I told you guys I was on a burger kick!
What happens when you take inspiration from Chicken Milanese and Salad Caprese and put it on a bun? You get a delicious sandwich, that's what. The idea for this sprang from seeing a recipe in Bon Appetit about a Chicken Parmigiana sandwich. It looked delicious, but I wrestled with the idea of putting tomato sauce on my sandwich. I envisioned trying to eat it and getting a ring of sauce in the palms of my hands. I pictured the sauce dripping onto my shirt. I pictured soggy breading. In my mind, this wasn't really going too well. I wanted a crisp-coated chicken burger, and that tangy tomato flavor, and of course the basil and cheese. Just no gloppy messiness, please.
I started with a lb of ground chicken, and an egg. It got very soupy very quickly, I had to use quite a bit of what I'd planned on using for the coating as a binder, to sop up the juice. But that's ok, because the end result is a delicious, juicy patty that doesn't taste bready, and who can argue with that? Depending on how moist your chicken is, you may need more or less bread crumbs, so add a TB or two a time until you can form a patty, while trying to handle the patty as little as possible.
For the cheese, I recommend any full-flavored low-moisture mozzarella. I've been taken with Organic Valley's mozzarella - it has a ton of flavor (makes those regular store-bought balls taste like cardboard) and is really delicious!
Italian Chicken Burgers
1 heaping cup panko bread crumbs
1 TB dried Italian seasoning
2 TB finely grated hard Italian cheese, like Parmesan
1/2 tsp coarse salt
1/2 tsp finely ground pepper
1 1/3 lb ground chicken
1 TB fresh, finely chopped basil or oregano (optional)
1/2 tsp coarse salt
1 TB olive oil
4 burger buns, preferably Kaiser or a soft Ciabatta
4 large slices tomato
4 oz low-moisture mozzarella cheese, sliced thinly
1/2 cup arugula
8-12 large basil leaves
First, make your seasoned breading. Mix the panko, dried seasoning, grated cheese, salt, and pepper. Set aside on a large plate.
In a medium sized mixing bowl, mix the chicken, egg, salt, and oregano, if using. Add about 1/4 cup of the bread crumb mixture, mixing gently, and careful not to overwork. Patties should hold together at this point; if you need a little more panko for it to hold it together, add about 1 TB at a time, using no more than an additional 2 TB. Shape it into 4 patties roughly 4" in diameter, and dredge it in the panko mixture, pressing the panko into the chicken patties. You may have some panko left over.
In a large, nonstick skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. When hot, add the patties. Cook until medium golden brown on the bottom, and chicken appears cooked halfway up, about 4-5 minutes. Flip, and continue cooking until the other side is the same color, another 3 minutes or so more. (Now's a good time to put the buns in the toaster.) When bottoms are light golden brown, with about 1 minute to go, add a thin layer of cheese on the top, and let cheese melt.
To serve, spread a little mayo on each side of your kaiser bun. Lay a few pieces of arugula, basil, and tomato slice on the bottom bun. Top with the patty and serve. Would go very nicely with a nice side salad with balsamic vinaigrette.