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?
Kirstin: Melissa Clark is VERY keen on spatchcocking chickens. So this is not the first time I have been inspired to make one of her recipes with the exciting part of spatchcocking beforehand. I’m definitely getting better at the part where you remove the backbone of a chicken, put it that way. Also the squashing part. And, as Melissa says in her video for this recipe, it is SUCH a good word! SPATCHCOCK! I particularly love it when she has all her utensils out and ready to use in the video. She is brilliant.
(And another small digression: I didn’t have any of the ancho chile powder for this recipe, so I found some of the dried whole peppers and ground them down in my new grinder which was very exciting, as you can imagine!)
And now to the recipe itself. The spice combination itself smelled incredible as I put it on the chicken. It’s one of the Top Ten recipes made from the New York Times this week and I could see why as I rubbed the spices on. However. There is just something about me and these spatchcocked chicken recipes that I am not getting right. Is it the temperature of the oven? Is it the length of time to cook? There is something that I continue to get wrong every time. While the chicken was not pink, it was chewier than usual despite me effectively burning all the spices on the top and also leaving the chicken to rest for a full ten minutes, or in fact longer as Tom had to edit something which took longer than I had anticipated. And I note that she adds olive oil before she cooks hers on the video, but not in the recipe. Maybe that made a difference.
So, the question is would I make this again? No. Would I try spatchcocking a chicken for Melissa? Probably not. No, not even butterflying one. But I might try spatchcocking for someone else’s recipe to see if I could get it right. And yes, that might be just so I could use the word again!
Nicholas (14): We’ve had this before, haven’t we?
Maureen: Impressively remembered. Yes, we have. It was the Nigella Lawson version from “Simply Nigella” [Editor’s Note; I just went back to see if I blogged about it. Alas, I did not. But we do love it so.] That recipe was based on this version, which I’ve also made before. So I was hedging my bets because I already knew we all liked it.
Andrew (17): What is it?
Maureen: It’s chicken shawarma.
Tim: I remember now. We all liked it.
Maureen: Indeed we did. Which is why I’ve made it more than once. This is from the new cookbook.
Andrew: What’s the new cookbook?
Maureen: it’s not actually a cookbook. It’s the New York Times Cooking App.
Nicholas [Incredulously]: An app???
Maureen: Yes. We’re embracing the future. It’s going to be great. We have so many favourite recipes that come from the New York Times. We will eat well this month.
Tim: Maybe there will be too much choice, actually.
Maureen: That’s a real possibility. I fell down the rabbit hole of options when I was trying to figure out what we were going to have for dinner tonight. This wasn’t even what I intended to make. But I stumbled across it, knew we had it before and liked it, so thought we’d just have it again.
Andrew [As he quickly polishes off his second one]: It was a good choice. It’s delicious.
If you’d like to make this yourself, here’s a link to the original recipe in the New York Times.
Kirstin: I’ve been looking forward to cooking with pomegranate molasses, but never had the opportunity before.
Tom: Is that what’s on the chicken?
Kirstin: Yes, it’s what makes that wonderful glaze.
Tom: Well whatever it is, it’s awesome. And the salad is fab too!
Kirstin: I love all the herbs and vegetable textures in the salad. They go so well with the quinoa.
Tom: And the kids liked the chicken too.
Kirstin: They did! I do have to add that her timings with cooking the chicken were way off, but the end result was totally worth it. There is also a bonus recipe of a pomegranate cake at the bottom of the page. A little random, but still worth looking at.
Kirstin: I have never stuffed a chicken before, so I was curious about this recipe on two fronts.
Tom: Well I love it!
Miles: It smelled of Greece in the kitchen!
Kirstin: I know what you mean, Miles. The stuffing had pancetta, along with lots of other yummy ingredients.
Tom: And I love the red peppers and potatoes.
Kirstin: Me too! Must try and remember that for future cooking.
Tom: But I really loved the guacamole.
Kirstin: Wasn’t that amazing with the chicken? Wow! So good. It was indeed ALL good. Although her wording could have been a little bit clearer, if I’m honest.
Sorry. I don’t have any photos for this. My phone died (a moment of silence, please), and I lost the photos I hadn’t backed up– which was only a few, but this was one of them.
This was the kind of brilliant dish that we loved so much out of Melissa Clark’s “Dinner” last month. A tray bake that you bang in the oven and produces a delicious (but easy) dinner.
Although the recipe called for putting the chicken into baguettes to make them into sandwiches, we skipped that. Instead, we just enjoyed the chicken with some basmati rice, seasoned yogurt and the chutney. It seems as though that was a good choice, as when I looked up the recipe on the Guardian website, she did the same the first time it appeared.
This dish got a thumbs up all around. We definitely will have this again.