If the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach — well, this hero will surely melt any man’s heart. The secret to mouth-watering tender chicken parm is simple — make sure to pound the chicken breast to tenderize the meat, and mix and match a few different types of Italian cheeses like asiago, mozzarella, fontina, and parmesan. We opt for fontina for its luxurious texture, and parmigiano reggiano for its assertive umami flavor.
To all you fathers out there — here’s a delicious token of thanks for all you’ve done through the years!
Ingredients: Marinara Sauce
— 1/4 cup quality extra virgin olive oil
— 1/4 cup yellow onion, finely minced
— 3 to 4 cloves garlic, minced
— 1 (28 oz) can of whole plum tomato with juice
— a few sprigs of basil
— 4 fillets organic chicken breast
— 1/2 cup flour for dredging
— 1 egg for egg wash
— 1 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
— 1 cup vegetable fry oil
— 1 1/2 cup marinara sauce
— a good handful of basil leaves
— 1/4 lb Fontina cheese
— 1/4 lb parmigiano reggiano
— 4 ciabatta rolls
Roughly blend the can of whole plum tomatoes in a blender or pass through a food mill; it’s alright if they remain a bit chunky. Place the extra virgin olive oil and diced onion in a sauce pan and place on medium heat. Bring to a sizzling simmer and let the onions cook lightly without browning. Add the garlic and sweat a minute longer, then add the tomatoes and season lightly (avoid seasoning too much at this point as the sauce will get reduced). Bring to a simmer and cook on gentle heat for 40—45 minutes, or until the sauce is thick enough to spread on the sandwich. Adjust the seasoning and submerge a few sprigs of basil to steep.
Cut fillets in half on the bias and gently pound each piece between two sheets of plastic wrap until they are 1/2 inch thick. Season both sides with salt and pepper and dredge in flour, then the egg wash, and finally the panko bread crumbs.
Place the vegetable fry oil in a pan and bring to 350°F, or until a bread crumb dropped into the oil will sink, bubble, and float almost immediately (if the crumb sinks and takes a few seconds to float up, the oil is not hot enough; conversely, if the crumb does not sink and fries vigorously, the oil is too hot). Shallow fry the chicken cutlets in the pan for a couple minutes on both sides until golden brown and crisp. Place on a rack and sprinkle with some more salt while still fresh out of the oil.
When ready to assemble the sandwich, preheat the oven to 400°F. Lay parchment paper on a half sheet tray and put down 8 dollops of marinara sauce, then the chicken cutlets, another layer of marinara, a few leaves of basil leaves to cover each cutlet, and a generous cheese layer of fontina and parmigiano reggiano. Place in the oven for 10—15 minutes or until the cheese is melted and chicken is thoroughly warmed. Meanwhile, toast or grill the ciabatta rolls and drizzle with olive oil. Sandwich the piping hot marinara-covered chicken and dig in!