Nigella’s chicken and peas traybake

This surprisingly delicious and simple one-pan dish by English food celebrity Nigella Lawson has become my go-to recipe for easy and tasty dinners, says Denene Erasmus. She adds that it’s very important to cook the baby peas from frozen, otherwise they go mushy.

Nigella’s chicken and peas traybake
  • 8 pieces of chicken with skin on and on the bone (thighs work best, but you can also use breasts and drumsticks)
  • 500g frozen baby peas
  • 250g leeks
  • 3 shallots (or medium-sized brown or red onions)
  • 3 large cloves of garlic, crushed
  • A handful of mint leaves (optional)
  • 60ml white wine
  • 30ml olive oil
  • 15ml lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper

1. Heat the oven to 180°C.

2. Roughly chop and then wash the leeks. (It is important to wash the leeks after chopping to make sure you get rid of any dirt that might be hidden between the layers.)

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3. Peel and cut the shallots or onions in half lengthwise.

4. Put the frozen peas, chopped leeks, crushed garlic, wine, olive oil and lemon juice, as well as a good seasoning of salt and pepper, in a large roasting pan and mix well.

5. Arrange the chicken pieces and the shallots on top of the pea and leek mixture. Brush a little olive oil over the chicken and sprinkle coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper over the chicken.

6. Bake for 45 minutes, then take it out of the oven and gently mix some mint leaves into the peas. If you are not using the mint, gently turn over the peas to make sure that they don’t start drying out.

7. Bake for another 30 minutes or until the skin on the chicken has turned brown and crispy.

8. Serve with some rice, mashed potato or another starch of your choice.

Denene hails from a sugar cane farm in Pongola, KwaZulu-Natal, but after school she relocated to the Cape Winelands to study, for many years, at the University of Stellenbosch. She worked as a journalist for Farmer’s Weekly since 2009 and in 2015 moved to Johannesburg as Deputy editor for the magazine. In 2016 she was appointed editor. Chances are the magazine won’t get rid of her soon, because the job allows her to write about two of her greatest passions – wine and politics. When she is not sitting behind her desk writing, riding around in bakkies with farmers, attending meetings in parliament or tasting new wines, you’ll most likely find her on the beach or in the kitchen trying out exotic recipes.