Who loves a good Italian? And more so Italian Chicken. I know my family, and I do. Now with this dish, I am not trying to recreate an authentic Italian meal but embrace the common ingredients that associate with Italian food. What is scary; is how chain restaurants have clouded the perception of the real Italian meal. Don’t get me wrong as a trip out with the family sometimes these are a perfect go to, as my wife and I know the kids will enjoy the food available.
What makes authentic Italian food then? While looking online for authentic Italian food, I come across a great post by Sara Jenkins of theatlantic.com which I found fascinating on how the world has changed its thought on what is authentic Italian food.
The key message I got from the post was that;
“Things change, our palates change and what was new today may become the tradition of tomorrow.”
I think this such a great statement and one that I think as a chef, especially within the Army I embrace all of the time. I may not recreate new traditions but being in the middle of a field in the cold and wet, or the heat of the Iraq desert innovation, imagination and keeping things fresh is what keeps the soldier’s morale up.
So what makes this recipe Italian? Maybe it’s the sweet tomato sauce, mozzarella or the Parmesan crust or maybe a little bit of everything. Some or most of the ingredients can be, linked to Italian food, and I think this is important when feeding my family. Association enables the ability to try new flavours as when we tag a label to a recipe, we and especially my kids will link it to food that was enjoyed in the past whether at home or in a restaurant.
The embodiment of Italian style food is what I have tried to embrace here. The dish itself with its moist chicken, sweet tomato sauce, mozzarella that has the stretchy pull we all enjoy, and the crispy Parmesan crust.
I served this dish with some simple roasted new potatoes glazed with a garlic and rosemary butter, and a nice green salad.
Please try and if you enjoy or have any feedback let me know.
Italian Chicken Tray Bake
- 1 Medium onion cut into medium dice
- 2 cloves garlic crushed
- 1 tsp. dried Oregano
- 800 g Tinned chopped tomatoes
- 1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
- 1 tbsp. sugar granulated or caster
- 250 g Mozzarella sliced
- 2 tbsp. olive oil
- 75 g Fresh parmesan grated
- 50 g Breadcrumbs
- Make the tomato sauce first by heating a tbsp. of olive oil in a medium sized saucepan over a medium to high heat.
- Add the onion and sweat until soft and starting to colour slightly, about 5 to 7 minutes then add the garlic and oregano and fry for a further minute.
- Add the chopped tomatoes then reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
- While the sauce is simmering, heat a frying pan over a medium to high heat, add the remaining olive oil. Season the chicken breasts then fry for about 5 minutes on each side and a nice golden brown.
- Place the seared chicken into an oven proof dish and place the mozzarella over each chicken breast.
- Add the balsamic vinegar and sugar to the tomato sauce, stir and season to your liking.
- Spoon the tomato sauce evenly over the chicken and then sprinkle the breadcrumbs and parmesan evenly over each chicken breast. Add a sprinkle of extra oregano if you wish.
- Bake for a further 10 minutes until the chicken is cooked through.
- Serve with a nice green salad and some herb roasted new potatoes.