the oven to 350F.

Spread 1/2 teaspoon of the marinara sauce on one side of each chicken round and cover the sauce with a piece of cheese. Place the chicken in the oven and bake until the cheese begins to melt, 2 to 3 minutes.

Remove from the oven, and use tongs to hold each round while you insert a lollipop stick or a skewer into the bottom edge of the chicken and halfway through the middle. Finish with a parsley leaf. Place on a platter, or use a customized Styrofoam tray (see page 181, if you have the  "Bite By Bite" cookbook), or fill a deep rectangular tray with dried heirloom Italian beans to hold the skewers upright, and serve.