A Nigella recipe

Chickmain

          Has anyone seen the March issue of Food and Wine magazine? I just about drooled when I saw the amazing picture of the baked chicken and sausage dish sprawled on the entire spread of page 158. Hmmn, a Nigella Lawson recipe. I have heard both negative and positive feedbacks on her cooking but have been pretty neutral about her so far – except when I wish I can be half as seductive as she is when she samples her food 😉

           Anyway, before we end up discussing Nigella and her other er …endowments, let us focus back on the dish, shall we?

            Seriously, how can sausage in any dish go wrong? I remember one time, I was making cheesy grits, and it appeared to be lacking a depth of flavor. After I added the sausage, the flavors pulled together like magic. Do you know why? It’s the animal fat. Whether we admit it or not, that’s where all the good stuff is, baby!

            If you live in Richmond, I get my sweet Italian sausage from the Belmont Butchery. This place is awesome and it is high time we have an establishment like this in the area. They sell awesome charcuterie and I managed to score some pork fat (for rendering) to use in my next round of confit-making. I heard their butcher trained somewhere in Europe; no, it’s not Bill Buford.

            These are signs of a return to the old days. The days when you can have your butcher provide you with cut-to-order meat and phenomenal home-made charcuterie. The days when you find chicken that were less than 4 lbs. And the days when fruits and vegetables did not resemble produce belonging to the Land of the Giants.

          I also like getting a whole chicken and cutting it up myself. This forces me to practice some knife skills. It may sound weird, but I find great satisfaction in dissecting an entire fowl and knowing that I can use every single part of it – whether it is for the meal at hand or for making a stock later. (I would, however, draw the line in butchering one myself. And I don’t think the “hungry” hubby would be pleased if I “chickened” out at the last minute because I got squeamish, left the knife half impaled in the poor chicken’s neck and abandoned him to finish the job as executioner.)

           Anyway on a less graphic note, this is one of the simplest chicken dishes I have ever made. I find it very flexible with high approval ratings in the taste and time department. I have typed up the recipe as it appeared in the Food and Wine magazine. My slight modifications are in the cooking notes.

One-pan Chicken, Sausage and Sage bake

                 By Nigella Lawson, F&W magazine March 2007

1 lemon, halved

2 small onions, peeled and quartered through the root ends

½ cup pure olive oil

2 tsp. dry mustard

1 tbs dried sage

1 tbs Worcestershire sauce

Freshly ground pepper

One 4-pound chicken, cut into 10 pieces

Kosher salt

12 sweet Italian sausages

2 tbsp chopped fresh sage

           Squeeze the lemon halves into a large resealable plastic bag. Cut each lemon half into 4 pieces and add to the bag along with the onions, olive oil, mustard, dried sage and Worcestershire sauce; season with pepper. Seal the bag and squish the ingredients together until well mixed. Add the chicken pieces to the bag and coat thoroughly. Refrigerate overnight.

             Preheat the oven to 425 °F. Let the chicken stand at room temperature in the marinade for 30 minutes. Pour the contents of the bag into a large roasting pan. Turn the chicken pieces skin side up and season with salt. Arrange the sausages around the chicken and sprinkle all over with the fresh sage. Bake for 1 hour, until the chicken and the sausage are browned; turn the sausages halfway through the cooking. Transfer the chicken, sausages, onions and lemons to a platter, drizzle with some of the pan juices and serve.

            

Cooking Notes:

            As Nigella stated in the preface to this recipe, this dish is very flexible. So go crazy! For my part I added 6 cloves of garlic to the marinade and excluded the dried sage. I try not to use dried herbs except oregano because this simply does not compare to using fresh. (The exception of oregano is because this is the only herb that develops better taste when dried.)

Aside from fresh sage, I sprinkled fresh thyme and would have used marjoram if I had any. I was not able to marinate it overnight but only for 4 hours.

With a dish this simple, it is very important to use good ingredients. I chose a chicken that was around 3 ½ pounds at the most. I find that these smaller ones have the best flavor and enough fat to meat ratio to withstand a high-temperature bake and still maintain their juiciness. There is not much you can do with the flavor of the sausage except to be certain that it is from a good purveyor. I was pleased with the one I got from Belmont Butchery because it was not too salty and the spices in it did not overpower the essence of the meat.

What I will like to do next time is to add the salt with the marinade and let it sit for 24 hours. I will also add an extra lemon since I did not quite taste it in the chicken. The one mystery is the dry mustard. I have no idea what it adds to the final product.

            I got to hand it to Nigella, this chicken-sausage bake is a real winner and one I could encourage my friends to try at home!

26 thoughts on “A Nigella recipe

  1. Well normally I'd turn my nose up at anything Nigella, but I think I'll have to take a leap of faith (in you, not her) and try this one for company next weekend. Fortunately they are all family and I am allowed to experiment with them.

  2. I guess it's harder for Nigella to mess up a simple savory chicken dish than baking. And sausage is definitely a welcome addition to any meal!

  3. Hi Veron – It is amazing how much difference to a meal really good quality meat (and fat) can make to a meal. What I loved about living in Long Beach was having a great butcher who I was able to call in advance so that he could have the chicken livers, veal shanks, etc that I wanted. I have yet to go exploring for a good butcher in Auckland, but I've heard that it's not like the good ol' days. As for Nigella, I've never really gone wrong with her before. Even her simplest dishes have wowed me – I mean how bad can using the fat from a roast meal be to stir into pasta? This is genius when one doesn't want to do too much but wants something ultimately crave-satisfying (from "How to Eat" I think). This is a great post – as always.

