Tasty Words: NYC trip inspires homemade sandwich

Photo courtesy of Lauren Kudlawiec / This sandwich features breaded chicken cutlets with sliced prosciutto, tomatoes and mozzarella, drizzled with basil pesto on an Italian roll.

New York City is one if our country’s most rich sources of culinary inspiration. This metropolitan area is full of kitchen geniuses who pave the way for national food trends.

I’ve had the pleasure to visit NYC on multiple occasions, including my appearances on “Rachael Ray.” A few years ago, my husband and I traveled to visit our friends, Derek and Danielle Bailey. Not only did we enjoy life in their chic apartment, but we took an amazing Manhattan culinary tour. From fresh-made bagel shops and Jewish delis, to high-end food markets and mini cupcakes sold out of a window, the bites we had were second to none.

One of our favorite stops was at an Italian sandwich shop called Parisi Bakery, home of “The Dennis” sandwich.

Even though the menu board was full of mouth-watering options, Derek demanded we order that sandwich, and so we did.

It was probably the best sandwich I’ve ever eaten in my life. Hand-breaded chicken cutlets, surrounded by fresh sliced prosciutto, tomatoes and mozzarella, drizzled with basil pesto, all packed inside a fresh Italian roll. I savored every single bite I could manage and took the rest home for later… in my purse.

Yes, this sandwich was worthy of risking the ruin of my Vera Bradley bag.

A few weeks after returning home from our trip, I decided to attempt my own recreation. While it isn’t quite as good as the homemade deli sandwich we enjoyed in NYC, it’s pretty darn close. I encourage you to pick up some quality ingredients to make your own Dennis sandwich ASAP.

The Dennis Sandwich

Total Time: 45 minutes

Servings: 6

1 pound thin-cut chicken breasts

Salt and black pepper to season

2 eggs

1 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1 teaspoon dried Italian herbs

3 to 6 tablespoons olive oil

One unsliced 10-ounce Italian loaf

1/2 cup basil pesto

1/4 pound sliced prosciutto

6 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced

2 tomatoes, sliced

On a large plastic cutting board, cut each piece of chicken into 2 to 3 pieces to create a “cutlet” size. Season each side with salt and black pepper.

Place two shallow bowls side by side next to the chicken. Crack the eggs into one bowl, season with salt and black pepper and whisk thoroughly.

In the other bowl, mix together the bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese and Italian herbs. Dip each cutlet into the egg mixture and then cover completely with the bread crumbs.

Once all cutlets are coated, heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add 2 to 3 tablespoons of oil in the pan, enough to cover the bottom of the pan. Once the oil is hot, carefully add the cutlets to the pan. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes per side. Cutlets should be white throughout.

If you cannot fit them all into the pan in one batch, add more oil to the pan and repeat with remaining cutlets. Lay cooked cutlets on a plate covered with paper towels to soak up grease.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Slice the loaf of bread in half horizontally to make a top and bottom “bun” for the sandwich. Spread the basil pesto on the bottom of bread. Layer prosciutto and cooked chicken cutlets to cover the pesto. Top with sliced mozzarella. Place bottom portion of the sandwich on a rimmed baking sheet and place the remaining top of the loaf beside the bottom portion so it will toast in the oven as well. Bake for 5 to 10 minutes, or until cheese is melted.

Remove from oven, top with sliced tomatoes and place the toasted top bun on the tomatoes. Slice into 6 pieces and serve sandwiches hot!

Lauren Kudlawiec lives with her family in Ebensburg.