Sunday, 20 November 2022

Mexican Chicken and Capsicum Tray Bake

Mexican food is always full of flavour and colour, and when the ingredients can be combined into a homemade Mexican style traybake, with a few shortcuts, then it's a winner in my humble opinion. The first time that I cooked this dish we all loved it, I honestly couldn't fault it. Chicken Lovely Legs are perfect for this style of healthy cooking. The meat becomes very tender and almost falls off the bone. Whilst I often like to use chicken thighs with the bone in and skin left on for a lot of my cooking, this recipe doesn't need the extra fat. When I unpacked my chicken there were 5 lovely legs to 750 g., for 4 people. This was enough for us, but to be on the safe side, you could purchase 2 per person. By the end of the cooking time, the rice had cooked beautifully into a risotto. 

The most difficult part about cooking this traybake for me the first time, was deciding which pot to choose to cook it in. Your pot needs to have a lid. I chose my largest stovetop casserole dish, and whilst the contents only half filled the pot, it allowed a large surface area for the chicken and rice to cook in. This dish will be perfect if I double the quantities next time. If it was cooked in a covered baking tray, I think it could dry out too much and it would cook more quickly. We loved the flavoursome risotto component of the dish and the brown basmati rice was perfect for this. The red capsicums were juicy and tender and all in all this dish was a huge success. I'll make it again, it's become one of my favourites.  I hope you decide to give it a try.

This recipe is from the December 2022 issue of the Australian Women's Weekly, thanks AWW.

Some of the Chillies from our garden used in Sweet Chilli Jam

Cook's tips:

  • I generally steer away from commercially premade pasta sauces, but I have to admit the Arrabbiata sauce was delicious for a change, and the added chilli capsicum in the sauce was just spicy enough. The shortcut was also welcome on a busy day. I wanted to try the original recipe before I made any variations to it.  I don't have a problem though with using a homemade style salsa, and adding a sweet chilli to it. There are also plenty of recipes for Arrabbiata sauce on the internet, which I will try when I have a surplus of tomatoes.
  • This dish freezes well.
  • When you buy your Lovely Legs, I suggest you check how many pieces you are getting for the weight listed in the recipe. To be on the safe side, I would serve two legs per adult, however having said that, I am finding my generation aren't eating as much these days and one lovely leg with all that lovely saucy risotto was enough for each of us. They are meaty little fellas. 750 g was the equivalent of 5 lovely legs.
  • I also love serving my homemade Sweet Chilli Jam as an accompaniment to this dish along with some Sour Cream.
  • If you have the time, you could also use dried kidney beans which you have soaked overnight yourself. It's more economical.
  • For my local readers, Lovely Legs have been on special at Woolworths this week until tomorrow for $7.00 a kilo. That's the price I bought them for. (Once again, I'm not paid to advertise for Woolworths.)
Delicious Sweet Chilli Jam


Serves 4, Preparation and Cooking time 1 hour 5 minutes

750 g chicken lovely legs, trimmed if necessary, or 2 per person

2 teaspoons smoked paprika

2 teaspoons ground coriander

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

400 g bottled arrabbiata pasta sauce (or equivalent) (Mine was the Barilla brand from Woolworths, no advertising intended))

2 cups ((500 ml) chicken stock

1/2 cup (100 g) brown basmati rice

400 g can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed

2 medium (400 g) red capsicums, quartered, stems intact

1 medium (170 g) red onion, cut into thin wedges

1 cup coriander leaves


Preheat oven to 180 deg. C (160 deg C fan forced).

Place the spices in a small bowl and combine. Roll the chicken legs into the spices until chicken is coated and all the spice is used.

Heat the oil in a large flameproof roasting pan or casserole dish with a lid, which can also be used on a hotplate.

Fry the chicken for 3 minutes on each side or until lightly golden. Be careful not to burn the spices which fall into the oil.

Add the pasta sauce, chicken stock, rice, drained kidney beans, capsicum and onion to the dish with the chicken.

Season with salt and pepper and bring to a simmer.

Carefully transfer the dish to the oven.

Bake covered for 30 minutes. Remove the lid and cook for another 10 minutes until the chicken is cooked through and the rice is tender and looks like risotto.

Remove the dish from the oven, place on a cutting board on the bench and leave to stand for 5 minutes.

Serve topped with coriander and with a bowl of sour cream and a green salad on the side. My Sweet Chilli Jam is also a lovely accompaniment for the sour cream. A bowl of Corn Chips would also bring more of Mexico to the table.

Warm wishes



  1. that's funny pauline, i seem to be seeing chicken traybake recipes everywhere! You know how that happens sometimes with a recipe? I was actually about to make one myself today except friends asked us out for dinner out of the blue, so another day ... I tend to use my 30cm oval enamel dish with a lid for recipes like this. I put a layer of baking paper inside to make cleaning it easier. it all works a treat! And i love lovely legs!

  2. Thanks Sherry, I'd rather use a larger pot than worrying about it boiling over in the oven anyway. It's bit hard to line the pot for this one
    because the chicken needs to be cooked first and then the other ingredients added. still it's only one pot and the dish washer works well. Love a traybake in a pot.

  3. I love one pan meals. This looks so good and simple and fuss free to prepare.

  4. I have never heard the term Lovely Legs used when referring to chicken. We get these here, just called something plain and boring! One pot meals are always a winner imo :)

    1. Thanks Tandy,the name lovely legs for chicken thighs with the bone in but well trimmed has really caught on here. This was such a delicious one pot meal.

    2. Oops, they are legs indeed, not thighs.

  5. This sounds just wonderful, Pauline -- wonderful flavors! I have never heard of "lovely legs" - it looks like they are chicken legs that have had the bone removed?

  6. David, it seems lovely legs could be an Aussie name for chicken legs with the bone in and skin removed, very well trimmed. They are brilliant to cook with. Thanks for your comment.


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