Chicken Parmesan Sandwich
Every now and then, a recipe shakes up our test kitchen. When we put this sandwich out for tasting, one of our expert eaters was so whelmed, they immediately walked over and shook the chef’s hand.
What makes it so good? First of all, the chicken is filled with mozzarella before you fry it — then you finish it with more cheese and a spoonful or two of Gelson’s marinara. Overkill? No way! And second, the sandwich is still light and juicy. That could be due to the condiments, which include mayo and a generous pile of pepperoncini. Man, we love that little hit of vinegar!
This is a super crispy, super satisfying sandwich worthy of a big family dinner or any game day where you really want to knock it out of the park for your pals.
Chicken Parmesan Sandwich
Preheat the oven to 350°.
To make the Italian seasoning: In a small bowl, stir together the onion powder, garlic powder, lemon pepper, oregano, thyme, and salt. Set aside.
To prepare the chicken: Using a sharp knife, slice down the side of the chicken breasts but do not cut all the way through (like you would slice a hot dog bun).
Unfold the chicken breasts and place them between two pieces of plastic wrap. Using the flat side of a meat mallet or a small pot, pound the chicken breasts to about ¼” thickness.
Season both sides of the chicken with the Italian seasoning. Sprinkle ½ the grated mozzarella cheese onto one side of each chicken breast. Fold the breasts over to cover the cheese.
Pour the flour into one shallow dish, the beaten eggs into a second, and the panko into a third. Using your fingers, gently crush the panko into a finer crumb. Stir the Parmesan into the panko.
Dredge each prepared chicken breast first in the flour, shaking off any excess, then in the eggs, then the panko. Transfer the breaded chicken to a sheet pan lined with a wire rack.
To toast the sandwich rolls: In a medium cast-iron skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium heat until shimmering. Slice the rolls in half, and, working with 1 roll at a time, place it cut-side down in the skillet and toast until golden brown, 2 minutes. Repeat with the remaining olive oil and sandwich rolls.
Spread 2 tablespoons of mayonnaise onto the toasted sides of each roll and top with the pepperoncinis. Set the top halves aside and place the bottom halves on a baking sheet.
To fry the chicken breasts: Fit the same cast-iron skillet with a candy thermometer, add the grapeseed oil, and heat to 350º over medium heat. Gently place the chicken breasts into the oil and fry until golden brown, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer the breasts to the sandwich roll bottoms.
Layer each breast with 2 tablespoons of the marinara and sprinkle on the remaining mozzarella cheese. Bake for 20 minutes or until the mozzarella is melted and the chicken registers 165° on an instant-read thermometer.
To serve, garnish the chicken with the fresh basil, close up the rolls, and slice the sandwiches in half. Serve immediately.