One-pan chicken and sausage builds community

Amy Drew Thompson
Orlando Sentinel (TNS)

This Nigella Lawson dish is a one-pan delight for the tempest-tossed

I’ve been wanting to feature this recipe for some time now, as it’s pretty much perfect.

It has few ingredients. It requires one pan that can double as a serving dish. Prep, which can be done up to two days in advance or right before cooking, is virtually zero-mess. It smells fabulous. It looks gorgeous. It will lock in your rep as a slayer in the kitchen who gets it done, even on the busiest days.

And now that I’ve made it for Austin Fuller and Anne Simpson, I can add that it’s also a great choice to help stressed friends decompress.

Fuller is my colleague. A business reporter for the Orlando Sentinel, he, too, covers restaurants and we chat about our beats and food in general quite often. He likes lemon-blueberry combinations. He loves fried chicken. He texted a dozen or so food pics during his recent vacation in New York City.

And so when he and his girlfriend were displaced from their apartment after Hurricane Ian flooded the place, like many of their friends, I asked what I could do to help.

At the moment, he said, they were covered — staying with friends and such — “but don’t be surprised if we hit you up for a hot meal at some point,” he said.

I wasn’t surprised they needed one.

Fuller had awakened around 4 a.m. on Sept. 29 and wet his feet when they hit the bedroom floor.

“At that point, the entire unit had water in it,” he told me. “We weren’t sure how much deeper it would get as the rain was still coming down.”

Bailing proved an exercise in futility and the days that followed — during which both he and Simpson, a librarian, were still working — were “too chaotic and packed to adequately describe.”

But community emerged from the chaos.

“So many people reached out and offered to help that we didn’t really have to ask,” he says. “So many people were generous in offering places to stay, meals, money, to ship us stuff, or just to talk.”

And the value of those hot meals, at my place and others?

“It was nice to decompress with people we enjoy,” says Fuller. But he’s also pragmatic. “One can only eat so much fast food in so many days before longing for a home-cooked meal.”

Nigella’s dish — crisp chicken, bone-in and juicy, alongside snappy sausages, all beautifully browned — makes for a wonderful low-carb meal alongside green vegetables or a nice salad, all while bringing to life those traditional stuffing-like flavors of sage and onion. I always cut a couple in half to further infuse the meats with whatever yum those you choose are packing.

Generally I go mild or spicy Italian (depending on who’s coming) and have used a turkey version with success on more than one occasion. Next time I might try Lawson’s suggestion of heat-laden Spanish chorizo, which sounds scrumptious.

Unless you’re pointedly abstaining, this dish begs for carbs. I’ve served it with simple rice (I like it sticky), with crusty bread for that lemony jus and on this night for the first time, with olive oil-roasted potatoes, simply seasoned with salt, pepper and fresh sage and thyme. Orzo could be a great pairing, as well.

Simply put, this dish is a looker. Roast it in a pretty pan and it goes from oven to table like a culinary cover girl.

I hadn’t made it in quite some time and never before in my new place. In fact, they were kind of my first official dinner guests. As usual, Nigella’s recipe came through.

“I liked the lemon flavor,” Fuller told me, both on the night of the meal and afterward. “And you know I love a good chicken dish. We’ll be looking for the recipe to make it some time ourselves.”

Though at press time the pair were still floating — staying in the home of another co-worker who was out of town for the week — soon they’ll have a cute, new Baldwin Park flat in which to make the dish.

“We’re eating salads right now,” Fuller said with a chuckle. They’re trying to cleanse after a preponderance of displacement-induced fast food consumption, but the outpouring of support has been as comforting as french fries, reminding them that they’d surely land on their feet.

“We are going to be fine because of everyone who helped,” he said. “We are very grateful to everyone who helped in any way.”

It takes a village, goes the saying, and I feel lucky to be a part of one. Especially when I get to cook.

Supermodel on the plate. Use a pretty pan and you can just take it from oven to table. (Amy Drew Thompson/Orlando Sentinel/TNS)

ONE PAN SAGE AND ONION CHICKEN & SAUSAGE

Regarding the ingredients, I’ve been known to cheat juuuuust a little, using whatever mustard’s in the fridge — deli to Dijon. I generally use fewer sausages, as well (6-8) and cut a couple in half to let the flavors combine during the cook. Regardless of tweaks, this dish is always a crowd pleaser and you can find it here: nigella.com/recipes/one-pan-sage-and-onion-chicken-and-sausage.

Ingredients

  • 1 large onion
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons English mustard
  • 1 tablespoon dried sage
  • 1 lemon, cut into eighths
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 4 pounds chicken (jointed into 10 pieces)
  • 12 sausages
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage (or chives or watercress to serve)
  • Pepper

Instructions

Peel and cut the onion into eighths, and put into a freezer bag with the oil, mustard, dried sage, a good grinding of pepper and the Worcestershire sauce. Squeeze juice from lemon wedges into bag and toss them in. Squidge everything around to mix (the mustard needs help to combine) and then add the chicken pieces. Leave to marinate in the fridge overnight, or for up to two days.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Allow the chicken to come to room temperature in its marinade.

Arrange the chicken pieces in a deep roasting tin, skin-side up, with the marinade, including all the bits and pieces, and tuck the sausages around them. Sprinkle the fresh sage leaves over the chicken and sausages and then put the tin into the oven to cook for 1 hour and 15 minutes — though note that fan ovens may cook this more quickly, so do check after 1 hour. Turn the sausages over halfway through to color them evenly.

Arrange the chicken and sausages on a large platter.

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