This no-nonsense, no-fuss, easy one-tray-wonder is as delicious as it is simple
This is one of those simple suppers (as the magazines would call it) that fulfils quite a quite a few tick boxes in my book - it's adaptable, quick to prepare and can sit in the oven with minimal intervention until needed. Originally it came from my sister-in-law and in the family is known as Clare's Lazy Chicken, however I have adapted it slightly.
Here's the original recipe for those of you who like exact amounts of things. I stumbled at the first hurdle when I made the one in the photo (above) as I was only cooking for two of us, and couldn't be bothered to divide everything in the recipe by three. So, the following recipe is what I did, and the original recipe is posted for you to see to stop the 'but exactly how much rice did you use?' - because in true LarderThanLife style, I just bunged some things in a pan and popped it in the oven.
One thing I must mention about this recipe though is that you must use chicken with the SKIN ON. If you don't then a) you miss out on delicious 'chicken bacon' and b) you will get dry, unappetising chicken. If you're not a fan of the skin for any reason just take it off after cooking, rather than before, to preserve the moistness of the meat.
So, this is how you make it: find a nice big lasagne-style oven dish, big enough to easily tesselate whatever chicken pieces you are using. I use nice organic run-around chicken thighs, but you could ramp it up and use skin-on chicken breasts, or whole leg joints. The point is that the chicken pieces must sit easily in the dish and not overlap each other. Plenty of space around them is fine.
Start by chopping an onion up quite finely and then scatter it in the bottom of the dish (I don't bother greasing it FYI). Follow suit with anything else you have like garlic (one or two cloves), any colour pepper, chilli pepper, mushrooms, courgettes, green beans, sweetcorn, fennel - basically if you have it and it needs using up, this is the dish to use it in. I'd say limit yourself to two or three veg and don't overdo it on quantity as the next ingredient you'll be adding is basmati rice, which will, of course, expand on cooking. Sprinkle in about as much as you feel necessary. At least cover the veg and then some more for luck. To be more precise I guess use as much as is recommended per person, but also just use your eye. Then dust on some paprika, some sort of dried or fresh herb, the lime juice if you have it (don't panic if not) and seasoning. Again, just see what's in the pantry - if you don't have paprika you could use chilli powder or dried coriander, and standard mixed dried herbs are fine rather than thyme. Cumin will make it curry-flavoured though, which might be fun, but just be warned that it's a dominating spice.
Next, place your chicken pieces skin-side-up on top of the rice and vegetables. In a deviation from the original I don't bother browning them first - waste of time and washing up, if you ask me. I find the skin browns and crisps beautifully in the oven. Finally, make up some decent stock or bouillon and pour it over the rice and chicken. Again, don't ask me right now for quantities - I'm sure there's a mathematical thing you can do to work it out, I just pour it in until it feels right. Usually that means up to the top of the chicken pieces, but not submerging them.
Then, pop the whole dish (uncovered) in a preheated oven - somewhere between 180 and 200C - for an hour. That's it. Hence why it's 'lazy' as then you don't have to do anything to it until it's done. OK, well, maybe one thing... unless you've been a maths/rice genius and got your amount of stock completely correct, you might want to check the rice about 10-15 minutes before the end of cooking to see if it needs more water. Quite often around the chicken pieces you'll see uncooked grains - don't worry about them too much unless it looks like ALL the rice is uncooked - a bit of crunch is desirable.
Once done, chop some flat leaf parsley on top and serve with salad or green veg of choice - it's good with French beans or broc for example. And fight your family for the crunchy, sticky, crusty bits around the edge of the dish - delicious!
As mentioned above, don't be a slave to the recipe. The key thing is that the rice is cooked in the stock and the chicken juices and so it utterly yummy. Everything else is just window dressing, but it does help to have the tang of citrus and hum of spice. I've never tried it with a different meat, but I suppose you could experiment. I wouldn't bother though as this is perfect as it is.