I know what you’re thinking! Is she out of her mind to do all that work. Ok, I got some “splainin” to do. When I don’t cook during the weeknight, I feel like I let my family down, because they enjoy my cooking for the most part. I had class one day, and by the time I got home, I looked at the chicken cutlets, and said to myself, what am I going to do with them? I decided, I wasn’t going to cook, and order in. That’s what we did. The next day, I still had to come up with an idea for the chicken. I wanted to dress it up, and make up for not cooking the night before. I found an eggplant in my veggie bin, had plenty of eggs, olive oil, and seasoned breadcrumbs. The lightbulb went on in my head, how about making a Chicken & Eggplant Parmigiana combo. It was crazy but I had my mind-set on it. I normally make eggplant parm or chicken parm separately, but this time, I decided to combine them. This dish was a big hit, and when I saw the smile on my family’s face, I knew I had redeemed myself. I must admit, I was happy with the result. Of course, my kitchen was a mess, but it was worth all the work. I suggest you make this on the weekend when you have some time to spare, and I promise you, your family will adore you for it.
This is a recipe that I created in My Kitchen, and I’m excited to share it with all of you.
Level of difficulty: Medium-difficult
Total time from start to finish: 1 hour and 20 minutes
Ingredients: (1st set)
- 1.25 – 1.5 lb. chicken cutlets (thinly sliced)
- 1 eggplant, sliced
- 3 eggs, beaten
- Lots of seasoned breadcrumbs
- Lots of extra virgin olive oil, or regular olive oil
- 1/2 lb. fresh Mozzarella, sliced
- Pecorino Romano or Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, grated
- Salt and pepper to taste
1) Season eggplant with salt and pepper, let it sit for at least 10-minutes. Dip the eggplant in eggs, then hold it for a second to remove any excess, drench in seasoned breadcrumbs. (always shake of excess) . Do it one at a time, (eggs, +breadcrumbs) Place them on a dish. Time to pan-fry them.
2) On medium-high heat, cover the bottom of a large pan with olive oil, pan fry the eggplants in a single layer, 3 minutes on one side, and 3 minutes on the other side. Remove, and repeat the same method over. It’s ok, if oil is a little dirty, add more oil, if necessary. Set the eggplant aside. If you feel like the burner is too hot, just lower the heat a little.
Ingredients for the sauce:
- 1 large can of whole tomatoes, (San Marzano)
- 4 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 large basil leaf, torn
- Salt & Pepper to taste
- 1/4 cup or so of extra virgin olive oil
1) In a medium-sized saucepan, on medium-high heat, heat up the oil, sauté the garlic for a minute or so. Add the tomatoes, and crush them using a potato masher. You can also use your hands to crush them before putting them in the pot. Drop the basil, season with salt and pepper, and simmer for about 15 minutes. While the sauce is simmering on low, you will be preparing the chicken.
2) Season chicken with salt and pepper, dip in eggs, and seasoned breadcrumbs, set aside. In the meanwhile, clean up the pan you fried the eggplant in, (just drain old oil, and wipe clean with a paper towel. Start with some fresh olive oil. You will be using the same method as the eggplant. Pan fry for 2 minutes on one side, and 1 minute on other side. Do not taste the chicken at this point, as it may not be fully cooked. It will finish cooking in the oven. Work in batches, then repeat the same process over.
3) By this time, the eggplant, the sauce and the chicken are ready to be assembled in a large casserole baking dish. Spread some sauce on the bottom of dish, arrange the chicken, (as much as you can fit) add some sauce, grated cheese, Mozzarella, layer with eggplant, and repeat. You may end up with an extra piece or two of chicken, just fit them somewhere, it doesn’t have to be perfect. You are not building a house, LOL! Finish with Mozzarella on top.
4) Bake in a 375 degree F. oven for 15 minutes and broil for 5 minutes.
Tip: Always make sure oil is hot before frying, otherwise, the eggplant will come out soggy and drenched in oil.
I hope you will try this delicious dish. If you are on a budget, you do not have to use expensive brands. Any canned tomatoes will do the job, and some regular parmesan cheese. If fresh mozzarella is too expensive, just use the packaged ones.
Pairing suggestions: A lovely Chianti, Rosso di Montalcino, Vino Nobile, or a Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. You can find the last one reasonably priced. They are all Italian wines, as I like to pair the cuisine and the wines from the same country together. Sometimes, it can even be broken down by region, especially in Italian cooking, where many dishes are very regional. Ideally, you would pair the dish with a wine from the same region.
Gina, from Foodiewinelover