Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to have nothing else to do in the day but plan a wonderful feast for my family and go out and buy the ingredients I need and just potter away, with all the time in the world, to put a loving meal on the table. Wouldn’t that be great? But the reality is that there just isn’t enough hours in the day for us Mums these days. With helping out with homework, driving kids to sports, being active in your community sitting in on P&F and other committees, trying to keep up with housework and laundry, shopping, bills and feed everyone is a real juggle. Not to mention those Mums who actually have a full time job as well (my God how do you do it??).
I love cooking, and I know most of you do too. But on busy days it can become just another chore to get done, and unless you’re super organised the pantry and fridge is often missing those things you need when you’re about to get dinner on! That’s why I think our fridges and pantries are like a Mystery Box (well mine is anyway – full of odd items I’ve bought that I’ve never used, and often lacking all the essentials I forget to buy). I bet everyone has a ‘throw together’ meal they can rustle up no matter how lean their pantry is or how time poor they are.
I thought I’d share with you one of my favourite throw together meals – and for me it’s chicken! We are big chicken eaters in my house so I always have some lurking about in the freezer. I thought I got out some boneless chicken thighs yesterday, with plans to make something very different, but once it defrosted a little and I could actually see what was in the bag, I realised I had gotten out some skinless chicken legs (or lovely legs as they’re called in the shops). It’s no wonder I had no clue what I was grabbing out of my freezer, it’s jam packed with all sorts of things and I’m not very good at labelling.
I know – it’s a bit of a dog’s breakfast in there! I have a real problem when it comes to food shopping. I get home and wonder where the heck I’m going to fit it all.
Anyhow – what to do with the lovely legs? Thankfully I always have the essentials I need to make this standby one pan chicken dinner that is a favourite in my family.
First thing to do is line the roasting tin with baking paper and throw the chicken in.
I use a pretty big roasting tray so everything can sit in one layer. Next, I chop up some onions, skin and all, and throw them in with the chicken. This is rustic family food so I can’t be bothered removing the skins.
Next I throw in some whole garlic cloves – about 8 or so. Keeping their skins on protects the garlic from burning, and once it’s cooked it will be soft and meltingly delicious. So good you can smear it on bread (keeps the vampires away!).
Cut the potatoes into wedges, skin on, and add them to the pan too.
Time to get the flavour into this dish – I always have some rosemary in the garden, and you should too. Easy to grow and so versatile. Just pick some of the leaves off and sprinkle all over the chicken and leave some on the stems. The rosemary gives a beautiful earthy herb flavour to chicken.
Next I add in some dried oregano. I love this herb, and it is very intense dried – so good on pizza or in a pasta sauce. It’s one of my favourite dried herbs and I use it in so many dishes.
Next, I sprinkle in some paprika, cracked pepper and a good seasoning of salt. Now you can start to imagine how good this is going to taste!
I like to add lemons to this dish. The lemon brings a fresh citrus note to the chicken. Just cut and squeeze the juice of one lemon over. Throw all the lemon wedges into the pan, once cooked it is delicious (skin and all!).
Last, and my no means least, drizzle in some olive oil. Just normal olive oil, leave the extra virgin for your side salad! Don’t be shy, The chicken needs to be moist.
There we have it – good to go into the oven. How easy was that?
Cook at 180 degrees celcius for around 45 – 60 minutes. Check on it every now and then and use a pastry brush to baste the chicken in it’s juices. If it looks dry, just add a splash more olive oil.
When it’s ready, it will look all golden and yummy like this.
Now all I do is pile it up on a wooden board and put it in the middle of the table for everyone to dive in. This is family food at it’s best. A visual feast! We ate it last night with a side of a simple risotto, but you can eat it with a salad or other roast vegetables. It’s also delicious with a side of pasta (but what wouldn’t be?).
So there you have it – my throw together chicken dinner. So easy – and you can use any chicken pieces you like, with skin on or off. Just make sure it has the bone in.
To those of you who answered my question “what’s your favourite throw together dinner” on my facebook site, thanks so much! It’s great to see so many interesting recipes! Here are some of my favourites!
From Alexandra Roy: One my mummy does. Spaghetti, onions/tin tomatoes chopped/bacon chopped/lots tom sauce in a frypan, add spaghetti to frypan stuff once cooked and add in a lot of grated cheese n stir till melted then serve. Very easy, cheap n yummy. Great on toast or toasted bun the next day when cold too. Add mushrooms if you like.
Thanks Alexandra – I think pasta is one of the all time ‘throw together’ meals that work every time!
From Kim Louise Bonney: Tacos. We have the taco spice blend from “Screaming Seeds” a local spice blend company here in Geelong, always in our cupboard. A jar of salsa, taco shells and an onion in the cupboard, mince in the freezer and cheese & lettuce in the fridge. Sometimes when I think about it on the way home I stop at our local fruit & veg shop to pick up corriander, lime, cherry tomatoes, avocado and capcicum to make a refreshing salsa. Yum.
Sounds delicious Kim – I need to look up that spice blend!
From Samantha Vadala: Chicken diced, French onion soup mix and whatever vegetable is in the house! Usually put in that last bit of the pasta bag too!
Thanks Samantha – the ol French Onion Soup packet is a feature in some of my old recipes too, such great flavour!
From Nikki Watt: Honey roasted pumpkin or sweet potato salad
Sounds delicious Nikki!
From Leanne Furnace: Good old Curried Snags or a Stew(with dumpling even better)
The curried snags are definitely from my era Leanne! Such a great way to use leftovers from last nights barbie too!
From Renae Counsell: Pasta with garlic, olive oil and Parmesan. Too easy and we all love it
Hi Renae – I hear ya! One of the best pasta dishes in the world!
From Natalie McDonald: For not much time – For the kids; fruit and veg platter and fresh bread with boiled eggs OR bacon and egg omelette. For me scrambled eggs with smoked salmon, avocado and kimchi OR BLT.
The platter idea for dinner is so good!
From Joanne Henderson: Corn on the cob followed by chicken cacciatore then homemade fruit pie lol
Joanne – if that’s your throw together you must be an absolute whizz! Sounds amazing!
If you have a favourite throw together meal, I’d love to hear from you! Being able to ‘wing it’ in our kitchens is what real life cooking is all about! Happy cooking everyone!! xx