Baked Chicken Parmesan
It’s exam season again here in Law School Land, which means I need lots of food but don’t have lots of time to make it. We’ve got scrambled eggs down to a science and the Thai restaurant’s number memorized. But sometimes we need something more substantial, something to linger over.
In the spirit of legal disclaimers, this isn’t actually chicken parm. There’s no frying and no parmesan. But there’s no elegant way to say baked chicken covered in tomato puree and cheese, so I borrowed something familiar. You could come up with your own name, a la Steak Diane. I could call it Tuesday Chicken because it ends up on the table at least that often. Why? Because I love chicken (thighs), mozzarella and baked things and Stella, my 20-month-old, loves it, too. If that wasn’t reason enough, it takes approximately 3 minutes to prepare. Stick it in the oven, and a few Eric Carle books and a glass of wine later, you’ll have a bubbling, perfumed cheesy mess of deliciousness ready for dinner.
I’m not sure what the ratio of nature to nurture is here, but Stella has taken to dipping her bread in the sauce, sucking it out, then begging for “mo dipping mummy, peas?” Pretty soon she’ll insist that she partake in the pinot noir because honestly, mummy, one simply must accompany such fine flavors with proper libation.
So if you ever find yourself pressed for the time or energy to prepare a many-coursed meal for yourself or your family, I hope this baked chicken dish consoles you: it is possible to cook well on a Tuesday. Every Tuesday. Just cover meat with cheese and bake. Dip bread in sauce. Repeat. It’s simple math. Or is that physics? I’ll go ask Stella.
BAKED TUESDAY CHICKEN
Let’s say this is enough for 4 adults…adjust proportions accordingly! Would make a killer sub the next day. Truth.
12 chicken thighs (or 6 breasts, or a mixture)
approx 1/2 – 1 cup tomato passata
mozzarella (I use bocconcini but shredded would work, too)
10 basil leaves, torn
Preheat the oven to 350F/180C. In a large oven-proof dish, spread a few spoonfuls of tomato sauce on the bottom and lay the chicken pieces around evenly. Spoon a bit more sauce on top of the chicken (as in the photos), then cover with as much mozzarella (or similar melting cheese[s]) as you like. Sprinkle with fresh basil or oregano and some chili flakes if you want. I usually sprinkle a little olive oil on top, too, but it may just be habit.
Baked in the preheated oven for about 15 minutes. It will be ready when the cheese is melted, the sauce is bubbling, and the juices of the chicken run clear when pierced.
Serve with bread for dipping, salad for conscience and red wine for baby.