Chicken with Eggplant

July 19, 2009

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This is something I saw Lidia Bastianich do on one of her shows, and is it fabulous! Sometimes her sense of flavoring is a bit bland for me (I am a Flavor Junkie after all!) but this one is just spot-on!

Since I just watched the show and tried re-creating it without an actual recipe, please use the amounts below as guidelines, rather than directives.

Chicken with Eggplant

6 boneless skinless Chicken Breasts, pounded
2 medium Eggplants
Oil for frying
2 Tablespoons Butter
2 cups Tomato Sauce**
1/2 cup grated Romano Cheese
12 leaves Fresh Basil
1/2 cup White Wine
2 Tablespoons Butter

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Trim the eggplants, and peel if you prefer. Lidia stripes them, but I peel them (as my Papa will not tolerate the skin of the aubergine!) Slice on an angle, so that you have 12 good slices in all. (These you will stack two-to-a-breast, but more on that later..)

Dredge the eggplant in flour that has been seasoned with salt and pepper.

Heat a large skillet (preferably with a lid), add enough oil to coat the bottom, and fry** the eggplant on medium-high heat until caramelized on both sides. Set aside on paper towels to drain while you make the chicken.

Lightly pound the chicken breasts and dredge in the seasoned flour.

Reheat the same skillet on medium heat, add two tablespoons of oil and tablespoons of butter, swirling to mix. Cook the chicken until caramelized on the one side. You want the chicken to brown–but do not try to hasten the process by cooking it on high heat. You want to do it over gentle heat so as not to toughen the meat. Trust me, the extra few medium-heat-minutes will make all the difference in the succulence of your chicken breast, I promise.

Turn them over to caramelize on the other side, and top each breast with two slices of eggplant, then a spoonful of sauce, two basil leaves, and a good sprinkling of cheese.

Let cook for about two minutes, turn up the heat to medium-high, add the wine to the pan, then the remaining tomato sauce. Shake the pan a bit to mix, add in the last two tablespoons of butter and shake again to mix.

Put the lid on the pan (if your pan does not have a lid, cover with foil that has been sprayed with cooking spray) and finish cooking in the oven–approx 20 minutes.**

Remove from oven and serve with a flourish. Trust me, it tastes so delicious, the ‘flourish’ is fitting! *smile*

Some tips/hints:

** Try to use homemade tomato sauce—of course you can use your favorite store-bought and it will still taste great, but this is one of those dishes where you will be greatly rewarded for using the homemade.

**If you want to cut down on the fat/calories, you can grill or roast the eggplant instead.

**If need be you can finish on the stove (bring sauce to a boil then turn down to a simmer before covering), but please use the oven if you possibly can—it is this final oven cooking that makes the chicken meltingly tender and the wine, tomato sauce and butter transform themselves into an incredible sauce.

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Filed Under: Mains, Recipe, Savory

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