Chicken Parmigiana

I’m not sure how “Italian” this is, but it is a dish we’ve made and enjoyed for over thirty years. I think it started life from a “Food Aid” cookbook. If you like Aubergine then thick slices can be used in place of the chicken breasts to make a veggie alternative.
We use dried herbs in this. The dried oregano is not that unusual but we also use dried basil in place of fresh. It does create a different flavour and I think it’s the familiar comfort of that flavour that I like. Use fresh if you like.
The quantity below is generous for 4 people.

Ingredients

  • Olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic crushed
  • 2 tins chopped tomatoes (with nothing added, ie. no herbs, spices, salt)
  • 2 courgettes (zucchini) sliced
  • 75-150g mozzarella (mozzarella in brine, not the hard plastic stuff), sliced
  • 50-75g parmesan grated from a block (not the horrible pre-grated stuff)
  • 4 chicken breasts
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons dried basil
  • Salt to taste (I find 1 teaspoon per tin of tomatoes a good guide for anything)
  • Ground pepper to taste
To coat chicken breasts:
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 75g wholemeal flour
  • 50-75g finely grated parmesan

Method

  1. Put the onions in some oil and soften them gently till they are translucent and soft. This can take about 20 minutes.
  2. Mix the flour and parmesan in a plate, and whisk the egg in a bowl
  3. Coat the chicken breasts by dipping in the egg and then in the mix of flour and parmesan. Leave to the side while you prepare the rest of the ingredients. This lets the coating bind better to the chicken.
  4. Add the garlic once the onions are soft. (Garlic cooks much quicker than the onions and easily burns to the bottom of the frying pan if put in too early.)
  5. Now add the tinned tomatoes, basil, oregano, salt, pepper. Keep the heat low allowing everything to simmer and the herbs to flavour the sauce.
  6. Add the courgette to the sauce and warm up. You don’t really need to cook these as the whole dish goes into the oven.
  7. Heat a separate frying pan with olive oil, I often add a knob of butter too. Brown the chicken breasts (or aubergine slices) until golden, but not cooked through.
  8. Take a baking dish and put the chicken breasts on the bottom. Lay slices of mozzarella on top of the breasts. Finally, pour over the tomato sauce mixture to cover the chicken.
  9. Cover with foil or a lid and put in a medium oven (180°C) for about 20-25 minutes. After this take the lid or foil off, sprinkle over the remaining parmesan and cook in the oven for a further 20-25 minutes.
I like to serve the Chicken Parmigiana with some plain boiled rice but it works with pretty much anything.

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