recipes for dinner

Don Tano Bongiorno’s Little Sicilian Twist on Chicken With Mozzarella

Written by Amine

Chicken is, and always has been, a popular food item. There are many ways to prepare delicious chicken because there are many countries with their own recipes and tastes.

Today I will share with you a chicken recipe that my mother used to make for us when we were little. He is smiling down on us in heaven today knowing that he has done a good job. None of us became criminals and none of us got mixed up in the Mafia. Also, I always tell the tourists to Palermo that Mafiosi don’t carry tommy guns anymore. They carry envelopes with hundreds of dollars worth of bills and they buy what they want instead of killing people for it.

Where am I? Oh yes, my Mama’s chicken recipe – Chicken with Mozzarella.

Okay, first you pick up some boneless chicken. If you have big foodies you can think about one and a half per person, or maybe even two, and unless you have your own small vegetable garden at home, you should pick some fresh basil leaves. (Hey, if it ain’t got basil in it, it ain’t Italian. What can I say?) And last but not least, a little bit of mozzarella cheese. You can get slices but that’s not as good as what I’m going to show you.

Now, on a clean cutting board, you lay out the chicken, side up, and cut a few horizontal slits across the top, about half an inch deep.

Put the oven up to 400º.

You can make a pan with aluminum foil, if not, at least spray it with non-stick spray. Leave the chicken out and insert a basil leaf into each open cut, half a fresh tomato (Roma is good, but any tomato will do.) Add a thick layer of mozzarella cheese. And as a final touch, slip in a thin layer of fresh onions.

Now you gently brush or spray a thin coat of olive oil over the chicken. Some people like what they call Italian seasoning, but I like just salt, pepper, a little sugar and maybe a hint of oregano.

Marsala (like Sicily’s national drink!) goes well with this, but don’t drink the whole bottle because you’ll burn your chicken.

After about twenty minutes, you should check the chicken. I use one of the small metal skewers they try cookies with. If it comes out clean, your chicken is done. If not, by that time you can turn the oven and let the chicken in another ten or fifteen minutes.

While this is going on, you can make any choice of pasta: spaghetti, rigatoni, mostaccioli or maybe good elbow macaroni. The kids love that and I bet Dad loves it too.

For a good sauce, put a handful of finely chopped garlic in a pan with olive oil, and when it is very hot, throw in some sliced ​​​​onions and celery and green peppers. When that is almost done, add some soup or, if there is none, use some beef or chicken or tomato broth with a cup of water a teaspoon. Not too much. Just what you think you’ll need for the family.

When that is boiled for a few minutes, filter it, add a can of tomato paste and maybe a can of diced tomatoes and boil again for a few minutes.

Served with greens and freshly grated Parmesan cheese on the table, you have a good dinner and the family will think that you really love them, even if it’s just a daily cooking.


1. Chicken Tano

  • One or 1-1/2 boneless, meatless chicken breasts per person

  • One pound of Mozzarella cheese

  • Two/three fresh Roma tomatoes

  • Three/four cloves of fresh garlic

  • Olive oil

  • Quarter pound fresh basil leaves

2. Pasta

Pasta of choice according to package directions for quantity

3. Sauce

A pint of broth (canned soup, beef, chicken or tomato, good).

Bring to a boil and add:

  • chopped celery

  • chopped onions

  • chopped peppers

  • finely chopped fresh basil (use whatever is left over from the chicken stuffing

  • a small amount of tomato paste

  • one can of diced tomatoes

The sauce should be simmered until it slightly thickens.

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