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Chicken Sorrentino has luscious layers of breaded chicken, eggplant, prosciutto, and cheese in a zesty tomato sauce infused with marsala wine.
What is Chicken Sorrentino?
It’s a delicious dish you’ll find on the menu at most Italian-American restaurants. Breaded chicken cutlets and slices of eggplant are layered with various cheeses and sliced prosciutto. It’s baked in a zesty tomato sauce seasoned with garlic and red pepper flakes, and marsala wine also adds distinctive undertones that meld nicely with these other flavors in this dish.
There doesn’t appear to be a definitive origin for this dish, but Chicken Sorrentino is believed to have been created by Italian-American chefs paying homage to their homeland of Sorrento, Italy – where the cuisine is very much inspired by ingredients often found in southern Italy.
Chicken Sorrentino is a truly wonderful combination of flavors – from the tender chicken, earthy eggplant, salty prosciutto, three creamy cheeses, and the marsala-infused tomato sauce. It’s a filling dish served all on its own, or you can serve it over pasta.
Why you’ll love Chicken Sorrentino
- The luscious flavors in every bite are so good, you’ll be tempted to lick the plate clean!
- Although some prep is involved, this recipe rivals any meal you’d order at your favorite Italian restaurant.
- This recipe serves six – so it’s perfect for a dinner party or Sunday supper with family.
Key Ingredients & Substitutions
- Eggplant – Choose the large, purple Italian eggplant for this recipe. (Other varieties such as Japanese eggplant are not appropriate for this dish.)
- Chicken – Buy three medium-sized boneless chicken breasts. You’ll butterfly them (follow this method) to make six cutlets.
- All-Purpose Flour
- Oil/Fat – Vegetable oil, extra virgin olive oil, and butter are used in this dish
- Yellow Onion
- Fresh Garlic
- Marsala Wine – Don’t buy the shelf-stable marsala wine from the supermarket (it’s loaded with sodium and the flavor just isn’t there). Buy a dry marsala wine from the liquor store.
- Tomatoes – Buy canned, whole, peeled San Marzano tomatoes for the sauce
- Tomato Paste
- Chicken Stock
- Sliced Prosciutto
- Seasonings – Kosher salt, white and black pepper, and red pepper flakes
- Cheese – Fontina, Romano and Provolone cheeses are all used in this recipe
Special Tools Needed
- Large braiser or large oven-proof skillet
- Cutting board and sharp knife
- Two Pie Plates – Used to set up breading station
- Sheet tray lined with paper towels
- Long handled tongs
- Wooden spoon
Tips & Tricks
- Slice and salt the eggplant, then allow it to sit for a while before coating with the seasoned flour mixture. The salting process removes any bitterness from the eggplant.
- If you aren’t comfortable butterflying the chicken breasts, you can pound them to a quarter-inch thickness using a meat mallet like this. (We suggest putting the chicken between two pieces of plastic wrap as you pound them flat.)
- When frying the eggplant, combine vegetable oil and olive oil together. This will help prevent scorching since olive oil alone has a low smoke point. Also note that you want to fry the eggplant at a high heat so the eggplant doesn’t absorb oil. (The higher heat forms an immediate sear on the eggplant, preventing too much oil absorption.)
How do I make Chicken Sorrentino?
- Slice eggplant and salt both sides. Set aside on paper towels
- Trim and butterfly each chicken breast half. Then cut each butterflied half into half again so you have six portions.
- Set up the two pie plates for breading: The first with flour, table salt and white pepper; the other with beaten eggs and water.
- Wipe moisture and salt from the eggplant slices. Then, dip in egg and then flour. Set aside on a plate.
- Repeat the breading process for the pounded chicken.
- Fry the eggplant slices. Set aside on pan lined with paper towels.
- Sear the chicken. Set aside on pan lined with the paper towels.
- Prepare the sauce. Set aside 1½ cups of the sauce.
- Assemble the dish for baking. Lay seared chicken over the remaining sauce in the skillet. Top each piece with Fontina cheese, then fried eggplant, Romano cheese, and Prosciutto slices.
- Spoon the reserved sauce over the stacks and finally top with sliced provolone cheese.
- Bake and serve immediately.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Can I make Chicken Sorrentino ahead of time? Yes, you could completely assemble then bake when ready. Just bring the pan back to room temperature at least 30 minutes before baking.
- How do I store leftovers? Store any leftovers refrigerated in a covered container for up to two days.
- How do I reheat leftovers? Microwave individual portions, or place back into a skillet and reheat in the oven.
- Can I freeze? You can freeze the leftovers, but freshly baked is best.
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1 pound Italian eggplant
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts (3 breast halves, 8-ounces each)
3 whole eggs with a tablespoon of water
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon table salt
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1/4 cup vegetable oil, divided
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
2 cups yellow onion, diced large
1 tablespoon fresh garlic, minced fine
1/4 cup Marsala wine
1 cup chicken stock, homemade if possible
1 28-ounce can whole peeled San Marzano tomatoes placed into a bowl and squeezed by hand
4 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Pinch red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons butter
8 ounces Fontina cheese, sliced into 18 slices
1/2 cup Romano cheese, grated
4 ounces sliced Prosciutto
6 ounces sliced deli Provolone cheese
- Trim ends off of the eggplant and slice into quarter-inch-thick long slices, about six slices if slicing from one eggplant. Lay slices over paper towels and sprinkle each side with the teaspoon of kosher salt and set aside.
- Trim and butterfly the three breast halves then cut each in half to yield six portions. Each portion should be about a quarter inch thick. (Or pound out to one quarter inch thick with a meat mallet if not butterflying). Set aside.
- After 15 minutes of sitting with salt, wipe off both sides of the eggplant slices.
- Beat eggs with a tablespoon of water in a pie plate.
- Mix flour, table salt and white pepper in a second pie plate.
- Dip eggplant slices in egg and then flour and set aside on a plate or platter.
- Follow the same steps for the chicken portions.
- Cover a sheet pan with paper towels.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Heat a large oven proof skillet or braiser over medium high heat and add half of the vegetable oil and two tablespoons of the olive oil. Once hot, add half of the eggplant and cook on both sides, removing to paper towels before they get too dark but are cooked through. This should take 2-3 minutes per side. Repeat with the rest of the vegetable oil and two more tablespoons of olive oil and cook the remaining eggplant.
- Remove the skillet from heat and wad up a bunch of paper towels and with tongs, wipe out the inside of the pan. Keep hands away from the hot fat and skillet.
- Return skillet to the burner and set heat to medium. Add two tablespoons of olive oil and once hot, sear half of the chicken for 1 ½ minutes per side. Remove to pan with the paper towels. Repeat with remaining olive oil and remaining chicken. The chicken will not be cooked through but will cook further in the oven.
- Immediately add the onions to the skillet and cook two minutes. Add garlic and cook one minute.
- Add Marsala wine and cook to evaporate the wine, about 1-2 minutes.
- Add stock and cook to reduce by half, about ten minutes.
- Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, salt, pepper and pepper flakes and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Remove from heat and stir in the butter.
- Remove 1 ½ cups of the sauce and set aside.
- Start building the portions. Place the six seared chicken portions over the top of the sauce left in the pan.
- Cover each with the sliced Fontina.
- Cut the fried eggplant pieces to fit the size of the chicken, overlapping as needed.
- Top each with Romano cheese, then divide the prosciutto slices evenly over the Romano.
- Top with the reserved sauce (1/4 cup per portion), then finish with the Provolone cheese, (one-ounce per portion).
- Bake uncovered for 15 minutes then place under the broiler for a minute or two to brown the tops.
- Serve immediately.
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