1 large egg

1 cup panko breadcrumbs

1/3 cup grated Parmegiano-Reggiano

1 teaspoon dried oregano

Freshly ground black pepper

4 6-ounce boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Kosher salt

¼ cup all-purpose flour

Canola oil, for frying

1 cup Basic Tomato Sauce

8 ounces fresh mozzarella, drained, sliced, and at room temperature

 

Whisk together the egg and 2 tablespoons of water in a large, shallow dish. Mix together the panko, Parmegiano, oregano, and a generous pinch of pepper in another large, shallow dish. Gently pound out the chicken breasts to an even thickness with a meat pounder and season generously with salt and pepper. Dip each chicken breast into the flour to coat and shake off any excess, then into the egg wash, and then into the panko mixture to coat, patting so that it adheres. Arrange the chicken breasts in a single layer on a plate and let rest for about 15 minutes. 

 

Add enough oil to a very large, heavy frying pan to come to a depth of ¼ inch. Heat over medium heat until a pinch of the breadcrumb mixture sizzles immediately when added. Add the chicken breasts and fry without disturbing for 5 to 6 minutes, or until golden brown. Using tongs, turn the chicken breasts and fry another 4 to 5 minutes, or until just cooked through and golden brown. The chicken breasts will be firm to the touch and the juices will run clear when they are just cooked through. Meanwhile, preheat the broiler and bring the tomato sauce to a simmer in a small saucepan. Remove the chicken breasts to a paper towel-lined plate and drain for about a minute. Transfer to a rack on a baking tray, top each one with ¼ cup of the sauce, and divide the mozzarella among them, arranging the slices in a single layer. Broil for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the mozzarella melts. Arrange on individual plates and serve immediately.

 

Serves 4. Drain the mozzarella thoroughly on paper towels so that there's no excess moisture to turn the panko breading on the chicken soggy. The sweetness of fresh mozzarella is absolutely delicious with chicken breasts, but when I’m in the mood for a more pungent cheese, I like to substitute provolone. If you don’t have a pan large enough to cook all of the chicken breasts without overcrowding, fry them in 2 batches or use 2 pans. Veal and eggplant can also be prepared in this manner. Serve spaghetti with additional Basic Tomato Sauce on the side.