Food on Fire

Grab your axe: Let’s make a sandwich

Chilly weather? How about a Hot Italian Chicken Sandwich?

Grab your axe; let’s make a chicken sandwich.
Grab your axe; let’s make a chicken sandwich. — Timothy Fowler photo

Grab your axe––let’s make a sandwich. Bet you’ve never heard that before!

Here are directions to make a mind-blowing hot chicken Italian-style sandwich. I made these early in the fall, and the folks around the table would tell you it was worth the effort. A hot sandwich is even better when there is a bit of chill in the air. 

You don’t need an axe, but it makes such a great story.

A small axe is a near-perfect tool to make chicken cutlets.
A small axe is a near-perfect tool to make chicken cutlets. — Timothy Fowler photo

Tools and equipment

  • An axe (or a cleaver, meat mallet or heavy-bladed French knife)
  • Cutting board
  • Plastic wrap
  • Cast-iron frying pan big enough to hold four chicken cutlets
  • Toaster for the bread rolls (optional)
  • Three deep plates for breading and egg wash


  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, each half breast cut in two lengthwise, which yields four pieces of 60 to 90 grams (2 to 3 ounces) each
  • 4 torpedo-style bread rolls
  • 8 slices provolone cheese
  • 220 grams (2 cups) all-purpose flour
  • 5 grams (3 tablespoons) dry Italian herb blend seasoning
  • 1 egg
  • 120 ml (1/2 cup) milk
  • 220 grams (2 cups) fine bread crumbs
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Sweet or hot paprika
  • 30 ml (2 tablespoons) butter
  • 30 ml (2 tablespoons) olive oil
  • 120 ml (1/2 cup) shredded fresh Parmesan cheese
  • 1 796-ml (26-ounce) can diced Italian tomatoes (or substitute Italian tomato sauce)


1. First, get the tomato sauce going by opening the can of tomatoes into a medium-sized saucepan, and bring it to a boil. As soon as the tomatoes begin a rolling boil, turn back to a simmer and add 15 millilitres (1 tablespoon) of the Italian herb blend. Stir every few minutes. (As an alternative, buy ready-made Italian-herbed tomato sauce and heat it in a saucepan.)

2. Simmer the homemade sauce for about 30 minutes or longer until you need it to top the sandwiches.

3. For the chicken breading, you need three plates, one for each step:

  • Plate 1: Season 220 grams (2 cups) of flour to taste with Italian herbs and black pepper. Start with 15 millilitres (1 tablespoon) of herbs and 1 gram (½ teaspoon) of pepper.
  • Plate 2: Crack an egg into a shallow bowl, beat with a fork until the egg and white are blended, add milk, and beat with a few quick strokes.
  • Plate 3: Combine 220 grams (2 cups) of fine bread crumbs with Italian herb blend and paprika. Start with 15 millilitres (1 tablespoon) of each. (Use hot paprika if you like a little kick in your sandwich.) Add 2 grams (1/2 teaspoon) of salt and a grind of fresh pepper to taste.

4. To prepare the chicken cutlets, wash your axe (or other tool) well with soap and water, then dry. 

5. Place a cutting board on a solid surface. Put half a chicken breast between sheets of plastic wrap on the cutting board and gently bash the chicken into a thin even cutlet about 5 millimetres (¼ inch) thick. Repeat for each of four chicken pieces.

6. Dredge chicken pieces in flour, then egg, then bread crumbs, making sure the chicken is well coated at each step.

Cast iron is perfect to cook and crisp a cutlet.
Cast iron is perfect to cook and crisp a cutlet. — Timothy Fowler photo

7. Heat the cast-iron pan over medium heat, add butter and olive oil, and slide the breaded cutlet into the pan. Cook until golden, about six minutes on side one, four minutes on side two.

8. When chicken cutlets are done, place two slices of provolone on each cutlet, sprinkle with parmesan cheese, and cover with a lid for two minutes to melt cheese.

9. Meanwhile cut and toast torpedo rolls.

10. Arrange toasted rolls on a plate, slide a cooked cutlet onto the bottom half of the bun, and top with tomato sauce and the top half of the bread roll.

11. Arrange for a good supply of paper towels—this will get messy.


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