Cookbook Recipe

Chelsea Winter’s Italian Chicken Bake with Herb Vinaigrette

In just a few words, melt in your mouth! The mozzarella, the tender succulent chicken and soft potatoes really brings this dish to life. This dish was divine, which had a lot to do with the mozzarella. To be honest this is the first recipe I have ever cooked using a ball of mozzarella. I have used pre-grated mozzarella before but never from a ball of mozzarella. Having the gooey dollops of this cheese throughout the dish really makes you want to sink into a comfy chair with a good glass of white wine and slowly savour every bite of this delicious meal.

It is always nice when you have a recipe that turns out exactly how it looks in the cookbook. This recipe by Chelsea Winter in Homemade Happiness does exactly that! Not only was the recipe easy to cook and follow, it turned out delicious and is a great fulfilling meal to have with a glass of white wine on a Sunday night. The only real tricky part of this recipe is frying the chicken pieces in the pan and making sure you golden them instead of char. We actually used drumsticks instead of thighs as this is what we had available in the freezer. Do make sure when you fry the chicken that it is over a high heat as specified in her recipe, and that you use a non stick frypan (otherwise the clean up will ruin this dish for you). Chelsea specifies in her recipe to coat the chicken in oil (after patting the meat dry with a paper towel), please do this as it can help reduce smoke when the oil/chicken hits the pan. Not sure what the science is behind this but it really does make a difference. The use of chicken drumsticks probably made eating this meal a lot messier, so unless this will make your kids excited about their dinner, going for chicken thighs is probably a smarter idea.

For the vinaigrette we just mixed this with a fork and I didn’t even really cut the herbs into small pieces as explained in the recipe. The vinaigrette flavours still came out amazing, but please if you have the technology to blitz the vinaigrette it will enhance the flavour of this aspect of the dish.

The only drawback to this recipe is cost. Fresh mozzarella is expensive, very expensive in New Zealand in particular. If you don’t have a herb garden and want to use fresh herbs, they are also expensive for what you get in terms of volume. Also, this recipe uses some condiments that not everyone will have in their pantry. While both my partner and I like olives, we did have to go out and buy a jar of them for this recipe. For this reason, we did not include any of the ‘to serve’ ingredients as the cost was getting a bit steep. This recipe is probably most suitable for those that have a well developed herb garden. not only do the herbs add a lot to the dish, having them easily accessible for free will bring the costs down.

See recipe here.

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