Originating in Emilia Romagna, particularly in the city of Parma, this dish was originally made with veal and grana cheese, such as Grana Padano or Parmigiano Reggiano were used. The breadcrumbs, tomato and mozzarella were all added later and chicken often used as a more economical substitute. This has got to be one of the most popular Italian American dishes. One can find it across America in every Italian American restaurant and it has now permeated the fast food chains due to its popularity and reasonable costs. If done well with the best of products it is a great dish.
- 6 (6 to 8-ounce) boneless skinless chicken breasts
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 12 ounces fresh ricotta, drained
- 3/4 cup grated Grana Padano
- 8 large basil leaves, shredded
- Freshly ground black pepper
- All-purpose flour, for dredging
- 2 cups dry breadcrumbs
- 2 large eggs
- Vegetable oil, for frying
- 4 cups marinara
- 8 ounces low-moisture mozzarella, thinly sliced
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. With a paring knife, make a pocket at the top (the short side) of each chicken breast. Season chicken with the salt. In a bowl, stir together the ricotta, 1/4 cup of the grated cheese and black pepper to taste.
2. Put filling in a pastry bag with a wide tip. (If you don’t have a pastry bag, you can pipe the filling out of a regular resealable plastic bag with a corner cut off). Pipe filling into the pockets in the chicken breasts. Spread flour and breadcrumbs on 2 rimmed plates. Beat eggs in a wide shallow bowl. Dredge chicken in flour, tapping off the excess. Dip chicken in egg, letting the excess drip back into the bowl. Coat chicken on all sides in the breadcrumbs.
3. Heat 1/2-inch vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the chicken, in batches if necessary. Cook until browned and crispy, about 4 minutes per side. Drain on paper towels.
4. In a baking dish large enough to fit the chicken in one layer, spread 1 1/2 cups of the marinara. Lay the chicken breasts on the sauce. Top with remaining marinara. Layer the sliced mozzarella on the chicken and sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup grated cheese. Bake until chicken is cooked through and topping is browned and bubbly, about 20 to 25 minutes.