My great-grandparents were both named after the patron saint of Alessano, Italy. Trifone and Trifona DiGiorgi. Their marriage was prearranged at birth. In 1914, Trifone traveled to Albany, New York by way of Ellis Island to start his new American life. Trifona stayed behind while waiting for Trifone to earn enough money to send for her. Two years later, Trifona traveled with her three children over the ocean to meet up with her husband and begin her new life in America.
As a new American family, my great-grandparents celebrated southern Italian cuisine with dishes like the one presented here as passed down through the family to me. I learned from my aunt Rose to keep Italian cooking simple so that the flavor of the fresh ingredients comes through. That approach to Italian cooking is found in this dish.
2 large chicken breasts
½ cup parmesan reggiano cheese, roughly grated
½ cup fresh buffalo mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced
½ cup of ricotta cheese
2 prosciutto slices, thin
4 fresh (medium- sized) basil leaves
1 large basil leaf, julienned
1 egg white
1 cup of Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
Fresh ground pepper
Prepare the ingredients by placing each one in a separate bowl. Clean and separate the two large chicken breasts. Using a chef’s knife, cut a horizontal slice into the side of the breast by cutting approximately 80% of the way through the breast (so that it may be stuffed). Place about two tablespoons of ricotta cheese inside the breast. Add half of the mozzarella to cover the inside of the chicken breast. Lay one slice of prosciutto and one or two basil leaves inside the breast. Add ½ of the parmesan cheese as the final ingredient in the breast. Fold the top of the chicken breast over the ingredients to close the chicken. Coat the entire chicken breast with egg white and then gently roll the breast through the bread crumbs until the chicken breast is evenly covered on both sides. Repeat steps for second breast. Place chicken breasts into a medium pan which has been seasoned with olive oil. Bake at 350 degrees uncovered for 45 minutes. Garnish with the strands of basil. Add sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste and serve.