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What’s cooking today: Funky Parmesan chicken tray bak...



What’s cooking today: Funky Parmesan chicken tray bake

Tony Jackman’s chicken tray bake with baby gem squash, broccoli and Parmesan. (Photo: Tony Jackman)

There are some funky spice products on the market these days, and I’m a fan. And a generous grating of Parmesan can give an ordinary weeknight tray bake a lift.

It was when we were living in West Sussex that chicken tray bakes became a regular part of our family supper routine. In the first year especially, money was tight and chicken portions were cheap, especially if you knew where to shop. I’d go to the Saturday vegetable market in a massive parking lot in Chichester every week and take advantage of one stallholder’s “pound for a pound” – £1 for 1 lb worth of vegetables, a big box stuffed with potatoes, onions, a cabbage, a cauliflower, carrots, beetroot, spinach, lettuce, tomatoes, celery, turnips, peppers, leeks, radishes and more. They didn’t weigh it, just kept shoving stuff in until the box was full to overflowing and wished you a nice day. Those were our vegetables for the week ahead. For £1!

They never had gem squash though. A request would be met with blank stares and eventually, “Oh, you mean gourds?” Sigh. Anyway, we can even get baby gems these days, and they’re a perfect ingredient for a tray bake.

I say “tray bake” but what I use is one half of a deep stainless steel roaster, but not the top half. It needs to be open to the hot oven air while baking.


⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil

8 chicken thighs, bone in, skin on

8 baby gem squash, halved

1 small head of broccoli, broken into florets, core removed

1 red onion, sliced into wedges

4 Tbsp African Rub by Funky Ouma

Salt and black pepper to taste

Grated Parmesan


Preheat the oven to 220℃ or higher. A chicken tray bake can take a lot of heat.

Pour half of the oil into a deep, large oven roaster. Add the chicken thighs and toss them in the oil on both sides. Halve the baby gem squash and place them between the chicken portions. Push broccoli florets in between. Cut the red onion into wedges and shove them in every gap. If there aren’t any gaps, force them in. There’s always room if you’re insistent. (Think of your younger self elbowing your way past the bouncers into a nightclub. You did that, right?)

Salt generously, ditto with ground black pepper. Finally, sprinkle generously with Funky Ouma’s African Rub or another of the brand’s very cool spice mixes (nope, I bought my own), and drizzle the rest of the olive oil all over.

Bake uncovered in the preheated oven for a good hour, opening the door and shaking the pan vigorously every 20 minutes or so to ensure even cooking and that nothing sticks to the bottom of the pan. Pierce a thigh or two with a skewer, press down on the thigh, and if juices run clear and not pink, it’s done. Grate Parmesan over 10 minutes before it’s ready to serve, and grate more over when serving, as generously as you like. DM/TGIFood

Tony Jackman is Galliova Food Champion 2021. His book, foodSTUFF, is available in the DM Shop. Buy it here

Follow Tony Jackman on Instagram @tony_jackman_cooks. Share your versions of his recipes with him on Instagram and he’ll see them and respond.

SUBSCRIBE to TGIFood here. Also visit the TGIFood platform, a repository of all of our food writing. 


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