Italian chicken bake with herb vinaigrette
This is an extremely popular recipe from my third book, Homemade Happiness. You can either dress it up for a special occasion (using the fresh mozzarella, basil, Parmesan, balsamic and a fancy garlic bread) or just keep it basic for a cosy night in with the family. Either way it’s absolutely delicious. The slightly smushed potatoes do a nice job of soaking up the tomato juice and vinaigrette – it’s a dish loaded with flavour! I always try and use skin-on chicken as it tastes much better, but you can choose. When tomatoes are in season, cheap and very ripe, you can use them instead of or as well as the tinned. Serves 4.
8-10 chicken thighs, legs or drumsticks (preferably free-range)
600g floury potatoes, unpeeled and scrubbed
1 x 400g can whole (or cherry/baby) tomatoes, drained and halved
Handful cherry tomatoes
Handful chopped fresh or regular mozzarella (optional)
2 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
2 tbsp chopped fresh oregano or thyme
1 clove garlic, crushed
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp red or white wine vinegar
To serve (optional for a fancy treat)
Freshly grated Parmesan
Fresh basil leaves
Preheat oven to 210c fan bake.
Cut the potatoes into halves or quarters and place in a pot of cold salted water. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook until just underdone. Drain, then replace the pot back over a low heat for a few minutes to evaporate any excess moisture. Drizzle with a little olive oil to coat and season with salt and pepper. Lightly crush each piece with a fork to crumble it up just a little bit. Season with salt and pepper.
Coat chicken with a little olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
Heat a little oil in the frying pan over a high heat (if you have an ovenproof frying pan, use this. If not just use a standard frying pan and transfer everything to a casserole dish later.) When the pan is nice and hot, add the chicken pieces skin-side down and cook for about 5 minutes or until it’s crispy and golden. Turn over and cook for another few minutes. It doesn’t need to be cooked through – this will happen in the oven. The brown crust will add great flavour.
To make the herb vinaigrette, you can either combine all the ingredients using a mortar and pestle, mini-food processor, or just chop everything finely as possible and whisk to combine. Season with salt and pepper.
In either your ovenproof pan or a baking dish, arrange the tomatoes and potatoes around the chicken pieces. Drizzle with the vinaigrette all over. Bake uncovered in the oven for about 25 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and potatoes golden on top.
With around 10 minutes to go, scatter the mozzarella on top.
To serve, sprinkle with freshly grated Parmesan, basil and a splash of balsamic vinegar if you like. Serve with garlic bread and a fresh green salad.