Chicken with pineapple and nduja
One of the most exciting cookbooks this year so far is Mezcla by Ixta Belfrage who worked with Yotam Ottolenghi for several years and shares his love of bold flavours. This is actually quite an easy recipe though nobody you cook it for will think that!
Ixta writes: 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.
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 (300g peeled weight)
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
Marinate the chicken in the ’nduja and chipotle paste up to 2 days ahead, but don’t mix in the onion and garlic until you’re ready to bake.
On the day
Preheat the oven to 180°C fan/200°C.
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.
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.
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.
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. It also goes really well with the brown butter cornbread below
Ixta recommends tangerines over oranges as she says they have a more complex, floral flavour, but feel free to use oranges if that’s easier (use fresh fruit, though, not juice from a bottle or carton). If your tangerines/oranges aren’t particularly sweet, you may want to add some maple syrup or honey – do this when you add the stock or water.
Brown butter curried cornbread
Cornbread is usually a supporting act, but this version is good enough to take centre stage at the dinner table and will probably end up being the dish around which you plan the meal. The corn that bejewels the surface is best just out of the oven when it’s a little crispy from the butter, and a little sticky from the maple syrup. That’s not to say you need to eat it all in one go; it will still be delicious the next day, heated up. To heat, either pan-fry, or place the slices on a tray in a cold oven, turn the temperature up to 150°C fan/170°C and warm for about 10 minutes. Serve with plenty of butter on the side.
140g unsalted butter, plus extra to serve 500g frozen corn kernels, defrosted and patted dry
150g Greek-style yoghurt
2 large eggs
1 Scotch bonnet chilli, finely chopped (optional, see notes)
1 spring onion, finely chopped
5g fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated
1½ teaspoons medium curry powder
1½ teaspoons finely grated lime zest
100g quick-cook polenta
80g plain flour
½ teaspoon fine salt
6 tablespoons maple syrup, plus extra to serve
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
flaked salt, to serve
Preheat the oven to 200°C fan/220°C. Grease and line a 20cm cake tin.
Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over a medium heat for 5–6 minutes, stirring often until the butter foams and then turns a deep golden-brown. Add the corn and bubble away for 4 minutes, stirring every so often. Remove from the heat and leave to cool for 10 minutes.
While the corn and butter mixture is cooling, put the yoghurt, eggs, Scotch bonnet, spring onion, ginger, curry powder, lime zest, polenta, flour, salt and 3 tablespoons of maple syrup into a food processor, but don’t blitz yet.
Once cool, set aside 140g of the corn and butter mixture in a small bowl to use later. Add the remaining corn and butter to the food processor, then add the baking powder and bicarbonate of soda. Pulse about 3–5 times, just until the mixture comes together. Don’t overmix, you want a textured batter with small chunks of corn, not a smooth batter.
Transfer the batter into the prepared tin, then spoon the reserved corn and butter evenly over the surface.
Bake for 20 minutes, then evenly drizzle over the remaining 3 tablespoons of maple syrup and bake for another 15–20 minutes, or until crisp and golden brown on top.
Leave to cool for 15 minutes. If you have a blowtorch, use it to char the corn in places. Drizzle over some more maple syrup (I like a lot!), sprinkle with flaked salt and serve with a slab of butter alongside.
Ixta uses a whole Scotch bonnet, and its flavour and heat is quite dominant. I love that, but you can of course add less, removing the pith and seeds, or just add a pinch of regular chilli flakes for milder heat.
Recipes extracted from Mezcla by Ixta Belfrage published by Ebury Press at £26. Photography by Yuki Sugiura
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