One of my favourite things about travel is discovering new food! For me new food includes new ingredients, new recipes, new flavours, new ways of cooking and even new ways of using familiar ingredients. Food is probably one of the best ways to experience a city, don’t you think? It really helps you understand what the locals like, helps you learn about the history, helps you connect with the people and makes the experience so much more enriching…and delicious 🙂
My friend S and I were in Italy last year. We spent about 9 days exploring Florence, Rome and parts of Tuscany. Along with visiting many museums and churches, we also pretty much ate and drank our way through these places. Every meal was accompanied by some house wine 🙂 Italy gave me the opportunity to try so many kinds of food and so many ways to use ingredients that I left feeling immensely inspired. Along with all the delicious meat, one of my other favourites was pecorino! I’ve had pecorino before, but always in a mixture or a sauce and never just as is. What a cheese! Sharp, peppery and delicious! I brought some back and the husband and I kept nibbling on it everyday. So when my friend T went to Italy this year, I asked her to bring back wine (obviously) and some pecorino.
Apart from nibbling it everyday, I figured I must also cook with it, right? 🙂 I am a big fan of baked/grilled chicken and make some form of it every week (like this recipe). I’ve made crumbed chicken before and think it is super easy and delicious. I swapped out the regular cheese for pecorino, added some other fun herbs and voila! Pecorino crumbed chicken!
The crumb is extremely easy to make and the chicken just takes 25-30 minutes to cook. So easy! Best thing for a midweek dinner, don’t you think?
I topped it up with a super easy chunky tomato sauce, inspired by traditional pasta sauces. I just felt that the chicken needed something to add moisture and increase the yum factor a little more!
It is good to have all the chicken breasts of even thickness as far as possible, to help them cook evenly. I sliced the thicker ones in half, but you could also flatten them using a mallet/rolling pin. Once cooked, the crumbs will be nice and brown and the chicken will be juicy and tender. Perfetto! 🙂
Try this and let a little bit of my version of Italy become a part of your dinner 🙂
Pecorino Crumbed Chicken with a Chunky Tomato Sauce
500g chicken breasts
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 cup grated pecorino cheese
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 tbsp melted butter
1/2 tsp olive oil
4 medium tomatoes – chopped into even chunks
3 cloves of garlic – chopped fine
1 onion – chopped fine
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp pepper
1.5 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried basil
1/4 cup white wine (I used Sauvignon Blanc)
1/2 tsp chilli powder
salt to taste
- Pre heat the oven to 175C and line a baking tray with parchment.
- Wash and dry the chicken breasts. Try to get them to even thickness, by slicing the through the middle or using a rolling pin to flatten them.
- Add 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper to the chicken and mix well.
- In a bowl, prepare the crumb. Mix the breadcrumbs, pecorino, melted butter, olive oil, salt, pepper and oregano till it comes together like a slightly moist, sandy mixture.
- Going piece by piece, press the chicken breast into the crumb and ensure it gets coated well on both sides. Shake of the excess and place on the baking tray.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes, till the crumb becomes brown and chicken juices run clear. Flip half way through to ensure even cooking on both sides.
- While the chicken is cooking, get started on the sauce by heating oil in a pan. Add garlic and onions and let them cook for 5 mins till slightly golden brown.
- Add the tomatoes and salt and cook till the tomatoes become soft and the mixture starts to release oil from the sides.
- Add the pepper, oregano, basil and chilli powder and cook for another 5 minutes.
- Pour in the wine, mix well and cook for another 5 minutes. Check for salt and chilli, adjust as required. Let the sauce cook for another 10 minutes and turn off the heat.
- Once the chicken is done, put the pieces on a plate and ladle 5 tbsp of the sauce over each piece. It is now ready to eat 🙂