A home-cooked roast dinner is one of the meals most frequently missed by students. Often representing a strong sense of family it is, of course, linked to more than just the food itself, but it’s one home-comfort that can be fairly easy to reproduce. And while I’m not attempting to persuade anyone that this will be as fabulous as something that you’d get at home, this recipe for one-tray quick roast chicken is still a good option – especially when you consider how much more straight-forward it is to make than a traditional roast. You can decide which vegetables to use according to what you’ve got and what you fancy. So, you might prefer to use regular instead of sweet potatoes, or perhaps add a couple of parsnips. Pumpkin or squash would also work well. It’s really up to you.
This is the first meal in this series that uses meat / poultry, and I’m going to suggest that you buy free-range or organic chicken for it. As a less expensive alternative, the RSPCA Freedom Food chickens would be my second choice (in the UK). You should be able to shop for all of these in a supermarket, but if you’ve got access to a good butcher, then speak to them about your options. Although free-range / organic / welfare meat is more expensive, I firmly believe that we all have a responsibility to support more ethical farming practices such as these. And although it is more expensive, it’s still possible to incorporate these sorts of choices into a modest food budget by simply eating less meat / poultry (which can be a good idea for other reasons too). Following the meals in this series provides a good introduction for how you might go about doing this.
Straight-forward though it is, this is a meal that’s impressive enough to share with a friend or housemates – even family – if you feel like doing that. Equally, you can save what you don’t eat until the following day, when you can have it as another easy dinner option (but make sure that it’s thoroughly re-heated before you eat it). Alternatively, you’ve got the basis for a great lunch (or two) – if you remove the cooked chicken from the bone and mix it with the roasted vegetables, then you can make a great sandwich, use it to fill pitta bread, or turn it into a wonderful pasta salad.
[This is the seventh (and last) in a series of posts – you can find the first one here – prepared in response to a request from Jess, who has recently moved to London where she is a full-time student at LAMDA]
Recipe: One-Tray Roast Chicken and Vegetables
4 chicken thighs
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp mixed dried herbs
A selection of assorted vegetables
This is what I used:
2 large carrots, peeled and cut into large pieces
2 large courgettes, cut into large pieces
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into medium-sized pieces
1 red pepper, cut into large pieces
1 red onion, cut into medium-sized pieces
This makes 2 portions
Preheat the oven to 200°C / 400°F / Gas Mark 6.
Put the vegetables in a large flat bottomed roasting tray.
Add a tbsp or two of olive oil, and season with salt and pepper.
Mix everything together until it’s all lightly oiled.
Cut off any excess fat from the chicken thighs, but don’t remove the skin completely.
Add them to the roasting tray with the vegetables.
Squeeze some lemon juice over each of the thighs, season with a little more salt and pepper, and mix everything together again so that the chicken is coated with a bit of the oil. Rearrange so that the chicken pieces are nestled into the vegetables, making sure that they’re skin-side up.
Sprinkle over the dried mixed herbs.
Put the tray into the oven and roast for 50 minutes to 1 hour, depending on the size of the chicken thighs. Check that the chicken is cooked by inserting a skewer into the largest thigh – if the juices run clear then it’s cooked (if it’s pink then it needs to be cooked a little longer).
When everything is fully cooked, serve the chicken and vegetables onto a warm plate.
And if you fancy, tip some of the cooking juices straight from the pan over the chicken and / or vegetables before eating.