Remember when I went to Cicero on my birthday to get pepperoni bread?
Ok, so technically they were out of pepperoni bread, so we got pizza and this amazing chicken dish:
Flash forward a few weeks to a discussion with the boyfriend about plans for his birthday, which is coming up on Monday, and he turned and said to me,
“You know what I’d like for my birthday? I’d like for you to make that chicken dish from Freddy’s.”
“Ok, no problem!” I said.
Errr…and then I thought about it. Not only did I not have the recipe– I didn’t even know what the dish was called!
But then I said to myself, “Megan, you’re not one to back down from a culinary challenge. Let’s do this.”
I still don’t know what it’s supposed to be named, so I’m calling it “Ciao! Que Pollo!”. It’s a working title.
Ciao! Que Pollo! —Makes 2 hefty servings
1 small eggplant, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch rounds
1 cup crushed tomatoes
bottled Italian herb seasoning (usually has oregano, marjoram, basil, sage, etc)
2 chicken breasts
8 garlic cloves
2 small heirloom tomatoes (or 1 large), sliced into rounds
3 oz fresh mozzarella, sliced
2 oz sliced provolone
1/4 cup fresh basil
Preheat oven to 350°
In a skillet, heat a small amount of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add eggplant slices and brown slightly on each side. Add crushed tomatoes and reduce heat to low. Sprinkle in some italian herbs (I probably used about 3/4 teaspoon). Make sure eggplant is coated in tomatoes and turn occasionally. Cook until eggplant is very soft, about 10 minutes.
While eggplant is cooking, add about 1/2-3/4 cup of oil to another skillet and heat over medium heat. (I used a combo of olive and vegetable, but whatever you have will work fine) Smash garlic with the flat side of your knife (or a hammer if you’re feeling aggressive) and peel. Add garlic to skillet, making sure it’s not bubbling too hard (you don’t want the garlic to burn- believe me.)
Butterfly chicken breasts. Lay chicken on a cutting board and while placing one hand on top of the chicken and pressing down lightly, slice horizontally to split chicken being careful not to cut through the other side. You should end up with a larger, thinner piece of chicken. Season chicken with salt, pepper and another light sprinkle of Italian herbs, then place in skillet seasoned side down. Brown lightly, then flip. It will probably be in the skillet for about 15 minutes.
Layer a few slices of eggplant with sauce on top of each piece of chicken, then layer on a few slices of tomato. Add a few slices of mozzarella and a slice of provolone. Stack basil leaves neatly on cutting board, then roll like a cigarette and slice crosswise. You’ll end up with little ribbons of basil (also called a chiffonade). Sprinkle most of the basil over the chicken. Add some of the cooked crushed tomato to the skillet around the chicken (just a few tablespoons).
If your skillet has a plastic handle, wrap it in tin foil and place the entire skillet in the oven. Let cook for about another 10 minutes so that the cheese begins to melt. Then turn the broiler on and (watch it carefully!) let the cheese brown slightly. Remove from oven, garnish with the remaining basil and plate chicken, spooning pan sauce over it.
It turned out perfectly, no joke. It even looked like Freddy’s! The boyfriend approved, saying that it was better than Freddy’s! Ok, so I think he was just sucking up (which I certainly appreciate) but it was really very good. It reminded me of a chicken/eggplant parmesan except lighter, with no breading and less heavy tomato.
It looks like a long recipe, but I promise it’s easy. Go for it. You’ll feel accomplished.
In the spirit of Freddy’s, I also attempted to make a much simpler variation of pepperoni bread. I used the same beer bread recipe that Madeline used a few days ago. I just added some slices of pepperoni and more Italian herbs to the dough and baked in a boule shape.
I’ll level with you- it tasted nothing like Freddy’s bread, but it was really good! The boyfriend thinks I should name it “Megan bread” and sell it. Next time, I’d add about twice as much pepperoni. Not bad for my first attempt at making bread from scratch, though!
Time to get dressed- I’m taking someone to dinner for his birthday!