Oh, sweet mystery of life at last I've found you. How did I not know about chicken parm? Of course I've had it — probably in sandwich form, on my way home from a bar late at night, early in my twenties. But making it at home is the simplest thing and, oh, my God it's so good.
This recipe comes courtesy of Natalee Caple, an author, friend and fellow Mum. She's also a Facebooker who regularly posts what she's cooking for her family. Natalee's twins, Casey and Imogen, just turned four and her posts of their meals always inspire me. She'll be our guest blogger this Friday as a matter of fact. But I couldn't wait on this one — had to make it and post it myself. Natalee made this recently with Romano cheese rather than Parmesan — either are perfect, just go with what you've got.
OMG Chicken Parm
Simple Tomato Sauce
1 28 ounce tin of whole plum tomatoes (Natalee likes Marzanos)
Good glug of extra virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves roughly chopped
handful of herbs — basil, oregano, thyme (I supplemented with some dry as my garden is just getting started)
a splash of red wine vinegar (not in Natalee's version but I always add it)
pinch of salt and pepper
Sautee the garlic in the oil for a couple of minutes and then add the tomatoes. Let them simmer and keep breaking them down with the back of a wooden spoon. Simmer for about 20 minutes while you prepare the chicken. Towards the end, add the herbs and season with salt and pepper.
4 Chicken breasts cut in half. (If you've got knife skills, cut them in half horizontally so you have two thinner pieces per breast. If you don't, just cut them in half the easy way but they'll take a bit longer in the oven)
1 1/2 cups Breadcrumbs (Natalee made her own wholegrain crumbs, I had some Panko handy)
Several basil leaves roughly torn
1 1/2 cups grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
1 cup milk
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Brown the chicken pieces in a medium pan with a bit of oil until brown. Don't worry about cooking the meat through. As each batch cooks, place the chicken in a large casserole dish. Cover the chicken in tomato sauce. Scatter the basil leaves over the sauce. Cover all with the shredded cheese. Pop in the oven for ten minutes, then increase the heat to 400 degrees for another ten minutes. Take out the biggest piece and cut into it to check done-ness. I needed another 5 minutes.
This meal was also Julian's first taste of meat. I first held a tiny bit to his lips for him to taste. Then Ben gave him a bigger (sauce-less) piece to hold and gnaw for himself. He said something like: Mmmgrrrrah! And chomped the whole thing down even though he doesn't have a tooth yet. He also liked the green beans.