Adapted from Fine Cooking
This recipe comes from a Fine Cooking magazine, and I've been wanting to try it ever since I saw it. I made it tonight, and it is delicious! Panko bread crumbs make for a very crisp crust, and fresh Mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses, make all the difference in the world, particularly the fresh Mozzarella. You should be able to find it in almost any larger grocery store. Look in or near the Deli department. You should be able to find Panko crumbs with the other dry bread crumbs, probably in the baking aisle and if not there, check the ethnic foods section (they are a Japanese-style bread crumbs).
5 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded to an even thickness
1/2 cup flour
1 tbsp water
1 1/2 cups Panko bread crumbs
about 5 tbsp olive oil, more if needed
4 oz fresh Mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced, more if desired
1/4 cup fresh Parmesan cheese, grated on a small box grater
(I used doctored-up Ragu sauce, but only because I didn't have the tomatoes on hand. I will definitely try making this sauce the next time I make these.)
1 (15-oz) can crushed tomatoes, preferably Muir Glen fire-roasted crushed tomatoes
1 tbsp olive oil
chpd onion, optional
2 medium cloves garlic, finely chpd, optional
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup packed fresh basil, chopped (1/2 oz)
Mix the flour, salt and pepper together on a plate. In a shallow bowl, beat together the eggs and water. In another shallow bowl, pour in the Panko bread crumbs.
Between 2 sheets of waxed paper, pound the chicken breasts to an even thickness, about 1/2 inch. This will make them quite large, depending on the size of the breasts.
Dip the breasts in the flour mixture, coating both sides. Dip them in the egg mixture, coating them on both sides. Then dip them in the bread crumbs, coating them on both sides and pressing down the bread crumbs on both sides.
Brown the breaded chicken in a heated skillet in the oil, one at a time. Use about 1 tbsp of oil for each breast. Brown well on both sides. You can brown them until they are almost cooked through, and have a shorter baking time; or you can brown them just until browned and bake them longer. I did the latter, and ended up having to guess how long to bake the chicken, but they still came out very moist and delicious. Repeat the browning process with each chicken breast, adding about 1 tbsp of oil for each one.
Place the chicken on a rack inside a large roasting pan that is lined with foil. At this point, I grated some fresh Parmesan cheese on top of the chicken, thinking they would bake through more quickly than they did. Since the chicken took longer than I thought, the cheese ended up browning, but this may have contributed to the crispness of the breading - which ended up being very good. You could wait until the chicken is closer to being done, to add the Parmesan cheese.
Bake 425° for about 20 - 25 minutes, depending on the size of the chicken pieces. About 5 - 7 minutes before the end of cooking time, place the fresh Mozzarella cheese on each piece of chicken and continue baking until the cheese is melted. It does not need to brown.
Spoon some of the sauce over the chicken, just before serving and then top with some more freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
If you brown the chicken in the skillet until they are cooked about halfway through, the baking time may take as little as 5 -7 minutes, according to the recipe. If this is the case, top right away with the fresh cheeses before baking.
Serve with cooked thin spaghetti noodles and a nice, crusty bread and a crisp green salad and you will have a most, delicious meal!
For the Sauce
In a clean skillet, over medium heat, saute the onion and garlic in 1 tbsp olive oil, stirring often, until onion is tender and slightly browned about 3 - 4 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, stirring occasionally, until thickened, 4 - 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the fresh basil. Serve the sauce over the chicken.