Let’s face it, you’re a busy working mum – regardless of gender. You have a partner and a house full of offspring, you’re the parent of fur-babies, or you are the urban professional singleton with a lot going on. Your week is hectic trying to fit in work, gym, housework, wine time with your mates, family obligations and generally functioning as a human being. And as much as you love having people around your table to share a meal you have prepared, sometimes it’s the last thing you need on your one night free when really all you want to do is sit on the couch, binge watch old episodes of ‘Will & Grace’ in your loosest fitting clothes and drink Prosecco straight from the bottle. Well, I can tell you, this crowd pleasing feed-an-army recipe is almost as effortless as pouring yourself another glass of wine. I think we all have room in our lives for a recipe like that.
Whether people are coming around for a midweek dinner or a weekend lunch, I almost always turn to this recipe. And it makes sense: tray-bakes are not so much cooking as they are throwing ingredients into a pan, tossing them in oil and spices, and whacking them in the oven for a good hour. As for plating up, dress some salad leaves in whatever you have patience for and put both the salad and tray-bake on the table with multiple tongs and serving spoons, and let everyone serve themselves. Done. We love eating this way when friends come over as it is the very essence of what sharing food and sharing good company is all about, not slaving away in a kitchen for hours trying to out-Heston yourself. Entertaining should be casual, relaxed and…entertaining, for the host too.
I have been converted to the simplicity of tray-bakes for dinner parties since my sister-in-law first made this particular recipe for us one night, so don’t be surprised when you see more tray-bake recipes on my blog in the future. In fact, a risotto stuffed tomato and a Maltese style chicken or lamb tray bake are two of the other dishes that are very regularly created in my oven and are already earmarked for future posts – the tomato traybake can be served vegetarian (so long as your vegetarian friends don’t mind a little pecorino cheese) or can be porked up with Italian sausages. The convenience of tray-bakes is not just the simplicity of a meal-in-a-tray or that you end up with only a couple of trays and a salad bowl to wash up, it is also the fact that you can prepare this hours ahead of time, wrap in cling wrap or foil and keep it in the fridge until you are ready to bake; doing so often means the protein has more time to infuse the flavour and fragrance of the spices and seasoning making for a delicious roast later on. Just bring the trays out of the fridge half an hour before you are ready to bake to bring to room temperature and away you go.
This tray-bake, however, is Nigella Lawson‘s, straight from her book Nigella Kitchen. Nigella is not called the Domestic Goddess for nothing, she has many recipes for different tray-bakes for easy and satisfying entertaining that are worth trying out, but this has become a household favourite. The original recipe can be found on her website but the recipe below is written the way I make it. One adjustment I have made is the addition of smoked Spanish Paprika which just gives the chicken some extra warmth. Nigella also specifies to use chicken thighs with the bone and skin still on, and while I agree that it is totally necessary to use chicken pieces with the bone and skin on to keep the chicken moist and to absorb the flavours of the chorizo and herbs, I prefer to buy a couple of packets of mixed portions so your guests can choose between a medley of wings, breasts, legs and thighs (sounds racier than I intend); my sister-in-law often uses just drumsticks.
While the original recipe caters for 6, I find the best rule of thumb is adjust the recipe based on the number of people around your table – I have made this for 8 – 10 people as many times as I can remember making it for 4 – 6. The following is a good guide:
- 2 decent sized chicken portions per person + a few extra pieces in case some are particularly hungry or if you want leftovers (more on that later)
- 3 – 4 baby chat potatoes or one large potato per person
- 1 chorizo (approx 15cm) between two people + one ‘for the pan’
- Make sure you have enough space on your tray that you don’t end up ‘stewing’ your bake in juices. If you are making this for 10 – 12 people, you might want 3 trays going in your oven if your oven can handle it
The photographs on this post show the recipe made for 4 people – with a little left over.
Leftovers the next day are good chopped up, mixed together with some fresh parsley and a diced fresh tomato, quickly panfried to heat through in an ovenproof pan – pour over four or so beaten eggs (or enough to cover the chopped chicken and veg in the frypan) and pop in a moderate oven until the eggs firm up and turn golden on top: leftover Spanish chicken and chorizo tortilla. Boom.
This is one of those dishes we love to eat regularly. Word of advice – be generous with the chorizo because that’s what everyone ends up picking at!
SPANISH CHICKEN, CHORIZO AND POTATO TRAY BAKE
- 12 chicken portions, skin on, bone in (you could use a whole chicken, jointed) (see note above re adding extra pieces if you think you need)
- 4 chorizo, cut into 2 – 3cm pieces
- 18 baby chat potatoes, halved, or 5 large potatoes, quartered – unpeeled
- 6 cloves garlic, unpeeled, bruised
- 2 red onions, peeled, roughly chopped
- 1 teaspoon Spanish smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- zest from one orange
- 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- A handful of fresh flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped
- Preheat oven to 200C (fan forced)
- Put a tablespoon of oil in two shallow roasting tins or trays. You need a tray with a bit of a lip as the chicken and chorizo can give off a bit of juice.
- Divide the chicken pieces between the two trays then rub the skin side of the chicken in the oil to coat evenly.
- Divide the potatoes, chorizo, onions and garlic between the two trays and toss together with the chicken a few times. Evenly distribute the chicken, chorizo, potatoes and garlic across the trays ensuring the chicken is well-spaced and skin-side up.
- Grate the orange zest over the trays, then sprinkle with paprika and oregano. If you are preparing this in advance, cover with foil or cling wrap and place in the oven. Remove the trays from the fridge half an hour before baking to bring to room temperature.
- Roast in the oven for 30 minutes then baste the potatoes, chorizo and chicken with the juices in the pan. Swap the top tray with the bottom tray in the oven and bake and extra 30 minutes or until the chicken juices run clear when poked with a skewer and the potatoes and chicken appear golden.
- Sprinkle over with chopped parsley and serve straight on the table, in the pans, with enough tongs for people to help themselves, and salad leaves dressed with extra virgin olive oil, white wine vinegar or lemon juice, salt and pepper.