What to buy: We started with 12-ounce chicken breasts and cut them in half to make 6 portions. Go ahead and use 6-ounce chicken breasts if you find them at your local market, though they are harder to come by these days.
Panko is coarse Japanese-style breadcrumbs. It’s available in the international section of most supermarkets.
Game plan: For a slacker solution, you could use good-quality store-bought tomato sauce.
1/2 cup thinly sliced fresh basil leaves (about 20 medium leaves)
8 ounces fresh mozzarella, cut into 12 thin slices
Heat the broiler to high and arrange a rack in the top third of the oven. Cut each chicken breast in half horizontally. Place 1 piece between 2 sheets of plastic wrap or in a resealable plastic bag and pound to an even thickness (about 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick) with a meat pounder or the bottom of a pan. Repeat with the remaining pieces of chicken. Season the chicken generously on both sides with salt and pepper; set aside.
Place the flour in a wide, shallow dish, season well with salt and pepper, and mix; set aside. Combine the milk and eggs in another shallow dish and mix until the eggs are broken up; set aside. Mix the panko and Parmesan together in a third shallow dish.
To bread the chicken, dredge a breast in the flour mixture and shake off the excess. Next, coat it in the egg mixture and let the excess drip off. Finally, press it into the panko mixture until it’s well coated. Set the breaded chicken on a large plate or baking sheet and repeat with the remaining breasts.
Line a clean baking sheet with paper towels and set aside. Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat until shimmering but not smoking, or 350°F on a deep-fry thermometer. Add the chicken in batches (don’t overcrowd the pan) and fry until golden brown, about 2 minutes per side. Remove to the paper-towel-lined baking sheet and repeat with the remaining chicken.
While frying the last batch of chicken, bring the tomato sauce to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Once warmed through, stir in 1/4 cup of the basil and reserve the rest for garnish. Remove the paper towels and place the chicken directly on the baking sheet. Divide the mozzarella slices evenly among the breasts and place under the broiler until the cheese is golden and bubbly. (Rotate the baking sheet as needed for even browning.)
To serve, ladle 1/2 cup of the tomato sauce onto each plate, top with chicken, and sprinkle with the remaining basil.
Beverage pairing:Kali Hart Monterey County Chardonnay, California. A good American Chardonnay for an Italian American dish. This white wine has a nice implicit fruity sweetness and a juicy acidity to make it a refreshing match for the chicken, tomatoes, and cheese.