by Benjamin Maides, Chef, Au Courant Regional Kitchen, Omaha, Nebraska
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for frying
- 5 cloves garlic, sliced
- 1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 (28-ounce) can Italian-style tomatoes, puréed
- 6 basil leaves
- 2 boneless skinless Smart Chicken breasts, split lengthwise
- Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
- Flour (about ½ cup or as needed), for breading
- Egg wash (one egg + ¼ cup half and half), for breading
- Panko breadcrumbs (about ¾ cup or as needed), for breading
- Canola oil, for frying
- 8 ounces fresh mozzarella, sliced
To a saucepan over low heat, add the olive oil and sweat the garlic, red pepper flakes, and salt for about 5 minutes. Add the puréed tomatoes and basil and simmer over medium heat for 45 minutes.
Meanwhile, set up a breading station with three shallow bowls: one with flour, one with egg wash, and one with panko breadcrumbs. Season each chicken breast half with salt and black pepper. Dredge each piece of chicken in the flour, then dip into the egg wash, then breadcrumbs. To a cast iron skillet over medium heat, add about an inch of canola oil and heat to 350°F. Fry each piece of chicken until light golden-brown. Remove to a baking tray, top chicken with tomato sauce and mozzarella slices, and broil in the oven until cheese is melted and chicken registers 165°F on a digital thermometer inserted into the thickest portion of the cut.