Tray bien: A delicious chicken roast without the painful clean-up

The only sacrifice in this one-tray chicken dinner is gravy – but you won’t miss it

One-tray roast chicken

One-tray roast chicken

 

I really do love a roast dinner but I’ve never been one for Sunday roasts. Even though I cook so much every day, I feel like Sundays should be for eating something easy. Sunday roasts usually involve using every saucepan in the kitchen. Par-boiling potatoes does make the best roast potatoes, but at what cost?

I do the wash-up maths in my head; that’s the pot, colander, plus roasting tin, equals an extra long clean-up afterwards. And if I’m doing roast chicken I have to do cauliflower cheese, puréed carrots, and something green like spinach or green beans. A good gravy from the vegetables roasting underneath the chicken is another requirement.

My middle child loves herb-flecked stuffing whenever there’s roast chicken around, and he rarely asks for anything, so I always do it. It turns into a mini Christmas Day. So, in an effort to get the best of both worlds I’m cooking it all in one tray.  

There is a small price to pay for this: no gravy. Instead the tomatoes, lemon and roast garlic can be mashed together on your plate. Having been roasted under the chicken thighs, the flavour from these is delicious and the texture is luxuriously jammy, with blistered black tomato skin, creamy garlic and all of that chicken schmaltz. It’s really divine.

Crisp it up

I usually remove the chicken and leave it to rest, covered, then return the vegetables to the oven for the potatoes to crisp up further before serving. Scatter with some fresh herbs before serving. Tarragon, thyme, basil or parsley are all ideal.

Any leftover vegetables can be made into soup, and the flavour from them is just amazing. You can get boneless chicken thighs for this, but really the bone adds so much flavour. I usually remove the bones after cooking, before plating dinner up. That way I can use the bones to make stock and won’t spend my entire mealtime cutting up everyone else’s dinner for them. 

Lovely free-range Irish chicken needs very little to make it taste quite perfect. A little drizzle of olive oil to encourage it crisping up, sea salt and black pepper is all that’s needed. I’ve been enjoying Skeaghanore chicken from west Cork. It’s amazing value and such great quality. They sell everything from chicken breasts to gizzards and carcasses. It’s fantastic to see producers offering up every part of the animal they produce and really does encourage the consumer to think more creatively and realistically when cooking. 

Recipe: ONE TRAY ROAST CHICKEN

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