Originally aired May 16, 2013
- 1 medium-size firm eggplant, top trimmed and skin from 2 opposite sides removed, sliced lengthwise into 4 steaks about 1/2-inch thick
- For the Tomato Basil Sauce:
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 2 cans San Marzano tomatoes
- 2 cups passata .
- A few leaves torn basil
- Sea salt, to taste
- 1 cup fine breadcrumbs
- 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
- 1 cup grated Parm cheese
- Zest of 1 lemon
- 1/4 cup flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons fresh thyme, finely chopped
- Flour, for dredging
- 3 eggs, beaten
- 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, halved across forming 4 large cutlets then pounded very thin
- 8 thin slices fior di latte or fresh mozzarella
- Olive oil, for shallow frying
- 1 pound spaghetti, for side dish, optional (crusty bread is fine for mopping as well)
Salt eggplant and drain on paper or kitchen towels 20 minutes. Pat dry.
Heat oil over medium-low heat and melt butter. Add onions and garlic, and cook covered until very soft, 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Raise heat a bit and add stock, tomatoes and passata. Bring to a bubble, break up tomatoes and add basil. Simmer uncovered for 30 minutes; season with sea salt to taste.
Combine breadcrumbs, cheese, lemon zest and herbs in a shallow dish. Pour flour into a second dish and beat eggs in a third.
Season pounded chicken cutlets with salt and pepper. Form a sandwich with 1 eggplant slice, 2 slices mozzarella and 1 chicken cutlet, covering the cheese completely. Coat the sandwiches with flour, egg then breadcrumbs.
Heat oil, about 1/4 inch, for shallow frying over medium to medium-high heat. Fry sandwiches 2 at a time until cooked through and deeply golden, 8-10 minutes, turning occasionally. Keep warm on rack set over baking sheet in warm oven at 275F. Repeat with remaining sandwiches.
Raise oven heat to 375F.
Spread some sauce in a casserole dish and shingle in sandwiches. Top with a little more sauce and sprinkle with remaining Parm; bake until golden.
Cook some spaghetti to al dente or char some bread to pass at the table. If you make the spaghetti, drain it and toss with a cup of reserved starchy water, some tomato sauce, butter and extra cheese. Pass remaining sauce to tables with stuffed eggplant and chicken parm.