It’s come to this, friends: I’m so neck-deep in cookbook manuscript writing that I’m showing you one, single Instagram photo of last night’s dinner just so we have an excuse to catch up. Nothing sweet or cakey today. But sweet cracker sandwich, this meal was so superb that I think just one photo and my ramblings might do us fine? (Lie to me.)
I’m now in the last couple of months of writing and recipe testing for my next book, and I have to say, I’m kind of in a sweet spot with it all right now. I hope saying something so positive out loud won’t cause something heavy to fall on top of me or similar, but I cannot wait for you guys to see this book and have you be able to use it in your kitchens. It’s got more depth than my previous titles, and has allowed me to really play and experiment, fail miserably and mope about it, and then, finally, on a really good day, have some great, fragrant, golden thing emerge from the oven that makes me feel like I can do this work for the rest of my life. High five! Writing cookbooks as a metaphor for life, who knew?
But it’s a scramble to make it all happen, no doubt. I clean my kitchen in its entirety no less than three times per day. And then there’s dinner. Ugh. Everyday, these people and their dinner needs! I’m telling you, IT NEVER ENDS. So when I come across a one-pan or slow cooker recipe that is dead-simple but tastes like something you’d serve company, and is easily customizable for the pickiest eaters in this house, I suddenly feel like I’m on MTV Spring Break, Daytona Beach, circa 1993 (Jon Stewart introduces The Lemonheads!).
Unfortunately (or quite fortunately, depending on how you look at it), I am well past the college Spring Break age, but I’ve developed my own, kind of fabulous old lady way to decompress after a long day of juggling a manuscript and small children. It involves wine, my legs stretched out under a blanket on our sofa, and DVR’d episodes of Nigella. I don’t care how old the episodes are, what Nigella series they are from, or if I’ve already seen them twice, it’s like a lullaby for my soul. This past Tuesday night during my borderline geriatric ritual, I saw Nigella in all her glowing-cheekboned glory making this Spanish Chicken. Wednesday night it was dinner. Easy prep, one pan, some steamed green beans, done and done. I love it when life works out that way, don’t you?
That Nigella recipe is totally going into our regular rotation, along with a few other one-pan and slow cooker weeknight saviors that often make an appearance around here:
Melissa D’Arabian’s Slow Cooker Carnitas. I make a quick slaw with Greek yogurt, lime, and cumin to go on top, with corn tortillas. Can’t get enough. Don’t question the whole orange concept, just shove it in there and go with it.
Everyday Food’s Orecchiette with Sausage and Peppers. I’ve been making and riffing on this dish for years (I use chicken or turkey sausage), and swear by the entire book from which this recipes comes. For this dish, I use jarred roasted red peppers–are you crazy, roasting peppers over a flame on a weeknight?!–or I use canned fire-roasted tomatoes instead.
Sheet Pan Chicken Dinner. Full disclosure: this is a video with me in it from a couple years ago, and we still eat this at least once a month. It suits all palates, you can use a variety of vegetables. More of a method than a recipe, really. It’s a religion over here.
Spanish Chicken with Chorizo and Potatoes
Adapted from Nigella Lawson
I couldn’t find Spanish chorizo in our market, so I used Portuguese linguica instead. The idea is that you want a drier sausage with a good amount of fat that will render and create flavorful pan sauce. The linguica wasn’t quite as robust as chorizo would have been, but an extra sprinkling of smoked paprika over everything made up for it. The original recipe doesn’t call for salt, but I required crisp, salty chicken skin and potatoes, so I very lightly seasoned each element.
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
6 medium chicken thighs, skin-on and bone in (about 1 1/2 pounds)
7 ounces linguica or Spanish chorizo, cut into 3/4 inch-thick slices
1 large red onion, peeled and cut into chunks
1 1/2 pounds baby Yukon Golds, halved
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon Spanish smoked pimenton paprika (optional)
1 medium orange
Position a rack to the center of the oven and preheat it to 425°F. Have ready a large rimmed baking sheet (I line mine with aluminum foil for easy clean up).
Drizzle 1 tablespoon of olive oil onto the sheet pan. Place the chicken thighs skin-side down in the oil, and smush them around a bit to coat the skin lightly in oil (you’re also lightly greasing the pan with this maneuver). Lightly season the underside of the chicken pieces with salt, then flip them skin side up and evenly space them on the baking sheet. Lightly sprinkle the chicken skin with salt. Toss the sausage slices onto the sheet pan, evenly distributing them.
In a medium bowl, toss the onion and potatoes together with the remaining tablespoon of oil, and another light sprinkling of salt. Add the onions and potatoes to the pan. Sprinkle the whole mess with dried oregano (getting the majority of the oregano onto the chicken skin), and a dusting of smoked paprika. Zest the orange over the entire pan. Roast until the vegetables are tender and browned, and the chicken juices run clear, about 1 hour. Let rest for 10 minutes before serving.
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