No more hunting for the perfect winter chicken bake, when you can sit back to and enjoy the tomato-ey deliciousness of Nadia Lim’s Italian Herb Chicken and Pumpkin Bake! See the review of my experience below.
Winter has definitely set in this year in New Zealand. While we are only officially a couple of weeks into the winter, we have already had a full week of our daily high not reaching double digits. With the cold weather comes new ways of cooking and baking. Generally for our household this means a lot of oven bakes, either chicken bakes or meatballs and slow cooker Tuesdays.
This week I decided to try out one of Nadia Lim’s chicken bakes that I found online. This is within one of her Nadia magazines (Mood Food, November-October 2014, I think…), but unfortunately I do not have the issue. If you want a winter warming dinner I would definitely suggest this chicken bake, mainly due to butternut pumpkin being the main vegetable within this dish. Pumpkin is one of my favourite winter vegetables and hopefully next year we will have more of a garden supply that lasts into winter. I love the sweet, melt in your mouth texture of butternut and always love cooking with it. Another benefit of pumpkin in cooking, is that it’s soft, permeable texture soaks up any infused-oil or gravy that develops during cooking. For this dish, the pumpkin, and the chicken both became infused with a lemon infused oil. The taste of lemon was very noticeable throughout the dish and did tend to dominate over the other Italian components that this dish was meant to be reflective of, so I would suggest cutting that back to zest of 1/2 a lemon.
I found this recipe almost identical to Chelsea Winter’s Italian Chicken Bake with Herb Vinaigrette which was a little bit disappointing. The ingredients are almost identical except for the pumpkin that is added to this recipe, while Chelsea’s recipe uses potatoes. I do realise that Italian means quintessential ingredients of tomato, olives, garlic, oregano, basil and mozzarella, but I still feel there is a bit more flexibility than I found between these two recipes. In comparison, I did prefer the use of mozzarella chunks in the Chelsea Winter recipe, and the exclusion of the lemon zest.
At the end of the day both recipes give you a delicious meal that you can sink your teeth into on a cold winters night. I do not mind cooking chicken bakes during the work week, mainly as you do get the chance to tidy up, or sit down in front of the television while it bakes. I do realise this doesn’t work for a lot of people. The recipe does require a bit of preparation to get everything into the baking dish. You have to brown the chicken, gather and chop your fresh herbs, grate the mozzarella (I had a mozzarella ball) and slice the pumpkin. This recipe does not specify how long the preparation part of the meal takes, but you are probably looking at 20-30 mins before getting it into the oven, and then you definitely are going to need to bake it for more than 8-10 minutes.
We used chicken drumsticks rather than thighs, and I only lightly seared the chicken in the fry pan. I prefer the oven to do most of the work. I also should have used a bigger dish. You need to use your biggest dish possible for this recipe. As I only lightly seared the chicken to give it a bit of a golden colour, the chicken was in the oven for near to an hour, which is expected for any other chicken bake I have ever cooked. I did enjoy layering all of the ingredients into the baking dish, and actually really enjoyed using the two cans of cherry tomatoes, which I have never used in cooking before. When you add the tomato cans in, it just looks like a mess of sauce and cherry tomatoes, but as it bakes the sauce percolates down to the bottom of the pan and seeps into the pumpkin and onions and you can see the cherry tomatoes looking deliciously cooked and wrinkled on the top of the dish.
I used green olives in this recipe, as we did not have an open jar of kalamata olives. I don’t think this impacted the taste of the dish, but the green olives definitely have a more subtle taste than kalamata olives. Overall this chicken bake was delicious, but I did have to change around a lot of the recipe which was a surprise. Generally Nadia Lim recipes are really reliable if you follow the steps. I do not know whether this recipe did not suit my style of cooking, but if I was to do it again I would be changing some of the amounts of ingredients (less lemon zest, more mozzarella) and changing the cooking times. So keep this in mind. I am also not sure if I would bother searing the chicken again, mainly out of laziness.
If you are new to chicken bakes I would suggest starting with some of the other recipes on my blog, and when you have cooked a few try this one out and see how you go. Good recipes to start your chicken bake journey would be:
- Chipotle Chicken Bake (created by alanna marise)
- Chicken, Pumpkin and Chorizo Bake by Chelsea Winter
- Italian Chicken Bake with Herb Vinaigrette by Chelsea Winter
- Roasted Garlic, Lemon and Rosemary Drumsticks by Chelsea Winter
The recipe for this meal can be found on the Nadia Lim website here.
Have you tried this out and was this review helpful? Be sure to tag me in any and all Instagram posts if you give this a go! (@lana_holla and #alannamarise) I would love to see how yours turns out!
Disclaimer: When I review recipes on my site that are not mine I always link through to an online version of the recipe, as it is not mine to claim originality or credit for. I also do not believe that changing one ingredient, or one measure of an ingredient makes it your recipe.