What’s cooking today: Chicken & potato tray bake

What’s cooking today: Chicken & potato tray bake
Tony Jackman’s chicken and potato tray bake. (Photo: Tony Jackman)

There’s a particular succulence and crispiness to chicken when it’s been baked in a tray in the oven. It even self-sauces in a way, especially if you throw in some onions, garlic and whatnot. Perfect fare for a simple but delicious supper.

Much as I love cooking, and grateful as I am that I get paid to write about my hobby, there are evenings when I’d rather fling everything into one pot, bung it in the oven, and put my feet up in front of the fire while it cooks itself. And that’s where a good ol’ chicken tray bake comes in…

(Serves 4)


8 chicken portions (thighs, drumsticks and/or breasts cut in half through the middle)

2 large red onions, quartered

4 garlic cloves, sliced

8 oregano sprigs

8 thyme sprigs

4 Tbsp olive oil and more for the pan

1 Tbsp smoked paprika

Juice and finely grated zest of 1 lemon

2 Tbsp brown sugar

Salt and black pepper to taste

4 potatoes, peeled and quartered


Preheat the oven to 220℃.

First, peel and quarter the potatoes. In a suitable bowl, mix together the olive oil, salt, pepper, smoked paprika, lemon juice and zest, and brown sugar. Toss the potato quarters in this. Remove the potatoes with a slotted spoon and toss the chicken pieces in the same baste.

This requires a really big oven dish, but I find that if you squeeze the quarters of onion between the chicken portions they fit in quite easily and also help to flavour the chicken they’re right next to. Ditto garlic slivers. It’s all about proximity: push sprigs of herbs in between the portions too. All of the flavours and juices will work together to make that chicken taste sublime.

Oil the bottom of the pan with olive oil and place the chicken pieces in the centre of the dish, side by side.

Push the potato and onion quarters, garlic slivers and the sprigs of herbs between the portions.

Give the pan a good shake so that everything settles down nicely for the cook. Pop it into the hot oven and bake for at least 45 minutes. The chicken needs to be nicely browned, the skin crisp, and the potatoes tender. Toss the potatoes around now and then while cooking. It might take longer, even as much as an hour. All ovens, as I often say, are different. DM/TGIFood 

To enquire about Tony Jackman’s book, foodSTUFF (Human & Rousseau) please email him at [email protected] 

SUBSCRIBE: Our Thank God It’s Food newsletter is sent to subscribers every Friday at 6pm, and published on the TGIFood platform on Daily Maverick. It’s all about great reads on the themes of food and life. Subscribe here.


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Pet Bug says:

    My kind of dish, thank you!
    But I just can’t add sugar, let alone so much, to my food.
    Is it really necessary?
    Adds Sweetness, sure; crispy caramelized skin, definitely. What’s not to like?
    My doctor…
    Any suggestions how to get these characteristics without the sucrose?

    • Ockert Strydom says:

      I made this dish last night. Baie lekker. Substituted grapefruit for lemon, kept the lemon zest. Also added some sweet potato. Came out great.

  • Alison McKenna says:

    Delicious, Tony ~ what a gift. Thank you! I followed everything as you said, although I used a bag of baby potatoes (quartered and unpeeled) instead of the prescribed four big ones, and I included cubes of pumpkin which worked very well. Definitely one hour’s roasting. I was interested to read Ockert’s suggestion to use grapefruit juice instead of lemon ~ I think that would be really amazing.

Please peer review 3 community comments before your comment can be posted

Make your taxes work for you

Donate to Daily Maverick’s non-profit arm, the Scorpio Investigative Unit, by 29 February 2024 and you’ll qualify for a tax break.

We issue Section 18A tax certificates for all donations made to Daily Maverick. These can be presented to SARS for tax relief.

Make your donation today

Support Daily Maverick→
Payment options

Daily Maverick The Gathering 2024 banner

Daily Maverick has secured an esteemed speaker line-up...

to help make sense of Elections 2024.

Trevor Manuel, Prof Thuli Madonsela and Minister Ronald Lamola are among the latest panellists confirmed for Daily Maverick The Gathering Twenty Twenty-Four.

Join us, on Thurs 14 March 2024 at CTICC Cape Town or online wherever you are, for an event that will put the election in perspective.

Become a Maverick Insider

This could have been a paywall

On another site this would have been a paywall. Maverick Insider keeps our content free for all.

Become an Insider