  4. Heavenly.. it looks heavenly. Chicken and sausage go so well together too. I love how the skin looks sticky and crispy at the same time. *swoon*

    I have to say, I do think Nigella's savory recipes turn out better than some of her baking recipes – and with that said, I also should say that her chocolate cakes, whichever variety you choose, always come out fabulousssssss. 😀

    xoxo

    PS – Teach me how to carve a chicken please!! I roasted one last night and struggled finding where the thigh bone connected so I could cut through the joint. I gave up after I got the thighs/legs off and just hacked at the rest of it. Poor lil deliciously golden brown birdie. *sniff*

  5. Thanks Lydia !
    Jenny – I'm sure you'll have no problem making this for the family.
    T.W. – it took a while for Richmond to get one, and I'm glad we finally did!
    Peabody – Thanks. I'll have to make another of her recipes to make my mind up about her.
    Thanks Tanna – I tried to make it look as appetizing as it tasted.
    Melting Wok – hmmn tough choice, I'm sure we can make a trade somehow!
    brilynn – I am quite sure the sausage helped this dish a lot.
    Ari – I love fried chix, gotta look for that NIgella recipe!
    Hi Lisa – I could surely give you some pointers.You usually have to just twist the thigh bone out. And a sharp knife is a must.
    Hi Shaun – it is truly amazing how the quality of your ingredients influence the end product. Ever since I started getting all this prime cuts of meat I do not have to do much to it to make it tasted good.
    Thanks Ximena , this dish did taste as good as it looked.

  6. I am a big fan of sausages myself but have never had it with chicken. I haven't lived.. I didn't pay too much attention to the last issue of F & W. Might do next time I am at the newsagent. I am not in Richmond but need to go that way to visit the baking store so I might include a visit to the shop recommended.; o )

  7. Veron,
    This dish looks great and it would be a nice idea for those Sunday lunches when loads of people come to eat. 🙂

    As for Nigella, she and I have had our differences, but I like her still. I wrote on Ivonne's blog once that she looks great and that we should stop thinking about eating healthy food and splurge in butter!

  8. It's great that you have a reliable neighbourhood butcher to go to. I dislike buying meat from the supermarket from all those pre-packed stuff. 🙂 You're right about sausages and fat. That's where all the flavour is! I love using Italian pork sausages with fennel for stews.

  9. Sausage rocks. The dish looks oh so tasty! I normally roast chicken with a few sausages or chipolatas on the same pan. I love the combination of chicken and pork sausages in one dish.

    This looks like a sure winner in my house too.

    By the way, yes, of course you can use the osso buco cut. I imagine it would taste really good. I think it will be fabulous! When are you making it? Can i come for dinner? 🙂

  10. Don't mention Nigella in front of Brilynn….oops, too late!! This is a great one pot dish though! Looks great and how can you go wrong with sausage AND chicken? Some mashed potatoes and hooray!

  11. Looks easy and tasty! Sausage and bacon (hehe) are my great standbys in adding oomph to a meal….Mmmmm 🙂 Thanks for always being so detailed in your cooking notes…it really helps!

    You are so lucky to have a great butcher! We don't have much choices here and this is something I have always dreamed of (yes, I dream of a butcher…nice)…to have cut to order meats…expert meat advice….sigh…

    The recipes that I have tried from Nigella have all served me well so far 🙂

  12. Hi Valentina – maybe you can give sausage a try this time? :), I do really think it adds to the overall taste of the dish.
    Thanks Patricia – this definitely an easy dish for a crowd! I know , Nigella is one voluptous sexy domestic goddess! And butter is good!
    Steven – I now consider italian sausages a go to ingredient ;).
    Hi Mae – thanks for the info on osso buco. Your braised shank dish on your site had me drooling from hello.
    Ha..haa.. Freya , i've heard the Nigella nightmares from the girls…it is funny. but Bril says maybe Nigella's savory dishes are more fool-proof…
    Joey – I've dreamed so long of having a butcher who knows meat. The true test is when you ask them about "hanger steak" and you don't get a blank look on their faces 🙂

  13. I saw the TV show where Nigella nade this – I am about to give it a go – on the show she didn't use mustard powder – she used Hot English Mustard paste out of a jar.

  14. I must be the only one – I thought this was fine, but the lemon being left while roasting gave everything a bitter, pithy taste. Ugh. I love the idea, love chicken + sausage + sage, but will try again without the lemon.

  15. Hi Christy – I'm sorry the lemon did not work for you. I was dubious about putting it in too in case it gets burned but it worked out pretty well and I believe it added a dimension to the flavor. But I think trying it without the lemon will be just fine. I'm glad you tried the recipe :), I'm about to prepare it again for some friends.

  16. I think why people have a problem with Nigella's baking recipes is because they are changed directly from metric measurements to American measurements and not retested. I have the same problems with books that are originally American and tranlated to metric for Europe.

  17. It's all about the SAGE! The fresh sage was the delight of this recipe. I snipped it with my scissors, almost felt like I was Nigella! I also enjoyed the taste of the carmelized lemon with chicken bites. Easy to make and delicious. Great meal on a cold Montreal night!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s