Yum. Yum. Yum.
The rub you make for this chicken has fennel seed, hot paprika, salt, smoked paprika, black pepper, garlic and olive oil. Basically, all good things. Alison says in the introduction that she smears this rub onto other meat too– pork chops, pork shoulders, chicken wings. I can see it working well on all of those things, and may try to do it myself.
The other different approach to this recipe is that you cook the chicken low and slow– a low temperature oven for a long time. This makes the chicken extra-moist and extra-juicy. It’s definitely an excellent way to do it if you’ve got the time.
You’ll see the roasted red peppers above, which I roasted for the last hour alongside the chicken, which I then tossed in the leftover juices and spices in the bottom of the sheet pan. Just like Alison told me to do. It was an excellent recommendation.
If you’re wondering if we enjoyed the chicken, I will answer the question with a fact: there was no chicken leftover. Not one shred. That tells you everything you need to know.
Stress levels were high, due to Andrew’s upcoming A-levels, which all kick off in a few short weeks, so I did the one thing I knew would help: make all of Andrew’s favourite foods.
Thus, we found ourselves on a recent night having fried chicken (yum), cowboy rice (yum), tenderstem broccoli (yum), with all of it finished off with a flourish featuring Ruby Tandoh’s chocolate cake (triple yum).
We didn’t have proper fried chicken in our house growing up on the East Coast of the U.S., though I’m sure that’s down to the fact that we didn’t live in the South (where it’s a mainstay) and/or the fact that my dad is not a huge fan of fried chicken. When we did have it, my mom made it using crushed up potato chips and then baking it in the oven, which is fried chicken of a sort, but not proper fried chicken.
This method is proper fried chicken, where I even got to use my candy thermometer to gauge the temperature of the oil (I’m always happy to dig out one of my gadgets to justify its existence). Samin also advises you to either cut a whole chicken into eight pieces or bone about 12 chicken things. I didn’t get to the butcher in time to do either of those things (though Samin says you should do this yourself), so I looked in vain at the supermarket for boned thighs before concluding that you eat fried chicken on the bone in the U.S. so we’ll do the same thing here.
The recipe also gives you an option to make a spicy oil and brush the chicken with it once it’s fried. The adults at the table did this, and while it was interesting, it didn’t make it demonstrably better– mainly because the fried chicken on its own was out-of-this-world delicious.
We even had some leftover, so I was able to enjoy some cold fried chicken (which is a delicacy in and of itself) the next day for lunch. Yum. Yum. Yum.
Did my stress relief strategy for my teenager work? Did it ever. Do I think I’ll be making a lot more fried chicken (and other foods) between now and the end of June? Indeed yes. But making Andrew’s favourite foods is playing to my strengths, so I’m happy to keep doing it. Whatever works.
Kirstin: Today was a snow day. We don’t have many of them in these parts, so I was particularly pleased to have planned ahead with food so we didn’t have to go out for the whole day. I say that, but Miles was the exception as he had a lovely time frolicking in the snow in our garden while we stayed in and watched The Crown.
I might also have mentioned before how much I like to cook recipes from Bon Appetit between cookbooks. And I have been obsessed with finding The Perfect Roast Chicken Recipe Ever for a while now. Many recipes have tried. Many recipes have failed. But this recipe might actually be The One. It’s not difficult, doesn’t use any mad ingredients and everyone loves the moist chicken at the end. The key to this recipe is planning ahead and taking the chicken out and salting it an hour before you plan to put it in the oven. It makes a huge difference to the moistness of the meat. A perfect end to a perfect wintry Sunday.
Ella: Well this is succulent and juicy!
Kirstin: I have to admit I made this a few weeks ago for just me and Miles.
Miles: I remember it!
Kirstin: And we’re having it with pitta bread. This is such a wonderful summer recipe. My picture does it no justice and that’s because it should be photographed outdoors in evening summer light. Nigella, I apologise profusely. But really the rolling pin to squash the chicken does not work at all. I had to use a mallet in the end.
