ORLANDO, Fla. — In this week’s Chef’s Kitchen, we’re celebrating Thanksgiving Italian-style with local icon Isabella Morgia di Vicari. Chef Isabella and her husband Jeff own The Meatball Stoppe, as featured on Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.
Chef Isabella is perhaps best known for her meatballs, but the one dish that warms her heart the most is a recipe coming from Mamma.
We’re not supposed to tell Mamma, but her daughter is revealing her secret ingredient (ahem — half and half). This Chicken Eggplant Parm recipe is jam-packed with love, tradition, joy, and famiglia.
- Canola Oil
- 4 skinless, boneless, chicken breasts (about 1 1/2 pounds)
- 1 lb. Eggplant stripped
- Kosher salt and black pepper
- 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 to 1½ cup of half and half
- 2 cups dried plain bread crumbs
- 1½ cups freshly grated Romano cheese, plus extra for sprinkling
- 1 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves
- 2 cups baby spinach
- 1½ cup shredded mozzarella
- Parmesan cheese
- Basil (for seasoning)
- Marinara sauce
- Beat the eggs in a bowl, and add half and half.
- Season with salt and pepper.
- Fillet and pound chicken to tenderize, and add it to the beaten egg mixture.
- This step can be done hours ahead of time.
- Get the dry ingredients together for the chicken and eggplant so you have an assembly line.
- Put the breadcrumbs in a wide, shallow dish, and season with Romano cheese and chopped parsley.
- Mix with a fork to distribute evenly.
- Remove chicken from the egg mixture, dip it into the breadcrumbs, and place it then on a plate.
- Repeat step 7 with the eggplant, and set aside.
- Heat canola oil over medium-high flame in a large saute pan.
- Dip chicken cutlets in the egg wash, then in the seasoned breadcrumbs, coating both sides completely.
- Set aside.
- Repeat steps 10 and 11 with the eggplant.
- When the oil is nice and hot, add the cutlets, and fry for 4 minutes on each side until golden and crusty, turning once.
- Repeat step 13 with the eggplant.
- Ladle marinara sauce on the bottom of a baking dish.
- Add the chicken, and top with marinara, then shredded mozzarella.
- Add layer of fresh spinach
- Set the fried eggplant on the fresh spinach, then add marinara sauce, and top with shredded mozzarella.
- Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and basil.
- Bake for 15 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbly.
- Serve hot with your favorite pasta.