* First off, I have to say, this meal was bloody delicious *
I love simple cooking, and I especially love a tray bake! The other day I was feeling a little glum, so I treated myself to a new cook book- Joe Wicks, Cooking for Friends and Family. As much as I enjoy cooking for others, what I really had in mind for this book was that I could make big dishes and freeze them- making my life easier! Not only are the dishes low in carbs and fat, all the recipes have really clear guides, and also highlight whether or not they’re good for freezing.
Today, my chicken parmigiana is both reduced carb and freezable- perfect. I had to do a huge shop today, and instead of going to Aldi, I managed to get everything in Coles Supermarket. I was pleasantly surprised by some of the bargains I found, especially a loaf of GF bread for $1.27. As I bought (nearly) all the ingredients today, I am able to do a cost per serving too, this will be at the bottom of my blog!
So, here we go… Chicken Parmigiana!
My ingredients were:
- 4 Chicken breasts
- 2 Aubergines
- 600g Tin tomatoes
- 50g Tomato puree
- Mozzarella (I used 210g bocconcini)
- 2tsp Italian herbs
- Fresh basil (Sadly I couldn’t find any)
- 1tbsp Balsamic vinegar
- Salt + Pepper
Start with a preheated oven. Mine is set at 250 degrees, but it is a useless university halls oven- Joe Wicks recommends 190 degrees.
The first step is to prep the chicken and the aubergine. I started off by tenderising the chicken breasts. Only doing two at a time, I laid one piece of cling film over a chopping board (hard surface is required), placed two chicken breasts on top of that, and then another layer of cling film again- like a cling film sandwich. Using a rolling pin (or other blunt object) I then bashed the chicken, so that it became thinner and flatter. I repeated this with the second two breasts.
Once this was completed, I seasoned both sides of the chicken and pan fried, once again, in batches of two because I had a small pan. The pan had a drizzle of oil in, which I ensured was hot before adding the chicken. They only needed around 1 minute on each side, it is only to brown the edges, the actual cooking happens in the oven a little later! Once again, I repeated on the other two breasts.
The prep for the aubergine is very similar. Using a sharp knife, I carefully sliced each aubergine into around 6/8 slices, depending on your desired thickness. If you wanted thin strips, a mandolin may be useful, however, I found the knife did the trick! In the same pan as before, I added another drizzle of oil and browned the aubergine on both sides, making sure each piece was well seasoned. This took about 3 batches so that I didn’t overcrowd the pan.
As my aubergine was in the pan I started on my tomato sauce. This was really simple. In a jug, I mixed together 600g tin tomatoes, tomato puree, Italian herbs, basil, balsamic vinegar and salt and pepper. I chose diced tomatoes; however, the recipe does call for chopped- I guess it is up to personal preference, and how chunky you like your tomatoes. Sadly, I couldn’t find any fresh basil in Coles today, so my sauce went without. Despite this, it was still really tasty, but I imagine the basil gives it a deeper, more Italian-y flavour.
Now for the fun part- the construction. For this you need a large oven-proof baking tray or roasting tin.
I started by pouring 1/3 of the tomato sauce into the tray. Following this, I added ½ of the cooked aubergines, followed by a layer of half the mozzarella. Seasoning with each layer. The next step was the chicken, which overlapped a couple of the slices of the mozzarella/bocconcini- Bocconcini are mini mozzarella balls, which I find easier to source here in Aus. Finally, the remainder of the aubergine was added, along with the remaining sauce and leftover slices of mozzarella to finish.
Now it is time for the oven! For the first 15 minutes of cooking, cover the roasting tin with tinfoil, and after this time is up, remove the foil and cook for a further 15 minutes. The smells coming from the oven during cooking will be like an Italian, fragrant pizza restaurant!
I served my parmigiana with a few gem lettuce leaves and it was good to go! I think the chicken would go well with a number of accompaniments, including rice and even some green seasonal veggies.
This dinner was honestly SOOOO delicious! I even let two of my housemates try it, to share the amazing flavours- which, I must say, is a rarity for me, because I rarely share food. I am so glad I have 3 more portions in the freezer.
To make the dish EVEN better, it was relatively low cost, the most expensive aspect being the chicken. However, when this is split into 4 portions, all of which were a really good size, it doesn’t amount to a lot at all! All in all, each serving would cost $4.45 AUD, totalling to £2.41 GBP. Absolute bargain!
I am really pleased with how this dish turned out, and how easy the recipe was to follow! I really recommend this recipe, along with many more from Joe Wicks.