Ingredients
  • Salt
  • 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
For the Stuffed Eggplant and Chicken Parm
  • 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
  • Pepper
  • 8 thin slices fior di latte or fresh mozzarella
  • Olive oil, for shallow frying
For passing at the table
  • 1 pound spaghetti, for side dish, (optional - crusty bread is fine for mopping as well)
Preparation

Salt eggplant and drain on paper or kitchen towels 20 minutes. Pat dry.

For the Tomato-Basil Sauce: 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.

Assemble the Parm: 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 275˚F. Repeat with remaining sandwiches.

Raise oven heat to 375˚F.

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.