You can make this dish with any kind of chicken, you can use leftovers from a roast chook, you can use breast (I personally, am not a fan of breast) bur I do love chicken thighs, or thigh fillet or even drumsticks. I prefer to cook my meat on the bone as I believe it gives fuller flavour and you are getting all that goodness into the dish (and into your belly!). I was never a big chicken lover to be honest until the last few years, and I think that is because I learnt how to cook it better – really just through trial and error.
The sauce is again, my own passata I make from scratch but you can use any of your preferred pasta sauces. I would encourage you to buy sugo or passata and add your own extras (e.g – garlic, red wine, herbs, onion, stock) whatever takes your fancy. Lets be honest, its all about zeeee sauce!!
2 cups of passata or pasta sauce
6-8 fresh cherry or grape tomatoes
1/2 bunch of fresh basil
3 knobs of bocconcini
1/2 cup of parmesan cheese (or tasty cheese, see what your budget allows)
1 brown onion finely diced
1 kg of chicken drumsticks (or if you are using meat off the bone, 500g of chicken meat)
1 chicken stock cube
1 cup of water
1 teaspoon of garlic
2 cups of penne pasta
Brown the chicken and onion in a large frypan. Add your tinned tomatoes, garlic, pasta sauce, chicken stock cube and your water. Cook on low for 2 hours. Longer if you can. The longer the better, keep in mind that the longer those chicken pieces are in there the bigger the flavour.
Cook your penne pasta until al dente (please PLEASE do not OVER COOK THE PASTA) and then drain well.
Add the penne pasta to the main dish and combine. Now pour the mixture into an oven proof dish and push the fresh tomatoes and break the bocconcini up into smaller knobs (I would say the size of a 5c coin) into pasta bake – try to get it as even as possible – its bloody awesome to bite into a forkful and get a lovely fresh half cooked cherry tomato burst in your mouth. Adds to the texture and flavour of the dish. The bocconcini will give it a lovely gooey mild cheese flavour.
Add a smattering of grated parmesan on the top, and then bake in the oven for 20 minutes on 200.
Before serving, break off the fresh basil and dot around the dish, and the rest of the parmesan cheese.