Last night I made this classic Italian-American dish for dinner and it was….*drumroll*…a SUCCESS with the kids! In fact, it got wolfed down so quickly, I did not have time to remember to take a photo…
I used the recipe from the good ol’ The Joy of Cooking (page 589 of the 1999 UK edition) almost to the letter; instead of flattening the chicken breasts, I sliced them in half lengthwise, thereby doubling the amount and providing enough for dinner tonight – hoorah! *air punch*. I also used buttermilk and seasoned spelt flour instead of the flour/egg/breadcrumb combo for coating the chicken breasts, because I had a pot of buttermilk in the fridge that needed to be used. I also skipped the optional ingredients (grated parmesan and chopped herbs) as the tomato sauce I used (my own) is herby enough and I am trying to cut down on the amount of fat in our diet. Below is my version.
Ingredients: (for 6 servings)
For the chicken:
- 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, sliced in half lengthwise
- 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 200ml buttermilk
- 2 cups of spelt flour (you can use regular wheat flour if you have this)
- 125ml homemade tomato sauce + 250ml homemade tomato sauce (but use store-bought tomato pasta sauce if this is what you have to hand)
- Grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 normal sized ball of mozzarella cheese, sliced (I used low-fat, which worked fine)
1. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas 4. In a large fryingpan, heat the olive oil. Put the buttermilk in one bowl and the flour (seasoned with the salt and pepper) in another. Slice the chicken breasts lengthwise and dip first in the buttermilk, then the flour. Put the coated breasts on a plate. Fry three slices at a time (transfer the fried chicken to a paper towel-lined plate.
2. When all the chicken has been fried, spread 125ml of tomato sauce on the bottom of a large oven-proof dish and arrange the chicken in one layer over it, with each piece slightly overlapping the previous one.
3. Sprinkle the chicken with grated Parmesan (about 3-4 tablespoons) and spoon over another 250 ml of tomato sauce. Top each chicken slice with sliced mozzarella cheese and then sprinkle on another 40g of grated Parmesan.
4. Cover the dish with aluminium foil and bake until heated through (about 20-30 minutes). To brown the the top, remove the foil for the last 10 minutes and place under the broiler.
For the polenta: (these are the instructions on the polenta I bought from our local healthfood shop)
- 250g polenta
- 1 litre water
- 1 teaspoon salt
- a good-sized knob of butter (about 20g)
- A few good shakes of ground nutmeg
1. Put the water, salt and butter into a large saucepan and bring to the boil.
2. When boiling, whisk in the polenta and let it continue to boil for a minute or so. Remove the pan from the heat and allow the polenta to soak up the liquid, stiring every so often, for about 10 minutes. Add a few good shakes of ground nutmeg and stir in.
I served the chicken parmigiana over the polenta, which I spooned onto plates straight from the pan. It was, to be frank, delicious. I can see a few ways of cutting down the fat content (less cheese or low-fat cheese; baking the chicken rather than frying) and I will be trying these out in future.