serves: serves 4
This is a unique rendition (and spelling) of veal parmigiana that I had in Rigazzi’s, one of the oldest restaurants on The Hill in St. Louis. It exemplifies the frugality and the ingenuity of those early immigrants. Instead of expensive veal cutlets, they ground lesser, tougher cuts of veal, then shaped them and treated them like a veal cutlet; the result was delicious and tender! At Rigazzi’s, it was the special of the day when we visited.
3 cups Marinara sauce
1 pound ground veal
½ cup grated Grana Padano or Parmigiano-Reggiano
2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup dry bread crumbs
2 large eggs
vegetable oil, for frying
4 oblong Italian rolls, about 3 to 4 inches long, split open
8 large fresh basil leaves
8 ounces low-moisture mozzarella, thinly sliced
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Warm the marinara sauce in a small pot over low heat. Combine the veal, ¼ of the grated cheese, the parsley, and ¼ teaspoon of the salt in a small bowl. Mix with your hands, and shape into 4 oblong patties (that will fit on your rolls) about 1 inch thick. Spread the flour and bread crumbs on two shallow, rimmed plates, and beat the eggs with the remaining salt in a shallow bowl.
Pour ½ inch vegetable oil into a large skillet over medium heat. Dredge the patties in flour, shaking off the excess, then dip in the beaten egg, letting the excess drip back into the bowl. Press the patties into the bread crumbs to coat both sides. When the oil is hot, carefully slide the patties into the oil. Fry, turning once, until golden brown and just cooked through, about 8 to 10 minutes. (You will know the patties are cooked through when you press on one and no more juice comes out.) Drain the cooked patties on paper towels.
Lay the rolls open on large baking sheets while still hot. Place a patty on the bottom half of each roll, and spread each patty with about 1/3 cup marinara, keeping the remaining marinara warm for serving.
Sprinkle remaining ¼ cup grated cheese over the marinara on the patties, then top each with 2 basil leaves. Evenly distribute the sliced mozzarella over the leaves. Bake until bread is toasted and cheese is melted and browned on top, about 10 minutes. Serve with additional warm marinara for dipping.