I was minded to write this by a post on the glorious blog Words To Eat By (subtitle: "because parents need to eat, too" – we do! We do!) in which the talented Debbie Koenig expounds on the infinite versatility of the ‘en papillotte’ method. And while I will be giving this a go in the very near future, I was reminded of my own ‘one method fits all’ recipe. I think I first got the idea from Nigella Lawson (I have a hard time with all her simpering and pouting but I love her ideas). The basic premise is this: place vegetables in dish, place protein on top, drizzle some oil, add some aromatics, put in oven, walk away, drink wine, watch telly, chat with significant other, enjoy enticing aroma, eat.I think I first tried potatoes, onions, green pepper (yes! I know! Green pepper! Whereas normally only red/orange/yellow are worth the time and energy, I reckon) and courgette with chicken portions on top, aromatized with wedges of lemon. Fish is good – slice any potatoes thinly, though, and consider capers and olives alongside. Or try sausages with sweet potatoes. Oh, yeah.
I’m a bit less carb-centric than I once was, so my current favourite riff on this is chunks of butternut squash with cherry tomatoes, garlic, and leeeeeetle cubes of chorizo. If I buy a whole chicken this is what I do with the thighs, drumsticks and wings.
Serves ? (I don’t know, how hungry are you? Two or three people, maybe?)
Small butternut squash, peeled and deseeded and cut into large chunks
80g chorizo, cubed
2-3 cloves of garlic, chopped
300g cherry tomatoes
2 chicken wings, 2 thighs, 2 drumsticks, skin on
salt, pepper, olive oil
chopped coriander to garnish, if you're feelin' fancy
Heat your oven to around 230C, put the squash, chorizo, garlic and cherry tomatoes in a dish. Put the chicken pieces on top, skin-side up. You don’t want to have to come and baste the chicken, so let the fat from under the chicken skin work its magic by gravity. (And of course you can always remove the skin before you eat… if you don’t like, well, pleasure, I guess.) Drizzle the lot with a teensy bit of olive oil, scatter Malden salt and black pepper liberally then put in a hot oven for around 40 minutes, or until everything is nicely browned and bubbling and yum-licious. Scatter with the coriander and serve.
Family-friendliness rating: Depends on the vegetables you use, but this is generally pretty versatile, so you can adapt it to suit family tastes. Everybody is bound to find something they like, here.
Cleanup rating: Excellent! One dish to wash! Of course it’s been in the oven…
Can you freeze it? No.