Baked Parmesan Chicken with Eggplant Adaptation

adapted fromĀ 365 Ways To Cook Chicken: Simply The Best Chicken Recipes You'll Find Anywhere

Makes 9x13 inch pan

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 45 minutes

Cost: $5.50-6.50 with chicken, and--oh, look how much cheaper with eggplant; wow--$1.50 if you have a good friend; otherwise $3.50 or so during eggplant season)

(chicken: 4.00-5.00, butter: .20, Parmesan: .50, milk: .15, Swiss: .50, bread crumbs: .15)

4 large breasts chicken, cut into smaller strips (or, of course, strips of chicken)

3 Tbsp butter

salt and pepper

1/2 C grated Parmesan (Romano works too)

2 Tbsp flour

1 C milk

1/2 C shredded Swiss cheese (Swiss is awesome in this, but if you don't have it, you can use mozzarella to very good effect)

1/4 C bread crumbs

Note: Bread crumbs can be homemade by putting stale bread in the blender and pulsing until crumb-y. I used a combination of white and whole wheat because that's what I had around.

Preheat oven to 350.

In a large frying pan, melt butter over medium heat. Sprinkle salt and pepper over chicken. Add chicken to pan and cook, turning once the bottom side is golden brown. Cook until the other side is golden.

While the chicken is cooking, grease a 9x13 inch pan and sprinkle 1/4 C of the Parmesan cheese over it (I generally use a little less on the bottom--2-3 Tbsp--and then use a little more on top.)

When chicken is golden, set it on the Parmesan in the pan.

You should have some drippings left in your pan. If you don't, or if they're sparse, add 1-2 Tbsp more butter. Swirl that around. Whisk in flour and swirl around. Whisk in milk (I love a flat whisk here) and cook, stirring constantly, utnil smooth and thick. Remove from heat and stir in Swiss or mozzarella. Pour sauce over chicken.

Top chicken with remaining 1/4 C Parmesan cheese (or 5 Tbsp). Sprinkle with bread crumbs. Bake for 45 minutes or until chicken is done (if using small strips, it should be done sooner than this).

Eggplant Adaptation:

Slice 2-3 large or 4-5 medium eggplant. I slice them into quarter inch slices (you can't peel first if you wish, but I like the color so I don't, although the skin does get a bit skin-ny on the end pieces).

Now--and this is an important and fabulous tip from America's Test Kitchen--put them in a single layer on about 3 layers of paper towels in the microwave for 7-8 minutes. This is going to dehydrate them a bit. They'll come out looking a bit shriveled and sad. Do Not Despair. This is as it should be.

Eggplant tends to suck up a lot of moisture and this microwaving keeps them from being soggy after browning in the butter and then being baked for a time. Seriously, do it. Your eggplant will come out so much better in this dish.

Now proceed with the recipe as you would with the chicken. Brown them in the butter until both sides are golden. Slather them in sauce, then cheese. And bake.

As you can see from the picture up top, we baked ours right next to each other (here's to our marriage and to compromise), although if you're a vegetarian, I trust you'd want to use a different pan so the juices don't mingle.

We served ours on pasta mixed with a marinade sauce and a Caesar salad thereby.

Posted by The Tasty Cheapskate: