Sunday, March 30, 2014

Nigella Lawson's Italian Tray Bake

Chicken and sausage Italian Tray bake, one pot cooking, from the Tuscan Hills, I am now a fan. This is an adaptation of Nigella's Italian Traybake recipe from her Nigellissima cookbook. I was in Brisbane, and needed to cook dinner in my daughter's kitchen. Her friend Sue was coming over, and I wouldn't have that much time to devote to it. I was flicking through her great selection of cookery books, much more fun than the online version and found this recipe. What really inspired me was that there is a great Irish butcher at Annerley who has won numerous sausage making awards who I was confident could help me with authentic Italian sausages. And he did. The dish was so tasty, and so easy. Finger lickin' good as they say. How do they say that in Italy I wonder?

I think to be honest the success of that particular tray bake was the fantastic sausages  the very fresh rosemary, and of course the company. However, I have made it again since and my rosemary though perhaps a bit more woody than the supermarket version is still a fantastic Italian herb to use. My challenge at home with not living in a metropolitan city is the lack of butchers who make Italian sausages. However we have a strong Maltese community here, and for this edition of the recipe I used Maltese sausages, also from a great butcher near where I live, and from an original Maltese recipe, which whilst stronger in flavour than the Italian recipe worked well. I actually think, as Nigella also suggests, that any good tasty thick sausages would do. You can go for the milder sausages, or the sweeter or "chilli and fennel" sausage. It is all about the fusion of flavours during the cooking process. The potatoes soak up the flavours and crisp up beautifully on the edges, and stay nice and firm.

Nigella also suggests using a shallow baking tray. This is probably preferable, however I have used both shallow and deep,  and there wasn't much difference in the result.

For the full Italian experience, serve with bread or lentils, pickled zucchini, and a couple of jars of flame-roasted peppers, drained and mixed with good olive oil, red wine vinegar, and parsley.

Buon appetito! and thanks Nigella Lawson. You saved the day.


3 baking potatoes (approx. 750g. total), unpeeled and cut into 2cm chunks
8 chicken thighs, bone in and skin on ( lovely legs without skin on will also work)
8 Italian sausages (approx. 750g total) Use Maltese if Italian unavailable
Small bunch (6 or 7 sprigs) of fresh rosemary
Zest of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon sea salt flakes or 1/2 teaspoon pouring salt
Ground pepper
4 x 15ml tablespoons of good quality olive oil

Let's cook:

Preheat the oven to 220deg C/Gas mark 7.
Put the potatoes into a large, shallow baking tray and add the chicken thighs and sausages. If using 2 trays, divide everything between them (and also swap the trays over and turn them round halfway through cooking time).

Arrange about 4 sprigs of the rosemary among the chicken and sausages, then finely chop the needles of another 2 sprigs, to give you about 2 teaspoons of finely chopped needles, and sprinkle these onto the chicken pieces. Believe me, this isn't too much rosemary.

Zest the lemon over everything, and season with the salt and a good grinding of pepper. Drizzle with the oil and bake for 50-60 minutes, or until the chicken skin and sausages are golden and the potato pieces are cooked through. It's fine to let all of this stand for up to 30 minutes once cooked, prior to serving.

Best wishes



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