Regardless of the fact that I don’t actually eat meat I always try and buy free-range when I’m cooking it for others. I’m still astounded by how hard it can be to find any kind of free range meat on this side of the pond. I also haven’t really found a satisfactory reason for this yet – I fear the answer may well simply be the almighty dollar.

It’s been around 20 years since I last ate meat so I’m probably not the best judge but I’m led to believe that animals that grow and behave the way nature intended produce better tasting flesh. Even if this isn’t case I’m a little more comfortable knowing that it had better quality of life before my husband sinks his teeth into it.

Spanish chicken bake

This is my go-to dinner for when I’ve spent the day tour-guiding visitors around the local sights. Anything that requires more or less just piling the ingredients into a roasting tin and slamming into the oven whilst I have a beer is a winner for me – and for my guests by all accounts.

Ingredients

Serves 2-3

800g free-range chicken thighs or legs (bone in for more flavour)

500g new potatoes

1 large red onion

8-10 garlic cloves (unpeeled)

1 red pepper

250g cherry tomatoes

70g pitted black olives (optional)

1 tbs olive oil

1 tsp paprika

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (optional if you like little more kick)

salt & pepper

1 tsp of dried mixed herbs or a few sprigs of fresh thyme, oregano and rosemary

juice of half a lemon

chopped parsley (to garnish)

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Pre-heat your oven to 200°c.

Cut the potatoes in half and place into a large roasting tin.

Peel the onion and slice it into chunky wedges, 8ths or 6ths is usually about right. Throw these into the tin too.

Add the chicken portions and drizzle on the olive oil. Sprinkle over the spices, seasoning and herbs sprigs. Now get stuck in with your hands and toss it all together so that the spices coat everything but try not to let the onion break up too much.

Put this in the oven for around 20mins to give the spuds and chicken a head start.

Wash your hands and cut the tomatoes in half and the pepper into chunky pieces.

Pile these into the tin along with the olives and garlic cloves. Squirt on the lemon juice and mix together to coat and turn the chicken and potatoes so that they cook evenly.

Return to the oven for a further 20mins or a bit longer if the potatoes and chicken need it. You want it to get to the stage where the vegetables are slightly caramelised and chicken and potatoes are beautifully roasted. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and let everyone dig in.

Notes

I make this for myself using Quorn fillets but they have tendency to go a little dry. I add them in the last 15mins of cooking and make sure they are well coated in oil.

Sometimes, if I have some open, I add a splash of dry white wine too.

This is tasty with big juicy prawns too. Leave them in their shells and obviously don’t cook them for as long, 15-20mins will do it.

If you have a gas barbecue with a lid this cooks really well on it.