If there was anyone I’d be happy to share my kitchen with, I think it would be Rachel Roddy. Since my kitchen is tiny, with barely room for one person, let alone two, this would be quite a step.
But Roddy seems to be someone who is completely happy to work in a small, spartan space, with no swanky kit or islands, someone who likes simple and short recipes and someone who really doesn’t expect you to have half of Borough Market and several days to hand in order to make some lovely food. Her two books are full of things I want to cook and places I want to visit.
And, though I know very little about Italian food, and am no chef, she somehow makes me feel, in a very straightforward way, that everything she cooks is achievable, even without access to the fantastic vegetables any Italian on market day takes for granted.
This, for example, contains eight ingredients, and most of them you may already have. All I needed to make it was some chicken. There is no peeling of vegetables, the merest of chopping of garlic, and the oven does most of the work. And, yet, despite its simplicity, I felt like I’d been given a cooking technique, and a recipe, that I can adapt and make my own. Perhaps some lemon next time for this, or beans in the winter instead of potato. Or maybe use sausages, instead of the chicken, then add sage instead of oregano/rosemary.
It ticks all my favourite boxes: one-pot; takes about an hour start to finish; short shopping list; no complicated kit required, suitable for weekdays or weekends. And it adapts, as I have already found out. So though she suggests making it with a whole, jointed chicken, I was short on time so used chicken thighs (not the fillets, but the skin-on, bone-in proper ones); both rosemary and oregano are possibilities and I used oregano; finally, she uses a shallow, two-handled pan which I don’t have so I used my shallowest ovenproof frying pan; I think it would be fine in a roasting tin too. It’s rare that I feel so enabled by just one recipe, or so sure that it will be repeated. Do try it; it’s one for the list.
Chicken with potatoes, anchovies and oregano
Enough for 4 (or two with leftovers for lunch)
Cupboard (or things you may already have)
olive oil, 4 tbsp
garlic, 2 cloves
salt and freshly ground black pepper
chicken thighs, skin-on bone-in, 8
anchovy fillets, 6
fresh oregano or rosemary, a sprig, or a pinch of dried oregano
pinch of dried red chilli flakes (optional)
white wine, 250ml (or use water)
1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan-assisted/gas 6.
2. Put the olive oil in a wide, shallow pan (ideally one that can hold the potatoes and chicken in one layer, or near enough: I did it in two layers and it was fine) over a medium heat, then add the chicken thighs and brown them all over.
3. Whilst the chicken is browning, cut the potatoes into wedges about 1.5cm or so and peel and crush/finely chop the garlic.
4. Once the chicken is browned on all sides, remove it from the pan, lower the heat and add the garlic and anchovies, With a bit of gentle stirring, the anchovies will dissolve into the oil. Now add the oregano and chilli flakes then the potatoes and stir until the potatoes are coated with oil.
5. Return the chicken to the pan, add the wine/water, season with salt and pepper then leave to bubble over a medium heat for about 10 minutes. Then put it in the oven (no lid required) for about 40 mins, basting the chicken with the liquid every 15 minutes or so. If, like me, you have used a frying pan, use an oven glove for the handle when you take it out!
All you need with this is a green salad.