Sometimes when I’m not feeling particularly ambitious about cooking a meal, I turn to what I call “walkaway” recipes. Think of foods like stews and soups that allow you to just dump everything in one cooking vessel and leave it to get nice and yummy with very little input from you. That’s pretty much what a traybake is about.
A traybake isn’t so much a recipe as it is a concept. The main idea behind a traybake is simply cooking an entire meal on one tray in the oven. It means quick preparation and minimal washing-up, perfect for a weekday dinner or lazy weekend lunch. This particular traybake has chicken, sausages, and vegetables of your choice.
I use chicken thighs with the bones left in because they taste better. I also leave the skin on because it keeps the chicken moist. It also goes so deliciously crispy in the oven. (You can always remove the skin after cooking if you’re trying to be health-conscious.)
Buy proper sausages. Not the frozen, overly-processed ones that go into hot dogs, but the ones you can get from the deli counter that are filled with meat, spices and herbs. The sausages are going to contribute a whole load of flavour to the dish with minimal fuss. I chose chorizo sausages for my particular traybake only because my supermarket had them on offer.
If you’re worried about your chicken drying out, you can add just enough chicken stock or white wine to cover the base of your tray. Or, you can use a moisture-rich vegetable like courgettes (a.k.a. zucchinis) or tomatoes that will release water during cooking.
Use your favourite herbs as well, fresh if at all possible. Dried herbs are still okay, just not as pungent. The nice thing about chicken is that it plays well with so many types of herbs. Thyme is a perennial favourite that I often use. Tarragon is a classic choice as well. Oregano and rosemary help the chicken taste more meaty. The same goes for spices as well – paprika gives nice heat and colour, or try cumin for something more flavourful.
I’m only going to give you the main parts of this traybake but no exact measurements. Just use as much or as little as you want to suit your taste and how many guests you’re intending to feed.
Chicken thighs, with bone and skin intact
Sausages, sliced 1-inch thick
Starchy vegetables (e.g., new potatoes, sweet potatoes, etc.), chopped into large chunks
Other vegetables (e.g., onions, bell peppers, carrots, etc.), chopped into large chunks
Herbs (e.g., thyme, oregano, tarragon, etc.)*
Spices (e.g., paprika, cumin, cayenne pepper, etc.)*
Zest from a citrus fruit (e.g., lemon, orange, lime)*
Olive or vegetable oil
Salt and pepper
*You can use any combination of herbs, spices, or citrus fruit that you like.
Step 1: Preheat your oven to 220°C (430°F).
Step 2: In a large shallow baking tray (lined with foil for easy clean up), add about 1 tbsp of oil. Place your chicken pieces skin side down and rub with the oil. Turn them over and rub oil on the underside.
Step 3: Add in the sausages and vegetables. Sprinkle over herbs (chopped if the leaves are large like tarragon and basil) and/or spices and/or citrus zest. Add salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle more oil over the entire tray. Add liquid (stock or wine) if using.
Step 4: Bake for 45-60 minutes, depending on how densely packed your tray is. Serve warm in the tray.
This recipe is very scaleable, so you can have a solo supper or easily feed a huge party. And as you can see, this traybake has an infinite number of combinations, which means get creative and create your very own traybake!