When we sit down at a restaurant and the waiter brings a plate of chicken Parmesan to the table next to us, we both get instant order envy. Chicken Parm is a dish that seems to always grab the attention of our eyes, nose and tastebuds. We make our version with an oven-roasted tomato sauce, crispy chicken cutlets and three kinds of cheese.
For the roasted tomato sauce: Put the tomatoes and garlic in a cast-iron skillet, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Broil until starting to char, 12 to 15 minutes depending on your broiler. Remove from the oven and keep the broiler on.
Meanwhile, pound each chicken breast between 2 sheets of plastic wrap until it is about 1/4 inch thick.
Put the roasted tomatoes and garlic in a food processor with the red pepper flakes, oregano, tomato paste, basil and sugar. Season well with salt and pepper. Puree until mostly smooth. If the sauce seems too thin, put it in a saucepan on the stove to reduce and thicken for 10 minutes while you make the chicken.
For the chicken: Pour 1 inch of canola oil into a large cast-iron skillet or heavy-bottomed pan with high sides. Heat to 375 degrees F.
Set up your breading station. Put the flour in a shallow bowl and season well with salt and pepper. Put the eggs in another shallow bowl. Put the panko and Parmesan in a third shallow bowl.
Dredge each chicken breast in the seasoned flour, dip in the beaten egg and then dredge in the breadcrumb-cheese mixture. Working with one piece at a time, fry the chicken breasts until golden brown, about 4 minutes per side.
Put both chicken breasts on a baking sheet fitted with a wire rack. Smear each chicken breast with 2 tablespoons of the ricotta. Top each with about 1/4 cup tomato sauce, reserving the rest for serving. Cover with the mozzarella cheese.
Broil until the cheese is starting to brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Add a few tablespoons of tomato sauce to each serving plate. Top with chicken Parmesan and garnish with fresh basil. Serve immediately.