Breadcrumbed Tomatoes Baked in Cream with Fried Chicken
There are so many recipes I want to make from Claire Thomson's brilliant new book Tomato but this decadent dish of breadcrumbed tomatoes baked in cream with fried chicken, as if you could make it any better, heads the list.
Claire writes "If you are going to go to the trouble of flouring, egging and breadcrumbing an ingredient – or pane, to use the French term – I feel that you might as well get your hands really dirty and process a whole lot.
In this case that means the tomatoes and the chicken, then going one step further and drenching the tomatoes in cream and mustard and baking them as a gratin until bubbling and blistering to serve alongside the fried chicken. A green salad, dressed simply, or some boiled green beans, might be a good serving suggestion.
2 large, skinless chicken breasts, cut horizontally to about 2cm (3/4in) thick, or 4 boneless and skinless thighs
100ml (3½fl oz) double (heavy) cream
1 small garlic clove, finely chopped
3 thyme or rosemary sprigs, leaves picked and finely chopped
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
5 tablespoons plain (all-purpose) flour
300g (10½oz) panko breadcrumbs (or any other dried breadcrumbs)
500g (1lb 2oz) tomatoes, thickly sliced
6 tablespoons olive oil
30g (1oz) Parmesan, grated (shredded)
30g (1oz) butter
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 lemon, cut into wedges, to serve
1. Using a meat mallet or rolling pin, flatten the chicken breasts out between 2 sheets of baking paper until they are an even 5mm (1/4in) thick. Put to one side.
2. Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/400°F/Gas 6.
3. In a bowl or jug mix, together the cream, garlic, herbs and mustard and season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Put to one side.
4. Tip the flour into a wide, shallow bowl and the breadcrumbs into another. In a third bowl, beat the eggs with 2 tablespoons of water.
5. Season the tomatoes with salt and pepper, then dredge them in the flour, tapping off any excess. Dip them into the egg and then coat them in the breadcrumbs and put to one side.
6. Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper, then dredge them in the flour, tapping off any excess. Dip the floured chicken pieces in the egg and then coat them with the breadcrumbs. Transfer the pieces to a plate and refrigerate until you’re ready to cook.
7. Heat half the oil in a large frying pan over a high heat. Working in batches, fry the tomatoes for 1–2 minutes on each side, until golden all over. Slide the fried tomatoes out into a baking dish and pour over the cream mixture. Sprinkle with the Parmesan and bake the tomatoes for about 10–15 minutes, until golden and bubbling. Remove from the oven and keep warm.
8. While the tomato gratin is baking, heat the remaining oil and half the butter in a large frying pan over a high heat. When the mixture begins to bubble and foam, add the coated chicken pieces and cook them over a high–moderate heat for about 3 minutes on each side, until crisp and golden and cooked through. Take care not to let the butter burn. If it starts to look like it might, add more to the pan, which should help prevent it turning completely. Remove the pan from the heat and drain thechicken pieces on kitchen paper.
9. Serve the chicken pieces whole, or cut in half or into thick strips, with the tomato gratin alongside and lemon wedges for squeezing over.
What to drink: I always llke a sparkling wine with fried chicken so I'd be tempted by a crémant or an English sparkling wine, maybe. But with those creamy tomatoes a lightly oaked chardonnay such as a Chablis would be good too. Or a Gavi di Gavi
Extracted from TOMATO by Claire Thomson (Quadrille, £22) Photography: Sam Folan. For a couple of Claire's other recipes see Rosemary and Chilli Panisse, and Quinoa fritters with green goddess sauce.
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