Portobello Florentine – A green twist on the classic Chicken Parmigiana
April showers, April showers – as William Bryant said, ” there is no fragrance in April breezes till breathed with joy as they wander by”. I believe what the romantic poet meant by “fragrance in April” is the sweet smell of rain, wet grass and Spring breeze. But today I present to you another kind of fragrance – one as satisfying as the sweet smell of wet rain and as crisp as the freshness of la primavera - Portobello Florentine!
This is a winner, it’s fresh, light and delectable. The Portobello Florentine is my latest remake of the classic Italian dish, Chicken Parmigiana. A longtime fan of Italian cuisine, my love for Chicken Parmigiana is beyond profound, but as Spring draws nigh, I find the dish a bit too heavy. On that account, I decided to give it a green twist with spinach and portobello mushrooms – but still preserve the key ingredients of il piatto originale.
Here’s what you need:
- -Chicken fillet – breast or drumstick depending on your personal liking
- -2 pieces of champignon portobello mushrooms
- -1 garlic, chopped
- -handfuls of baby spinach
- -handfuls of grated Parmigiano
- -a few teaspoons of tomato pesto
- -classic olive oil – I used extra virgin since I ran out of the classic kind, which was a massive mistake since extra -virgin olive oil is never meant to be cooked (fail!)
- -salt and pepper
- -red chili flakes (optional)
- -dust of cornstarch
- -Focaccia bread – I cheated and used plain bread since the bakery I usually go to ran out of Focaccia (fail! x2)
- 1. Mince chicken with knife or just get ready-minced chicken from the grocery.
- 2. Season with pesto, sea salt and pepper, and let it sit for a while.
- 3. While the chicken is marinating, remove stems of champignon portobello and cut one into slices of around 1 centimetres width. Leave the other intact.
- 4. Spread the minced chicken evenly on the whole mushroom, and make sure that the layer isn’t too thick. Sprinkle some cornstarch if necessary for extra adhesion.
- 5. Drizzle olive oil on a medium-heat pan and lightly stir-fry the chopped garlic and sliced mushroom. Make sure the pan isn’t too hot when you cook the garlic – they burn easily and taste bitter when charred. Stir-fry until the mushroom start to soften, or when you see water start to escape them.
- 6. As the mushroom soften, add in spinach and continue to stir-fry, lowering the heat if necessary.
- 7. Stir-fry until the spinach reduces to half its original size, tossing your pan occasionally to prevent your ingredients from being burnt.
- 8. Preheat your oven (or in this case, mini-oven, for less fuss) to around 160 to 170 degree Celsius. Top tip: lower temperatures for smaller ovens and higher temperatures for larger ones.
- 9. Remove spinach and mushroom from pan and place the whole mushroom with minced chicken onto the pan – chicken side facing down. Add an extra drizzle of oil if necessary to prevent the chicken from sticking.
- 10. Leave chicken side facing down for around 50 seconds before flipping it over. Flipping it too early will either result in chicken being stuck on the pan or the whole thing disintegrating.
- 11. Pan fry the other side for another 30-50 seconds, flipping from time-to-time and pressing with a spatula. The pressing will force the juices in the mushroom to fuse into the chicken patty, making it more juicy.
- 12. When you think it’s ready, turn off the fire and let it sit on the spatula for a while. This will help cool your gastronomic creation and retain moisture.
- 13. Carefully place the mushroom onto an oven-safe dish and top with the stir-fried spinach greens.
- 14. Top spinach greens with grated Parmigiano. This is the fun part – you can put as much as you like!
- 15. Place your dish into the oven – I know it’s hard, but do resist the temptation to pick up the tiny strands of cheese and eating them before your dish is ready.
- 16. Into the burning furnace of gastronomic goodness it goes! Leave your creation in the oven for around 5 to 10 minutes, depending on your oven.
- 17. What you want is melted cheese with slight burns in the peaks and sides. Let it cool for a minute or two before serving – for, yes, retaining the moisture.
- 18. Serve with another dash of sea salt and pepper. For and extra sting, add also a dash of dried chili flakes.
- 19. Voilà and congratulations! You have successfully created your very first Portobello Florentine. You can eat this with bread and oil, or on its own. Now is time to take the first bite – see the cheese ooze?