There are time things doesn't happen as they are planned. For me this always happens, especially when it comes to cooking on weekends. Once it is Friday I put my thinking cap on and start searching over the internet and listing down few new recipes to try over the weekend. But many times it has happened I plan for something and end up cooking something else. This Italian Potato and Chicken Bake happened on such a weekend.
We were not in a mood to have the regular meal on that day. My domestic help had taken off and I was totally focused on completing the household core. It was about lunch time and I started searching the freezer. Started putting ingredients on the counter. There was fresh basil and all I could think was something Italian. I really don't know whether any such combination exists in Italian cuisine or not. But the outcome was so delicious and one of the best I can say. We had this with some rustic bread and some pasta tossed in olive oil.
- 400 gms Chicken Breast , Cut into slightly bigger chunks
- 250 gms baby potatoes , cooked and peeled
- 3.5 + 1 tbsps All-purpose Flour
- Salt pepper and for Seasoning
- 2 Cloves garlic
- 2.5 tbsps Oilve Oil
- Red Chilli flakes (as per taste)
- Mozzarella cheese to top .
- Basil leaves for garnishing
For Marinara Sauce
- 6 - 7 Tomatoes (Reserve water after blanching) Medium Blanched
- 2 tbsps tomato paste
- 2 - 3 cloves Garlic
- 1 tbsp Olive oil
- to taste Salt
- pinch Sugar
- Handfull basil fresh leaves , chopped roughly
For Bechamel Sause
- 1 tbsp butter (I used Unsalted)
- 1 tbsp All purpose flour
- 1.5 cups milk
- 1/4 cups Parmesan Cheese
- Marinara Sauce : In a pan heat oil. Add chopped garlic. Followed by chopped blanched tomatoes, tomato paste, salt and sugar. Bring everything to a boil. Add reserved water if required to get the consistency. Stir in chopped basil leaves. Switch off the gas.
- Bechamel Sauce: In another pan add butter. Add few drops of olive oil. Stir in flour and mix continuously until the paste cooks and bubbles a bit. Take care not to burn. Add hot milk. Stir constantly and allow it to boil. ( try to avoid lumps by stirring constantly ).
- Switch off the gas. Stir in parmesan cheese. Keep aside the sauce.
- In a pan 1.5 tbsp of olive oil, Minced garlic, salt and pepper. Mix well. Add potatoes. toss well. Remove and Keep in a separate bowl. Then toss them with 1.5 tbsp of flour.
- In the same bowl add chicken cubes to the remaining marinade. Mix well. Toss the chicken cubes with remaining 1.5 tbsp flour. Keep aside.
- In a thick bottom pan add remaining oil (1 tbsp). When the pan is hot add the chicken cubes and toss in high heat for not more than 4 minutes. (We are going to bake it later, so it's ok if it is not cooked through)
- Once the chicken looks brown on outer side, remove and keep aside. Scrape any residue from the pan.( Don't ever through the roasted residue from the pan, it's the best part)
- In the same pan toss marinated potatoes. Fry on medium-high heat until they are roasted and golden brown. Remove from the pan and any of its residue. Keep aside.
- Pre-heat oven to 180 degree celsius.
- In a rectangular baking pan spread 1/4th of the Marinara sauce. Arrange roasted potatoes and chicken cubes in a layer. Sprinkle some chilli flakes(if using) and chopped fresh basil.
- Spread 1/2 of the remaining Marinara sauce and bechamel sauce.
- Layer with remaining potatoes and chicken, followed by leftover marinara sauce and bechamel sauce.
- Sprinkle some more chilli flakes and chopped basil. Top with shredded Mozzarella cheese.
- Cover the tray with an aluminium foil and bake for 10-12 minutes. Remove the cover and bake for 5-6 minutes more until the cheese melts.
- Serve warm with some toasted rustic bread and pasta.