Ah the one pot wonder. Such a salve on weeknight stress for its ease of preparation and clean up. When reaching for such a sense of ease, Donna Hay is right up there. At these heights we find roasted chicken on a bed of lentils and leeks, with little tomatoes waiting to explode in bursts of concentrated flavour all in a chicken stock group hug, more than happy to share around the smoky pancetta and rosemary with everyone at the love in. For the man looking for an easy dinner plan, this has to be another winner, winner, chicken dinner.
Vegetable oil (I used canola)
8 x 200g chicken thighs, bone in, skin on, trimmed (I used boneless and skinless without issue)
Sea salt and cracked black pepper
2 leeks, trimmed and thinly sliced
150g pancetta, chopped
2 sprigs rosemary (I’ve used dried thyme with this before and found happiness)
1 x 400g can green lentils, drained and rinsed
250g cherry tomatoes
1 cup (250mls chicken stock)
1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves (can be omitted without issue)
Put the oven on to 200 degrees Celsius. Heat the oil in an ovenproof pan over a high heat (or if you’re like me with a big heavy enamel deal that comes with a manual full of instructions, use more oil on a low heat, but let it heat up for at least 3 minutes). Season the chicken with salt and pepper then stick it in the pan skin side down for 7 minutes, followed by 7 minutes on the other side. Remove from the pan and set aside.
Put the leeks, pancetta and rosemary into the pan and cook for 5 minutes. Try to avoid the temptation the aroma will give you to just stick your head into the pan and gobble the pancetta and leeks coated in chicken juicy goodness. Introduce the lentils, tomatoes and stock to the proceedings, and invite the chicken thighs (and the juices likely sitting in the bowl you let them rest in) to luxuriate on top of the whole deal. Then shove everything in the oven for 12 minutes.
Open the oven door to a world of happy smells and placated gentlewomen callers. This goes double if you don’t normally cook. To paraphrase Sean Connery in Finding Forrester: An unexpected gesture, at an unexpected time.