From time to time Michael can be subject to some digestive discomfort, so we’re eliminating potential trigger foods to see if we can isolate the cause. For the past few weeks anything containing milk has been on the no-go list.
Removing dairy from our meals has been an interesting challenge to say the least. It’s only when you can’t eat something that you realise just how many foods it pops up in – a lot of which you would never expect to contain milk. Beef-flavoured crisps, for example. If nothing else it’s given both of us a much greater appreciation of how hard it can be for people with serious allergies.
It’s also made us try some of the increasingly available dairy-free products that have appeared in supermarkets in recent years. We’re both big lovers of cheese, so if it turns out that dairy is a trigger food for Michael then that may well be the biggest challenge in the future. Luckily for the current experimental period vegan cheeses have had something of an explosion in recent years…
This idea for making Hasselback Chicken has been on the back-burner for a while. I love Hasselback Potatoes – serving them whenever I can. I also love stuffing chicken breasts with various ingredients, as you may have noticed from some previous posts. Combining the two techniques, as I’ve done here, was an almost obvious end point.
The Hasselback Chicken itself was a delight. I stuffed it with chorizo, peppers and mushrooms, which let’s face it are a pretty classic flavour combination. My one concern was that it might be a little dry without a sauce. Ordinarily I’d have either reached for the Boursin, as in my Lazy Garlic Chicken. Or Goats’ Cheese – yep, I have a recipe for that too. As both were out of bounds I thought I’d see if a dairy-free “cheese” alternative might work instead…
Here I used a coconut oil-based goats’ cheese substitute that we bought from Tesco. In its raw form it was perfectly pleasant flavour-wise, but had a slightly odd, almost powdery texture. If you can’t have dairy it certainly wasn’t an unpleasant option. Due to its texture I wasn’t sure whether it would separate when heated, so I made sure to add it to the sauce after removing it from the heat.
It went well and the sauce held together nicely in the end. It had an almost creamy consistency and a savoury flavour – though I’m not quite sure I’d call it cheesy. If anything it was like it was trying too hard and ended up being a bit artificial. That being said for a first try I’m certainly not complaining.
Hasselback Chicken with Dairy-Free Cheese Sauce
For the Chicken
- ½ tsp Garlic Powder
- ½ tsp Onion Granules
- ½ tsp Sea Salt Flakes
- ½ tsp Freshly Ground Black Pepper
- 1 tsp Dried Mixed Herbs
- 2 Skinless and Boneless Chicken Breast Fillets
- 6 slices Chorizo cut into half moons
- 1 large Tomato seeds removed and thinly sliced
- 3 Mushrooms thinly sliced
For the Sauce
- 1 tsp Olive Oil
- ½ Red Onion peeled and finely chopped
- 100 ml Good Quality Chicken Stock
- ½ tsp Freshly Ground Black Pepper
- 150 g Dairy-Free Alternative to Goats’ Cheese see note
- 2 tbsp Fresh Parsley finely chopped
- Pre-heat the oven to 180°C
- Mix together the garlic powder, onion granules, sea salt, black pepper and mixed herbs. Rub over the chicken breasts until well coated.
- Make 6 deep cuts into each Chicken Breast, making sure to not cut the whole way through. Put a piece of chorizo, mushroom and tomato into each cut. Transfer to an oven-proof dish then bake in the oven for 25 minutes until cooked through.
- Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a frying pan. Add the onion and fry for 5-10 minutes until starting to soften and turn translucent.
- Pour in the chicken stock then bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat then stir in the black pepper, followed by the goats’ cheese alternative and chopped parsley. Keep warm until the chicken is cooked.
- Spoon some of the sauce onto two plates and top each with a cooked chicken breast. Serve the additional sauce on the side.