Ella: I love it.
Kirstin: And I love it too. I haven’t done one of Nigella’s recipes where you stick everything into a freezer bag for a while for no good reason. Genius recipe. Also, I’ve just seen Call Me By Your Name, so the word succulent is taking on a whole different meaning because peaches.
Ella: I’m not sure I want to know.
Kirstin: It’s ok. There’s no way I can describe it to you. That said, I have loved this trilogy of films by Luca Guadagnino and in particular the way food is featured.
Kirstin: This doesn’t sound like much. You know, another traybake, another chicken recipe. But it is so much more than that. The potatoes and chicken are tossed and coated with an aromatic concoction of delicious spices before being roasted for an hour; it’s deceptively simple and yet everything about this recipe is perfect. Plus it worked. First time. Which is always a bonus. Miles told me that he loved my cooking as I put this on the table, so I’m going to thank Nigella for making one boy (and his mother) very happy. It tasted wonderful and will definitely, definitely, definitely be made again. Lots, I hope!
Also can I just say how I feel bad that Nigella’s books always come out in the autumn and I always end up taking pictures of her recipes in the dark. Because they deserve so much more. I’m going to have to make one of her cakes and take pictures of it in the daytime. I love a challenge!
I’ve got to say, this recipe reminds of the Jamie Oliver of old, back when he offered up delicious food, simply prepared.
To be brutally honest, it’s not as if he’s reinveted the wheel with this recipe, though. It’s just a classic traybake. But traybakes (also beloved by Nigella) are classic for a reason: delicious, easy and easy to change based on what ingredients you have to hand. I’ve definitely made variations of this many times before now.
In this particular recipe, it’s just chicken with garlic, rosemary and lemon: a classic combination that I’ve used, easily, a million times before. But that doesn’t make it less successful. If it’s worked before, it’ll work again. If people like it, who cares if it’s not terribly original?
However, I have to tell him that I completely ignored Jamie’s instruction to put the chicken on the oven rack just above the tray that has the potatoes in it. It seems as though Jamie has forgotten what it’s like to clean an oven rack with chicken fat all over it. (Spoiler alert: it’s a pain to get clean.) I know why he did it. He wanted the fat and juicy goodness from the chicken to drip onto the potatoes below. I get that, I just didn’t want to clean that. What I did instead was I got a baking wire rack that fit over the potato tray, put the chicken on the wire rack, and then put all of that in the oven. Cleaning a baking wire rack is about 1,000 times easier than cleaning an entire oven tray.
Finally, to give credit where credit is due, I picked up a top tip from Jamie in the car crashes that were “30-Minute Meals” and “15-Minute Meals”: using my food processor to slice up the potatoes. To be honest, I don’t think I ever used my food processor for slicing before those two books and now I use my food processor slicer all the time. (It’s also handy for when I’m making apple pie.)
Will we make this again? Obviously. A chicken tray bake was beloved by this family before and will be beloved in the future.
Kirstin: I have been stressing about this recipe all day after the previous epic failure of a recipe. Also because as we all know, spatchcocking chickens is not my thing. But the harissa in this recipe was calling me.
I made sure to buy a small chicken, so as to ensure it was all cooked through with the spatchcocking malarkey. But again. Jamie. 5 ingredients. So cheeky. You can slip the red wine vinegar in there under the radar, with no quantities, but it’s still an ingredient. So I swapped it for the mint, which should never have been there in the first place. Honestly! Mint with chicken! I wasn’t quite sure how much red vinegar to add so I kind of made a paste with it. He also wanted me to TEAR the peppers. I’m not sure why a knife couldn’t work and to be honest it didn’t add any flavour to the dish. But all things considered, I have to admit that this recipe worked. The peppers were good. The harissa was good. The chicken was all cooked through and very juicy. I might even be tempted to make this again!
I know, right?