It's no secret in our circle of family and friends that both my kids (and even my son's girlfriend) are massive fans of Chicken Parmigiana - every time that we go out for dinner to a bistro it's almost instant when I ask have you decided what you want for dinner the instant reply (unless something really catches their eye) is Chicken Parmigiana, Chips and Salad.
I am going to be totally honest here - I am not a fan of Chicken Parmigiana! Yep! I find the deep fried crumbed chicken fillet at times greasy along with the generally rather large amount of melted cheese on top too much for me.. too much grease on some occasions. Sadly I just don't get the phenomena!! And I sasy phenomena as it seems to be people's most go to dish when they are out for dinner.
So with this in mind, I came across an American recipe for Chicken Parmesan Casserole. After a little more reading I actually found many different versions of the same casserole (as we do with most American recipes depending on with US State you live in). Many different versions from whether the tomato sauce is on the top or the bottom, whether you crumb the chicken and fry it beforehand or whether you use croutons in the topping..... so in my quest to please the family I morphed a few recipes together and came up with "my" version (like Jo has never done that before - I can see my family rolling their eyes in the back of their heads LOL).
I have to say that this dish is absolutely amazing. For a start it was very easy to prepare not to mention cook. I am not overly fussed with plain tomato passata so I add the element of making a quick tomato sauce to top the chicken fillets with. If you want to use a jar or two of plain or herbed passata or pasta sauce please go right ahead. That will only make this recipe even easier.
Yes it was cheesy - the gooey mozzeralla layer laced with fresh basil was soft and comforting. I know the cheese is a major component to the parmigiana. And for those who do like the crumbs, they are not omitted completely. Panko breadcrumbs mixed with Parmesan cheese and parsley make a beautiful crunchy topping - completing the dish perfectly.
Even though I did not serve with the traditional hot chips - I served it with Oregano and Chilli Crispy Potatoes and salad, I do have to say this dish was a hit at the House of Murray and I am sure that it will be when served at yours also. You may just want to double the recipe - just like I did!
Chicken Parmesan Casserole
1 onion, finely diced
1 bottle tomato passata 660 gram
1 can diced tomatoes 440 gram
freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons crushed garlic
1 teaspoon crushed chilli flakes
4 skinless chicken breast fillets, visible fat removed
ground white pepper
1 cup grated mozzarella
20 grams fresh basil leaves, chopped
1 1/2 cups panko breadcrumbs
1 cup grated Parmesan cheeses
1 tablespoon dried parsley flakes
Spray a small saucepan with cooking spray and heat over low heat. Add onion and cook, stirring, until softened. Add passata and tomatoes. Season with black pepper. Simmer until thickened and liquid has slightly reduced, stirring occasionally.
Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
Spray a large casserole dish with cooking spray. Place olive oil, garlic and chilli flakes in casserole dish and stir to combine. Ensure this is spread around the surface of the dish. Place chicken breast fillets in a single layer in the dish. Season with salt and pepper.
Evenly spread the tomato mixture over the chicken fillets.
Top with mozzarella cheese. Sprinkle basil over mozzarella.
In a bowl combine the panko breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese and parsley. Spread evenly over the mozzarella.
Bake in oven for 1 hour or until chicken is cooked through.