The original Gott’s Roadside in St. Helena

In our imaginations, we’re all tooling around the Bay Area looking at the scenery, visiting shops, and stopping at roadside eateries to enjoy some casual-classic California cuisine featuring local ingredients . . . you know … a burger with a fried egg, bacon, and balsamic onions, some ahi poke crispy tacos, or a chicken kale Caesar salad. We’ll order a hand-spun organic shake or a pour of some fine local beer or wine. Those are items we might have enjoyed at one of the six Gott’s Roadside locations.

 

 Gott’s Roadside in Napa

Gott’s Roadside was founded in 1999 in Saint Helena by brothers Joel and Duncan Gott, who later expanded their restaurants to San Francisco’s Ferry Building Marketplace, Napa’s Oxbow Public Market, Palo Alto’s Town & Country Village, Broadway Plaza Shopping Center in Walnut Creek, Bon Air in Marin, and a licensed location at San Francisco International Airport.

Jen Rebman, Gott’s culinary director, gave us this home version of a Gott’s favorite to enjoy this summer while we have to stick around at home and may have plenty of time to cook. “It’s a family favorite at my house,” she says of this seasonal sandwich she created for Gott’s Roadside a couple of years ago. “I bread and fry chicken breasts and top them with house-made tomato sauce, Parmesan cheese, fresh mozzarella, and basil leaves. It’s served on an Italian roll that’s buttered and press-grilled until golden brown.”

You’ll need to plan ahead for this sandwich, and maybe learn some new techniques. As Jen says, “Some of the ingredients can be prepared in advance and frozen so they are available for a last-minute craving.”

Gott’s Chicken Parmesan Sandwich 

Recipe by Jen Rebman, Culinary Director, Gott’s Roadside

Serves 4

Frozen Basil Cubes
To preserve fresh basil, I like to freeze it in ice cube trays to thaw as needed.They can be used in spreads, on sandwiches, added to salad dressings, or drizzled over soups for a pop of flavor and color.

Makes enough to fill 1 ice cube tray

2 bunches fresh basil rinsed, dried, and stems removed.
1/3 cup olive oil

Remove the basil leaves from the stem and wash and dry completely. Purée the basil leaves with the olive oil. Freeze the pureed basil in ice cube trays, then store the frozen cubes in a freezer-safe container.

Jen Rebman’s Homemade Tomato Sauce
Store-bought tomato sauce will work for the sandwich; just be sure to reduce it on the stove to a thick consistency prior to building your sandwiches.

Makes enough sauce for 4 sandwiches

1 28-ounce can Italian plum tomatoes (whole, cubed, or crushed)
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
¼ teaspoon chili flakes
Salt to taste
1 sprig fresh basil, if available
Pinch sugar, if necessary (Some canned tomatoes are naturally sweeter and will not require the addition of sugar.)

Heat the oil in a pot over medium-low heat and add the minced garlic. Sweat until tender and translucent. Add the tomatoes (if using the whole plum tomatoes, crush them with your hands prior to adding), oregano, chili, salt, and basil to the pot and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the sauce has reduced by half (the sauce should be thick with little liquid remaining). Taste and add a pinch of sugar if desired for balance. Sauce can be frozen at this point or stored in the fridge for up to 1 week.

Breaded Fried Chicken Breasts
Jen uses Mary’s chicken breasts, which she marinates in buttermilk, then breads, and fries until crisp. Here’s a recipe that resembles what she does. The author, like Jen, suggests making a big batch to stockpile for later meals.

Gott’s Chicken Parmesan Sandwich for 4
4 Italian rolls
4 breaded and fried chicken breasts or 2 tenders per sandwich (Note: Applegate Organics chicken breast tenders are a good substitute for homemade)
12 ounces tomato sauce (recipe above)
4 ounces shredded Parmesan cheese
4 frozen basil cubes or 3-5 fresh basil leaves per sandwich
8 slices fresh mozzarella or 8 ounces shredded mozzarella
4 tablespoons melted butter

Slice rolls in half lengthwise and lay face up on your work surface. Place fried chicken on the bottom half of the roll. Top the chicken with 3 ounces of hot tomato sauce, covering the entire piece of chicken. Sprinkle shredded Parmesan cheese over the tomato sauce. Top Parmesan with shredded mozzarella. Spread basil sauce across the entire top of bun. (If using fresh basil leaves spread them across the top of the Parmesan cheese and under the mozzarella.)

If you have a panini press you can butter both sides of your sandwich and press until golden brown. If you don’t have a panini press, place butter in a skillet on medium-low heat and add your sandwiches. Press the sandwiches down with a plate placed on top of the sandwiches weighted down or just brown both sides. Carefully remove from heat, cut in half and serve immediately.