This Sweet and Savoury Chicken Bake Is a Party for Your Mouth

This Sweet and Savoury Chicken Bake Is a Party for Your Mouth
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In particularly exciting news for foodies all over. We’ve been treated to a new cookbook obsession this July, and that obsession would be MEZCLA, by Ottolenghi protégé Ixta Belfrage. Featuring 100 recipes inspired by Italian, Brazilian and Mexican cuisines, MEZCLA (mix, mixture or blend in Spanish) offers a bold marriage of flavours in simple recipes that are perfect for any home chef. And to celebrate the book’s arrival, we’re sharing one of its tasty recipes: a guide to making chicken thigh bake with pineapple and ’nduja.

MEZCLA: Recipes to Excite by Ixta Belfrage. Ebury Press/Penguin, RRP: $55.00

If you haven’t yet been acquainted with Ixta Belfrage, in 2020 she co-authored the New York Times bestselling FLAVOUR with Yotam Ottolenghi and in 2021 was named one of the most influential women in food by Code Hospitality. So, you know her recipes (like this chicken bake) are worth your time and tastebuds.

Chicken, pineapple and ’nduja bake recipe

Ixta Belfrage's recipe for chicken thigh bake. Credit Stuart Simpson.
Ixta Belfrage’s recipe for chicken thigh bake. Credit Stuart Simpson.

On this recipe, Belfrage wrote in MEZCLA that:

“I love the combination of sweet and savoury (as you’ll probably have deduced if you’ve flicked through this book a few times), and there is no greater union than that of pork and pineapple. The pork here comes in the form of ’nduja, a spreadable chilli-spiked sausage from Calabria. Add chicken, pineapple, chipotle and tangerine to the mix and you’ve got yourself a party.”

Serves 4

What you’ll need for this chicken thigh bake recipe:

  • 4 skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs, at room temperature
  • 4 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed with the side of a knife
  • 1 medium onion, halved and very thinly sliced on a mandolin
  • 1⁄2 large, extra-ripe pineapple, peeled (300g)
  • 4 sweet tangerines (or 2 oranges), squeezed to get 100g juice (see notes)
  • 100g chicken bone broth, stock or water
  • 2 tablespoons double cream
  • 5g fresh coriander
  • 1 lime, cut into wedges

’Nduja and chipotle paste

  • 50g ’nduja paste/spread
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons tomato purée/paste
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon chipotle flakes
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon paprika
  • 3⁄4 teaspoon fine salt
  • about 20 twists of freshly ground
  • black pepper

Directions for making chicken thigh bake recipe:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C fan/200°C.
  2. Put all the ingredients for the paste into a large bowl and mix together. Add the chicken, garlic and three-quarters of the sliced onion and mix well so everything is coated evenly. Tip the onions and garlic into a 28cm ovenproof cast-iron skillet or similar-sized baking dish and spread out. Place the chicken thighs on top, skin side up and spaced apart.
  3. Cut the pineapple into 4 rounds, then cut each round into quarters, removing the hard core (you should have about 300g). Add the pineapple to the bowl with the remnants of the paste, mix to coat with whatever’s left there, then arrange the pineapple around the chicken.
  4. Pour the tangerine juice around the chicken (don’t get the skin wet), then bake for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and pour the stock or water into the pan around the chicken (again, don’t get the skin wet). Return to the oven for another 20–25 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through and the skin is browned and crispy. If you have a blowtorch, use it to char the pineapple a little.
  5. Drizzle the cream into the sauce. Toss the coriander and the remaining sliced onions together with a tiny bit of oil and salt and arrange on top. Serve from the pan, with the lime wedges alongside.

MEZCLA: Recipes to Excite by Ixta Belfrage is available to purchase now.

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