Parmesan crusted chicken with butternut and sage

Here’s another recipe for a really quick week night supper. When I started writing down the ingredients and instructions, I began to doubt the simplicity of this recipe, but having made it again tonight, I can say with conviction that it really is fast. It just requires some planning in terms of getting the ingredients- and if you know you’re going to make it during the week, be sure to fry up some bacon on Sunday for breakfast and reserve the fat. Olive oil works just as well, but the bacon lard adds something special!

Here’s what goes in:

1 x 500g pack of diced butternut

A little butter for roasting

4-6 chicken breast fillets

Bacon lard or olive oil for frying

1 egg

2 tablespoons of finely grated Parmesan cheese

Salt to season

3 tablespoons of breadcrumbs or rice crumbs

1 tablespoon of chicken seasoning

1 tablespoon of flour

A cup and a half of milk

Fresh sage leaves

How to do it:

Cut the butternut into very small cubes, season them with a little salt and roast them in the oven in butter until they have softened and turned golden brown around the edges. Turn them every now and then.

Cut the chicken fillets in half through the centre so that you get 2 thinner fillets. You can flatten them out even more using a meat mallet. Combine the breadcrumbs, chicken seasoning, grated parmesan and a bit of salt, so that you can coat the fillets in this mixture. Beat the egg and first dip the chicken breast in egg (or brush it on) before coating it with the seasoning. The easiest way to do this is to put the seasoning onto a small plate and then turn the chicken breast around in it until it’s well coated. In the meantime, place a skillet or large heavy based frying pan on the stove and heat up the bacon lard or oil. First, flash fry the sage leaves just to crisp them up a bit. Remove them and set them aside. Then fry each piece of chicken for a few minutes until just cooked. You don’t want to over cook chicken breast – it’s the most unforgiving cut and can be awfully dry when cooked for too long.

Once done, remove the chicken fillets from the pan and set them aside. Now you’re going to make a quick béchamel using the juices in the pan. Over very moderate heat, add the tablespoon of flour to the pan and mix vigorously until a paste forms. Then add the milk and keep mixing to ensure that lumps don’t form. (I find that a silicone coated whisk works very well for this).

Return the chicken to the pan and turn off the heat. Top this with the roasted butternut and sage leaves, and serve it immediately straight out of the pan! This dish goes well with gnocchi or a side of couscous or just a simple salad.

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