We've had some lovely late summer vegetables in our CSA boxes lately - sweet peppers (finally!), eggplants and squash (more on this later). We've also harvested the last of our tomatoes and what hasn't been frozen has been made into some delicious tomato sauce-based pasta dinners. So last night I decided to use some of our leftover pasta sauce and some deep fried goodness to make parmigiana sandwiches.
Our sandwiches consisted of eggplant parmigiana, chicken parmigiana, mozzarella, roasted peppers and homemade marinara.... plus some La Bomba sauce for a hot and delicious kick.
I actually ran out of panko halfway through breading the eggplant and had to finish breading the chicken with a mixture of panko and crushed (unsalted) saltines.
This combination of panko and crackers actually worked out great because the finished product had a nice balance of light and airy crispness (from the panko) and the more traditional denseness of Italian breadcrumbs (saltines, in this case).
The only thing that would have put these sandwiches over the top? If I'd had enough time to caramelize some onions and mushrooms... mmmm.
Chicken and Eggplant Parmigiana Sandwiches Yield: 8 Sandwiches
2 small eggplants, cut into 1/2-inch slices
4 sweet peppers
4 large chicken breasts, butterflied and separated into halves (to give 8 pieces), pounded thin
1 cup flour
1-1/2 teaspoonfuls salt
1/2 teaspoonful ground black pepper
2 eggs, beaten with a small amount of water
1-1/2 cups panko
1/2 sleeve unsalted soda crackers/saltines, crushed
8 ounce mozzarella ball, sliced
8 soft dinner rolls
- Lay eggplant slices in a single layer on a baking sheet and sprinkle liberally with salt (to draw the excess moisture and any bitterness out). Let stand at least an hour or until moisture begins beading on surface of eggplant. Rinse salt off, squeeze gently dry and set aside.
- While the eggplant is dehumidifying in its salt bath, roast the peppers. I did this by placing them directly onto by gas stovetop grates and rotating them as they charred. Once the skin is charred all over, remove from heat and wrap in a tea towel. The steam that accumulates inside the towel will loosen the pepper's skin, which you can peel off after it's cooled.
- Prepare your chicken breasts by cutting them into two halves (butterfly style) and pounding each piece into a thin cutlet (I used some cellophane and a beer bottle as my mallet:)
- In 3 shallow dishes, prepare your dredging mixtures: flour plus salt and pepper, beaten egg, panko and saltines.
- Dredge eggplant in flour, dip into egg and coat in breadcrumbs. Repeat with chicken.
- Heat some oil in a heavy pan over medium heat. Shallow-fry the eggplant and chicken until they are crispy and brown.
- Assemble your sandwiches with marinara, La Bomba (if you like it hot!), cutlets, mozzarella, peppers and more marinara. You can oven toast the whole sandwich to melt the cheese, or if you want to get it done quick, toast the chicken parmigiana with the mozza on top to melt it before assembling.