LCHF Chicken Parm

After the success of the pizza, I thought I would try something else Italian-ish. I’ve never actually had chicken parm, but really, what’s not to like? This recipe is a bit convoluted as I used the chicken skin to make the “breadcrumbs”, but you could make it simpler by using skinned and boned chicken thighs and a packet of pork rinds. You could of course go traditional and use chicken breasts, but they are: i) more expensive; ii) less tasty; iii) less fatty, and; iv) more likely to dry up. I also happened to make a triumphant tomato sauce, so I used all of it in the dish (not sure a real chicken parm would have so much sauce). You could save any extra sauce for use in something else if you’re not as much of a sauceophile as me!

Serves 4

Ingredients:
For the chicken:
4 chicken thighs
20 g parmesan cheese, grated
50 g ground almonds
Clarified butter for shallow-frying
Salt & pepper

For the sauce:
1 large onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, sliced
1 red pepper, finely chopped
1 courgette, finely chopped (optional)
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp chilli flakes
1 tbsp tomato puree
2 fresh tomatoes, chopped
400g tin chopped tomatoes
200 ml white wine (about half a tomato tin’s worth)
Salt & pepper
Butter for frying

For the toppings:
250 g mozzarella cheese, chopped
50 g parmesan cheese, grated
2 tbsp basil pesto

Pre-heat the oven to 180°C.

First, prepare the chicken. Remove the skin from the chicken thighs and place on a baking tray, as flat as you can. Season the skins with salt and pepper, place a layer of foil over them and place another tray on top. Bake in the oven for approximately 20 minutes, or until the skins are golden and crispy. Try not to eat them all at this point. Nachos anyone? Harvest any rendered chicken fat to use later. Place the skins on some kitchen towel and set to one side.

While the skins are in the oven, prepare the tomato sauce. Melt some butter in a pan and sweat the onions and garlic over a medium heat, until soft. Add the chilli flakes, dried basil and season well with salt and pepper. Add the pepper and continue to sweat for a few minutes until soft.

Next add the courgette and sweat for a further few minutes until soft. Now add the tomato puree, allow to cook for a minute and then add the fresh and tinned tomatoes, along with the white wine. Simmer for 20 minutes on a gentle heat.

While the sauce is simmering, prepare the chicken for frying. Remove the bones from the chicken thighs, using a sharp knife. Open the thighs out and give them a good bashing with a rolling pin, until they are nice and flat.

For the crumb, blitz up the crispy chicken skins in a food processor, and mix together with the ground almonds, parmesan cheese and some freshly ground black pepper.

Coat the chicken thighs in the crumb mixture (use a beaten egg if the crumbs don’t stick). Heat some clarified butter (and any harvested chicken fat from earlier) in a frying pan (enough to shallow-fry the chicken) until super hot (test by dropping in some of the crumb mixture – if it sizzles, you’re good to go). Fry the thighs, one at a time, for two minutes on each side until the crumbs are golden (don’t worry about fully cooking the chicken, it’s going to have some oven time).

Once the chicken has been fried and the sauce has had about 20 minutes of simmering, whizz up the sauce using a hand blender. Check for seasoning and add more if needed.

Now it’s time for layering! Place about a third of the sauce in the bottom of a shallow oven dish. Next, lay the chicken thighs all over the bottom of the dish and top with the mozzarella, parmesan and dollops of pesto (oh any any leftover crumbs, including the ones from the frying pan that fell off the chicken. Go ahead and pour the fat in there too). Cover the whole thing in the rest of the sauce and grate some extra parmesan on top, just for good measure.

Bake in the oven for approximately 35 minutes, or until the chicken is fully cooked, the sauce has reduced and the cheese is all lovely and melty. Serve a piece of chicken, with loads of the sauce (and cheese) and some token green beans (or green veg of your choice).

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More things should be cooked in butter

Chicken drumsticks. Not my favourite parts of a chicken, if I’m honest. Too many bony sinewy bits make them more hassle than they’re worth and, as such, I very rarely buy them. We did get some in our meat box, though, so I decided to treat these happy chicken drumsticks with a bit of time, care and attention. They turned out beautifully, and I don’t think I would want them any other way!

Confit chicken drumsticks with a tomato and red pepper sauce

Ingredients:
For the chicken:
5 chicken drumsticks (or any number you want to cook!)
1 tbsp salt
About 400 g butter (depending on pan size)
3 large cloves of garlic
4 sprigs fresh thyme
1 tsp whole black peppercorns

For the sauce:
2 medium onions, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, sliced
3 sweet pointed peppers, roasted (from a jar), sliced
1 tsp chilli flakes (optional)
1 tsp dried mixed herbs
1 tbsp tomato purée
6 medium tomatoes, chopped (or 1 tin chopped tomatoes)
200 ml white wine
1 tbsp butter + 2 tbsp olive oil for frying
Salt & pepper to taste

Generously salt the drumsticks and leave them in the fridge overnight or for a few hours (I salted them in the morning and cooked them in the afternoon). When you’re ready to cook the drumsticks, wash off the salt marinade and pat the drumsticks dry with kitchen paper.

Pre-heat the oven to 100°C.

Melt about half of the butter in an oven-proof pan that’s just big enough to hold the drumsticks. Add the drumsticks, garlic, thyme and peppercorns.

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Add more butter to the pan until the drumsticks are fully submerged. Bake in the oven for about 3 hours (but they can be left longer, this won’t hurt!).

Meanwhile, prepare the sauce. Melt the butter in a frying pan and add the olive oil. Gently fry the onions and garlic until soft (5-10 minutes), along with the chilli flakes. Add the red peppers and fry briefly. Add the tomato purée and cook out for a minute.

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Add the tomatoes and mixed herbs, and cook until the tomatoes start to break down (about 5 minutes). Now add the wine and cook on a medium-low heat for about 15 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. You can serve the sauce as is, but I puréed it using a hand blender because I didn’t bother peeling the tomatoes!

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Serve the chicken drumsticks with a generous amount of the sauce, along with some veggies (dressed with some of the butter from the chicken pan).

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The chicken will be lovely and soft and should come away from the bones with very little effort!

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