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Bruschetta, pronounced "Broo-sketta," is an Italian toast that is doused in olive oil and rubbed with fresh garlic. Through several centuries, the customary preparation has evolved to include toppings like mozzarella, chopped tomatoes, onions, basil and balsamic vinegar. These ingredients do not have to just smother toast though, as they fit just as tidily atop a dish like chicken bruschetta — prepared on the grill, batter-fried or baked for a hearty meal paired with pasta or potatoes.
The key ingredient for chicken bruschetta or the plain version is the fresh extra-virgin olive oil used to coat it. Originating in the central Tuscany region of Italy, this term, meaning "toast," was once just a way of referring to the garlic bread used to show off the local olive oil. Through the generations, however, chefs added a salad topping that has made this style of bread more distinct, from fresh red onions, tomatoes and basil to balsamic vinegar and thick slices of mozzarella. Since the ingredients are still fairly straightforward, their freshness is of utmost importance.
Many prepare chicken bruschetta unbreaded in the skillet or on the grill, in boneless strips or breasts. After the bruschetta ingredients are chopped, tossed in balsamic vinegar and olive oil, and seasoned with salt and pepper, they are set aside — often as long as overnight. When ready, the chicken is salted, peppered and grilled until cooked through. The bruschetta salad can then be combined with chunks of mozzarella and spooned on top of the chicken.
For added texture, others coat their chicken bruschetta in a batter of flour, eggs and breadcrumbs steeped in butter and Parmesan cheese. These can then be deep-fried or baked in the oven — at about 375°F (about 191°C) for 20 minutes covered, then about 10 minutes more uncovered to make the breading crispy. About five minutes before finally removing the chicken from the oven, the bruschetta ingredients can be spooned onto the chicken for a quick melding of flavors.
Chicken bruschetta is not the only alternative for enhancing these traditional Italian flavors. Some chefs make a few varieties of bruschetta for diners to choose from, on several types of bread. More recognizable additions to this food include meats like prosciutto, chopped olives or capers, other vegetables like scallions or peppers, and additional herbs like mint, parsley or dill. The cheese does not have to be mozzarella, either. Often, Romano, Parmesan, goat cheese or ricotta are used instead.
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