Thursday, 29 September 2011

Chicken Parmigiana

This post upsets me a little bit. Because although this meal is DELICIOUS [I've made it twice in the past 5 days, and at two portions per pop, this amounts to four servings. In 5 days I've had ten proper meals (lunch & dinner), so this constitutes approximately 40% of my ingoings. And I STILL love it] it isn't exactly aesthetically impressive.

Oh sure, it's cheesy, and tomato-y, rich with roasted garlic and slight nuttiness from the pinenuts in the breadcrumbs, and a little beurre noisette in the sauce. But it has defied my every wish to photograph it in a fancy way.

This may be due to the fact that I have approximately 4 hours in which to shoot in natural sunlight now in Edinburgh, which doesn't coincide brilliantly with when I actually want to eat dinner. However, I challenge anyone to take a bite of this and not immediately proclaim how amazing it is. And with one chicken breast serving two hungry people, it's also good for those of us on a tighter budget. Recipe to follow.

Chicken Parmigiana - serves 2
1 chicken breast
1 egg, beaten
3 slices of toast (I like to use wholegrain)
2 tbsps toasted pinenuts
75g parmesan, grated
30g butter
600g passata
1tsp caster sugar
1tsp oregano or mixed herbs
1 bulb of garlic (don't worry, you won't use all of this)
1 ball mozzarella

Start off by roasting the garlic - preheat your oven to 200C/400F, then prepare the garlic. Slice the top off the bulb, and peel away some of the outer layers, but keep the bulb intact. Drizzle the exposed cloves with olive oil, season with salt and pepper, then wrap in some in tin foil and roast for around 30-35 mins until soft when pressed.

Slice the chicken breast in half, lengthways, so you have two similar shaped but flatter breasts, if you'll excuse the imagery. Take a breast, and place it between two sheets of clingfilm. Using the end of a rolling pin, or other heavy similarly-shaped object, hammer the chicken out until it is as thick as a pound coin. Repeat with the other breast.

For the breadcrumbs, whizz up in a food processor the slices of toast, the pinenuts and half the parmesan, to make fine crumbs. Dip each chicken portion into the beaten egg, and then cover in the breadcrumbs and set to one side.

Melt the butter in a large pan over a medium low heat, and keep heating until it turns a nutty brown colour, but don't let it burn. Add 2-4 cloves of garlic to the brown butter, depending on your tastebuds (I could eat garlic on its own, I love it), and use a spoon to mash the softened garlic into a sort of paste with the butter. The rest of the garlic will keep well in the fridge with a thin covering of olive oil - use it in future dishes. Add the passata sauce, the sugar and herbs, and allow to simmer over a medium heat while you get your chicken sorted.

Cook the chicken under a hot grill for around 5 minutes on each side, until toasty brown but not burnt. Season the sauce to taste, pour into a dish and place the chicken on top. Top the chicken with the remaining parmesan and the mozzarella, then return to the grill until the cheese is bubbling and melted.

Prepare to be amazed at the sheer deliciousness.


  1. That looks amazing and I really want to eat it so your photo clearly works!

  2. Dare I say it, but for the purposes of photography you might need to experiment by solidifying a largeish portion in the fridge, so that you can 'sculpt' it, sort of of, for the pic, then put back the superficial shine of the molten cheese with a slight brushing of gycerine....This may be anathema to you, but it is one of the tricks a food stylist I know uses to make some gooeyer foods behave for the camera...