Although I love to potter about in the kitchen when I’ve nothing else pressing to do, there are times when I just want something really easy to throw in the oven while I get on with other things.
We can’t buy skin-on chicken joints here – absolutely everything is stripped naked of its flesh and fat, which is pretty inconvenient at times. Lately, I’ve just resorted to buying a whole chicken, jointing it myself and putting what I don’t need for today in the freezer for another time. It also means I get the carcass to make stock AND it’s a great deal cheaper than buying the joints separately. You can use whatever joints you like – if you don’t want to eat the skin, I would recommend removing it after cooking, as it helps to stop the chicken drying out.
If you want to have a go at jointing your own chicken, but you are not sure how, have a look at this video from the Good Housekeeping Institute. You get quite adept after a couple of goes, though if you are as cack-handed as me, you might need to stock up on plasters… Otherwise, just ask your butcher to do it for you or buy individual joints.
This recipe is one I fall back on time and again. It’s great made with lamb chops or chunky sausages instead of the chicken, though they would only need the same cooking time as the the veg, so skip the head-start bit and put everything in at the same time. You can vary the vegetables – courgettes, aubergines, pumpkin, carrots and parsnips all work well – and you can change the chilli element and vary the herbs according to which meat you are using. I think the tomatoes are essential though, as they create lovely juices. Rosemary would go well with lamb, and I would probably chop a few anchovies into that mix as well. Sage and thyme would be good with sausages, or you could go Iberian and use Chorizo for an extra spicy hit. I also often add a handful of black olives about 10 minutes before the cooking time is up, but I forgot on this occasion.
Now I have a confession.
We were so keen to eat this that I forgot to photograph it when it came out of the oven, but you can use your imagination, or just try it for yourself, then you’ll see.
Here’s the recipe:
All-in-one chicken chilli traybake
Serves 2, easily doubled
4 skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs or 2 breasts (if using breasts, cut each breast in half)
Leaves from 6 sprigs fresh thyme (or a heaped teaspoon dried thyme or oregano)
½ – 1 teaspoon chilli flakes (I used chipotles for a smoky flavour)
Salt & freshly ground black pepper
Potatoes, cut into chunks – however many you will eat
1 large red pepper, cut into large chunks1 red onion, peeled and cut into 8 wedges
8 small (not cherry sized) tomatoes, halved
6 cloves garlic, peeled and halved
Balsamic vinegar to serve
Preheat the oven to 190°.
I lined my roasting tray with baking paper, but if you like your veggies well caramelised, just put everything straight on to the tray. It does create a bit of washing up job though.
Pur the chicken on a shallow roasting tray large enough to take the chicken and all the veggies in a single layer (see pic).
Drizzle some olive oil over the chicken, then sprinkle with some of the chilli flakes and thyme/oregano and some salt and pepper. Put into the pre-heated oven for about ten minutes or so while you prepare the veg.
Put the potato chunks into a large-ish pan, bring to the boil, then simmer for about six minutes and drain. Tip the chopped vegetables and the garlic into the pan with the potatoes, add the rest of the herbs/chilli, drizzle with plenty of olive oil and give it all a good mix.
Remove the chicken from the oven, tip the vegetables onto the tray and spread out into a single layer. Return the tray to the oven for a further 35 minutes or until the vegetables are brown and caramelised and the chicken is golden and cooked through.
Serve with a green salad and plenty of crusty bread for mopping up the juices. A splash of balsamic vinegar is a good addition.