Baked Chicken with Eggplant, Zucchini and Tomato Ragout

by Kristin on September 2, 2009

Gordon Ramsay is a lot like Marmite — you either love him or you hate him. When I mentioned to a friend last week that I was making some of his recipes, her first response was that she can’t abide the man. I’ll admit that Matt and I did get briefly hooked on Hell’s Kitchen last summer halfway through the series, but in general I’m with my friend — he does seem unnecessarily mean and over the top to me (though I suppose that all makes for good reality TV). I’d have to agree with Tom Doorley when he says “there is more commendable zeal in Jamie [Oliver’s] little finger than in all of Gordon’s much larger frame.” All that being said, when Matt came home one day with a surprise present of the Gordon Ramsay’s Fast Food cookbook, I wasn’t about to turn it down.

Baked Chicken with Eggplant, Zucchini and Tomato Ragout
adapted from Gordon Ramsay’s Fast Food by Gordon Ramsay

Serves 8

Chicken breasts are quickly seared, then baked on top of Mediterranean vegetables for a great one-pot dish. For convenience, you can make the ragout well in advance, but for best results, bake the chicken breasts just before serving.

5 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra to oil the casserole dish
8 large skinless chicken breasts
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 large onion, roughly chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 medium eggplants, chopped
a handful of thyme sprigs (or 1 teaspoon dried)
a handful of rosemary sprigs (or 1 teaspoon dried)
4 small zucchini, chopped
1 glass of dry white wine
8 plum tomatoes, peeled, deseeded and chopped, or 1 x 14-oz (400‑g) can of chopped tomatoes
pasta, rice or crusty bread, to serve

Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C). Heat a large heavy-based frying pan and add 3 tablespoons of the olive oil. Season the chicken with salt and pepper.

Sear the chicken breasts in batches: cook skin-side down for 3 to 4 minutes, until golden brown, then turn over and cook the other side for 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a plate.

Add the remaining oil to the pan and tip in the onion, garlic, eggplant and a few thyme and rosemary sprigs (or the dried herbs). Cook for 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft and translucent and the eggplant are starting to soften. Season generously with salt and pepper.

Add the zucchini, then pour in the wine and simmer until it has reduced by half. In the meantime, put an oiled large roasting pan in the oven to warm up.

Stir the tomatoes through the vegetables, then tip everything into the roasting pan. Place the seared chicken breasts on top and scatter over some more herb sprigs. Bake in the oven for 5 to 10 minutes, depending on the thickness of the chicken, until firm and cooked through.

Rest for 5 minutes before serving on warm plates, either spooned on top of pasta or rice or with crusty bread on the side.

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