First off, I have to tell you that we are finally here: we moved out of Chorlton in Manchester and into our rented place in the village of Hope, Derbyshire just over a week ago. We still haven’t completed on the farm (and it looks like it will take further still due to complications), but we are pretty confident it should all go through fine, it’ll just be a little bit longer than anticipated. The move was hellish, natch. My first week was mainly highs and a couple of lows (one tiny freak out that only lasted an hour and easily remedied by a glass of wine and a sensible talking to from Adam). Otherwise it’s been alarmingly successful. The best thing about the village is how insanely friendly everyone is, particularly the local mums. On our first day I met a lovely mum in the pub who told me about the village mums’ group, which I went to the following day. They have a wonderful support network in the Hope Valley, with baby groups every day in the surrounding villages and an amazing group on Facebook that is proving to be very handy indeed. Bit blown away with it really. It’s a refreshing example of how ace womenfolk are when we want to be!
This recipe is one of the easiest I have ever featured. If tipping some chicken thighs and a few veggies (most not even cut up) into a roasting pan then sloshing some dried herbs and oil on is your ideal type of cooking then you’re in luck. And it’s really very good too; the meat and veg are perfectly cooked in an hour, and the juices with the balsamic, oil and lemon create a delicious sauce. Tray bakes are the ultimate when it comes to creating something pretty decent without as much as a stress induced twitch of the eyeball. (If you’re a regular reader you’ll know that recent attempts at cooking quite involved dinners have resulted in screaming, crying, sweating – and that was just me! The kids, understandably, hate that I am too busy cooking to play/cuddle/carry them – hence I’ve firmly resolved to make life easier for myself and either cook something easy at dinnertime or cook dinner at lunchtime, if you know what I mean.)
The key to this tray bake is that the thighs and baby pots take the same time to cook. So, with those as your base, feel free to switch the ingredients and overall vibe up. Next time I might go Spanish: chicken thighs and baby pots with chorizo and some spring greens thrown in at the end, with some cumin and paprika as flavours, and replacing the balsamic with Jerez vinegar at the end. Leave a comment if you try this or have another idea for a tray bake, I really think they are the way forward and could do with some more inspiration! Until next time…
To make a meal for 3/4 people (perfect for 2 adults and 2 kids:
6 free-range or organic chicken thighs
1kg baby pots (I did have some left over but they are great re-fried up next day with a fried egg)
1 lemon, cut into 4 chunks – juice squeezed in too
125g spring onions
3 peppers (I used red and green), chunkily sliced up
whole head of garlic, cloves tossed in unpeeled
handful of green olives
2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon of dried oregano
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
- Preheat oven to 200C.
- Tip pots, spring onions, peppers, cloves of garlic, olives and lemon (squeezing as you do) into a large roasting tin or similar. Place chicken on top. Slosh oil on, dried herbs too. Season well. Roast at this heat for 15 mins.
- Turn down heat to 180C. Give the pan contents a little shake.
- Continue to cook for another 45 minutes. For the last 10 minutes, add the balsamic and toss to coat. To check the chicken, simply cut into a thigh to see if it’s cooked through; it should be perfect, as should the potatoes. Simples!