What’s easier than a one-tray bake?
For busy mums who want to avoid slaving at the stove (more time for baby!), here’s a hearty recipe that allows you to chuck the tray into your oven and go play with your baby. I serve the first half for baby’s lunch and keep the second portion for his dinner either in a Thermos food jar, or in the fridge to be reheated.
Since cooking for baby involves no salt or sugar, adding spices and lemon will ramp up the flavours and make your tastebuds ZING!
No chilli involved!
2 chicken drumsticks (preferably free range or Sakura chicken or probiotic-fed)
2 small purple sweet potatoes (red or Japanese is fine)
One small potato
Half a small eggplant
Florets of broccoli
3 cloves of garlic, lightly bashed
1 onion, quartered
Half a lemon
Virgin coconut oil or light olive oil
Basil or oregano, dried or fresh
Thyme, dried or fresh
Wash, peel and cut all the potatoes into cubes or a size your baby can handle. In a baking tray, add the onion, garlic, eggplant and broccoli, then lay the chicken drumsticks on top, with skin on.
Toss everything with a drizzle of oil, and coat well. Then add the spices.
Tip: You can be generous with paprika, basil and thyme, but go easy on the turmeric. It’s bitter. But it lends a lovely warm colour to this dish, and depth of flavour. Also, turmeric is healthy and has anti-inflammatory properties.
Zest half a lemon onto the chicken, and squeeze some of the juice onto the meat. Rub the oil, spice, and lemon mixture into the chicken with your hands.
Now, remove the eggplant and broccoli from the tray and set aside.
Then rearrange all the veg into a single layer to cook evenly, and let the chicken sit on top.
Tip: If you have time, let the marinade sit on the chicken and veg for a while. If you don’t have time, it doesn’t matter. It will still taste good, which is the beauty of this one tray bake.
Chuck the tray into the oven for 45min. Turn the chicken halfway through the cooking time. If the veg looks dry or it’s burning up, add a splash of water. Cool or hot water is fine. I like my veg moist (as opposed to crispy on the outside) so I always add water halfway through the cooking time. This is a nice little tip from Jamie Oliver.
Add the eggplant and broccoli back to the tray for the last 10min of cooking. It takes less time for these veg to cook, so you don’t want to burn them.
I disovered this wonderful (and easy) way of cooking broccoli by trying it out. I used to steam broccoli all the time. Baking broccoli makes it taste like the Mediterranean way of grilling veg; it’s beautiful.
When the meal is done in the oven, stab the chicken with a fork and check if the juices run clear. If so, the chicken is cooked. If the juices are pink, chuck it back into the oven for 5 min more.
Tip: But if you need to cook the chicken further, don’t forget to remove the broccoli and eggplant from the tray first – cos 10min of cooking is about all they can bear!
When done, leave the tray of food to cool.
Tip: This also allows the chicken to rest – this means you give the meat time to re-absorb the juices and makes for tender, juicy meat. Otherwise when you bite or cut into the meat, most of the juices will flow out.