This week has been a bit of a bumpy one for the poor old meal plan, as between one thing and another, we've had to move meals around and change them at short notice. Amazingly, I actually planned to have meals that could be moved and changed at short notice - which doesn't happen often!
So all this shuffling around, meant that this Paprika chicken & chorizo bake dish wound up as our Sunday roast - which it did very well at. A lot better than expected, actually!
The dish had been inspired by a Hairy Dieters recipe for Spanish-style Chicken Bake which I'd seen in the BBC Good Food magazine. It's basically a multi-vegetable tray bake with chicken, but the bit I liked the most was that it purported to be low in fat.
Now I will admit that in the changes I made to the recipe, I included a tablespoonful of rapeseed oil. However, having swapped their chicken thighs with the skin on, for skinless chicken breasts, I felt I was swapping the potential chicken fat for an oil that was actually really good for you. Rapeseed oil has every good thing that olive oil does - and more. The chicken breasts needed some oil in order to stay juicy and marinating them in it, along with the paprika and oregano, was a jolly good idea as it just added to the depth of the flavours.
I wasn't overly confident that the amount of vegetables would be sufficient for my menfolk, either. The addition of a courgette and some mushrooms - plus the change from an indigestible (well, that's how I find them anyway) green pepper to an infinitely more digestible long sweet red pepper, made all the difference.
I served the dish with some home-made potato wedges that I'd tossed in a little Umami paste - and which were yummy.
I had the makings for a side salad, just in case it didn't look very much on the plate, but they stayed in the fridge as it was more than adequate, as you can probably see from the photographs.
As for making it, well that couldn't have got a lot easier! I find that getting down to the oven is becoming more of a trial these days, but the 20 minute intervals weren't too uncomfortable to administrate. Because everything is cooked in the oven you don't have to juggle the timings for vegetables on the hob to coincide with your oven baked components being done - which makes life a lot easier.
Two things are well worth pointing out from a cook's perspective. Firstly, is the garlic. Don't be tempted to leave the garlic out. Now I know not everyone is keen on garlic and you can come away from a meal like this feeling like you've just eaten a garlic sandwich made with garlic butter on garlic bread - but not in this case. The three cloves of garlic - one each - cook through beautifully and become softly sweet and gently flavoured. Squash some out of its jacket and eat with a mushroom - and you'll know why I'm saying to make sure to include it. Simply gorgeous! By all means include more than the one clove each, if you really like your garlic!
Secondly, is the roasting tin. I have a lovely, deep, non-stick roasting tin - but I always line it with non-stick silver foil. I will admit that this was, initially, at hubby's urging as he had got fed up with trying to scrape bits of food from roasting tins whilst trying to leave the "non-stick" coating intact during the washing up. It seemed wasteful to me, to be using a non-stick silver foil on what was supposed to be a non-stick roasting dish. However, I do have to agree with him that it is well worth it, to be able to wash up the roasting tin in a twinkling of the time it used to take. Very well worth it. So it is up to you - but I recommend adopting the same approach, particularly if you have any disability or your hubby does all the dishes!
So what did the meal taste like?
Well, the chicken was just divine. The rapeseed oil had kept it beautifully juicy, as had the steam rising from the cooking vegetables. It was subtly flavoured with smoked paprika and oregano, which complemented the paprika in the chorizo. The chorizo had let go of its fat, which had combined with the juice from the tomatoes, mushrooms and peppers and provided just enough moisture to keep the whole thing tasty.
The sprinkling of chopped fresh parsley not only makes the plate look extremely pretty, but adds to the flavour. It provides that dash of freshness that lifts all the cooked vegetables and is very worth including.
All three of us, with our differing likes and dislikes, really enjoyed this dish. There was sufficient diversity provided by the different flavours and textures of vegetable to keep our interest right to the last bite - and low fat! You couldn't ask for more.
Oh - and don't forget, you can click on the photographs above and see them in a much bigger format. However, you might want to avoid doing that if you're hungry. *wink* Hubby has been honing his photography skills!
PAPRIKA CHICKEN & CHORIZO BAKE (Serves 3)
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 tbsp rapeseed oil
½ tsp sweet smoked paprika
½ tsp dried oregano
1 red onion, cut into 8 wedges
3 garlic cloves, unpeeled - just remove the root end
4 tomatoes, quartered
1 courgette, sliced
1 sweet red pepper, seeds removed and sliced into chunks
4 mushrooms, quartered
120g picante chorizo, sliced
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
a handful of fresh parsley, chopped, to serve.
1. Take each chicken breast and lightly score across, twice, to create a diamond pattern. Place into a bowl with the rapeseed oil, sweet smoked paprika and oregano and toss until thoroughly coated in the herbs and spices. Set aside.
2. Into a deep roasting tin, place the onion, garlic and tomatoes. Season well with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper and place into a pre-heated oven at 180degC/350degF/Gas 4 for 20 minutes.
3. When the 20 minutes is up, remove and toss the contents around to loosen them up a bit. Add the courgette, red pepper, mushrooms and chorizo and give another mix.
4. Place each chicken breast on top of the vegetables & chorizo mixture and season with a little sea salt.
5. Place back into the oven for another 20 minutes.
6. Remove from the oven and remove the chicken breasts to a warmed plate. Turn the vegetables and chorizo mixture, then test the chicken to see whether it requires much more cooking.
7. If the chicken is done, cover with foil and reserve to keep warm. If the chicken requires a little longer, cover it lightly with three pieces of silver foil cut to match the size of the chicken. This will help to prevent the chicken from drying out. Turn the oven up to 200degC/400degF/Gas 6 and return to the oven for another 10 minutes or until the chicken is done and the veggies are all tender.
8. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve with potato wedges.