• Parmesan crusted chicken

    Parmesan crusted chicken

    This is a seemingly simple method for cooking chicken breasts but some sort of magic takes place; the succulence of the chicken is quite astonishing.


    The savoury crumb mix gives protection during the even heat of oven cooking, resulting in very tender, moist meat with a lovely flavour. Harold McGee’s wonderful book of cooking science On Food & Cooking is very interesting to read on this topic. In essence, too high a heat for too long on the outside of any muscle changes the structure of the protein, causing it to seize up and become tough.

    It is a great dish for a party or large number of guests as much of the preparation can be done in advance. The chicken breasts can marinate overnight in the fridge and the crumb mix can also be made well ahead and refrigerated, leaving just the coating and cooking to the last minute.

    For a large platter arrange rocket leaves or other baby greens on a flat dish. Slice the chicken into thick pieces, dot them here and there, and garnish with halved cherry tomatoes (preferably of different colours) and chunks of avocado. Drizzle the mayonnaise dressing over the top.


    The Recipe

    Parmesan crusted chicken (serves 4-6)
    4 large chicken breasts, skin off
    2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
    2 tbsp olive oil
    salt and pepper
    60g Parmesan or Grana cheese
    2 large, thick slices sourdough or 1 small pide bread, crusts on
    2 tbsp flat leaf parsley, chopped
    2 tsp fresh thyme leaves, chopped
    Bash the chicken breasts with a rolling pin to flatten the thickest part, making them more even in thickness. Place in a bowl with the garlic, olive oil and plenty of salt and pepper. Mix around thoroughly. Leave for 15 minutes or marinate overnight in the fridge.
    Preheat oven to 210C. Make the crumb coating in a food processor. Process chunks of the Parmesan or Grana to crumbs. Add the bread, cut in large pieces and process till coarse crumbs form. Add the parsley and thyme and process a few seconds more.
    Coat the chicken breasts generously with the crumb mixture, pressing down well. Place the breasts on a large oven tray lined with baking paper. Cook for 12-15 minutes depending on the size and thickness of the breasts. Remove from oven and rest on the tray for at least five minutes before slicing thickly.

    For the creamy mayonnaise dressing: Mix a cup of Best Foods mayonnaise with 1 tsp each balsamic vinegar and Worcestershire sauce. Add squeeze of lemon and few drops of Tabasco. Thin with about 2 tbsp warm water to achieve pouring consistency.

    Serve slices of the chicken with boiled, sliced baby new potatoes, rocket and tomato salad and the creamy mayonnaise dressing.