Saturday, 10 August 2013

N'duja Chicken

           I often compare my love affair with food to a happy relationship, you love it you have nothing to complain about but sometimes you can find yourself in a bit of a routine. 
I sometimes find myself using the same ingredients and cooking the same meals from week to week, this is when food stops being enjoyable and becomes a chore. When I feel like I am stuck in a rut, the best thing to do is break out, buy a completely new ingredient to you and experiment, if it doesn't work out WHO CARES, at least you have had a go. I have spoken before about shopping blind, this means forgetting the dreaded shopping lists, don't even look for what is necessary but go to your local market, greengrocers or supermarket and see what is good, let the produce speak for itself, the beauty of shopping seasonally is that usually the produce usually compliment each other.
 My objective was to try a new product, something that can enhance the flavours of wonderfully ripe tomatoes, peppers, basil and then I saw it, N'duja, I had to have it.
 So here is the deal with this lovely salami/sausage, N'duja is an Italian spicy spreadable sausage from the southern Italian region of Calabria, laced with chilli peppers it packs a real piquant punch, just like cinderella's fairy god mother it can transform the mediocre to the sublime with ease. 
 Armed with my ingredients and feeling pretty optimistic about my culinary goodies I set to work, I have to say that I regularly try out new products that fill me with hope and deflate me quicker than a popped balloon, but this one my friends is worth talking about, hell if they made N'duja soap i'd wash with it, it is that fantastic. 
This is for a meal for two and should only be made when grovelling is required or your have seen a new bag that is completely out of your price range, this dish will break any man, cooks honour!

You will need:(for the chicken)
2 Large Chicken breasts with the skin on (you can either stuff the n'duja under the skin like I have or you can make a small pocket in the breast)
90g pack of Nduja (available at        good delis or waitrose)
2 teaspoons of olive oil
Maldon seasalt
Cracked black pepper

For the chunky pepper sauce:
1 very Large white onion sliced finely
1 red pepper sliced finely
1 yellow pepper sliced finely
1 orange pepper sliced finely
1 large red chilli sliced finely
3 tbsp of olive oil
1/2 tsp of smoked paprika piquante
4 tbsp of chopped garlic (not from a jar)
2 tbsp of freshly chopped oregano
3 tsp of maldon sea salt
2 tsp of sherry vinegar
8 cherry tomatoes (the sweeter the better)
1 tbsp of caster sugar
14 stoned black olives
a small bunch of basil

Firstly preheat the oven to 180 degrees c. 
 Stuff each chicken breast with a slice of the n'duja under the skin of the chicken (as shown in the image), drizzle with a teaspoon of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. If you have decided to stuff the cavity of the chicken with the sausage meat instead of the skin I suggest that you wrap the chicken in one piece of parma ham to stop the chicken from drying out. 
 Heat a cast iron grill pan or pan and seal the chicken on both sides until it is lightly browned, then transfer the chicken into the oven for 10-15 minutes depending on the size of the fillets, if you do not have a pan that can go into the oven then transfer the fillets onto a baking tray, just make sure you reserve the pan juices for later. 
Whilst the chicken is cooking you can prepare the sauce, begin by sweating the onion, peppers and chilli in the olive oil in a large saucepan, once the onions and peppers begin to soften and I mean really soften (this should take around fifteen minutes) then add the smoked paprika, oregano, garlic, sugar and salt. By this point your chicken should be cooked through, remove it from the oven and allow to rest on the baking tray.

 Add the sherry vinegar and tomatoes to the peppers and the cooking juices from the chicken, when the tomatoes have broken down into a mush then remove the sauce from the heat and add the olives and the basil.
Serve this chicken with a rocket salad or roasted new potatoes for a hearty side.

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