Nigella Lawson’s Chicken & Pea Traybake

April 11, 2018

Test Kitchen-Approved

Author Notes: Nigella Lawson—domestic goddess and champion of home cooks—has for years been a supporter of the laziest form of sheet pan dinner, or traybake. The most influential ingredient here is frozen peas—quite a lot of them, still completely frozen. As she explains, “The steam they produce as they bake makes the chicken beautifully tender, its skin crackly and crisp on top.” Adapted slightly from At My Table (Flatiron Books, 2018). To read the whole story, head here.Genius Recipes

Serves: 4
Prep time: 30 min
Cook time: 1 hrs 30 min

Ingredients

  • 7 cups frozen petit pois (about 2 pounds)
  • 5 medium to large leeks (about 14 ounces trimmed weight), cut into 1-inch slices (note: if the light green part of the leek looks dirty in between the outer rings, remove the outermost layers and rinse them well)
  • 2 fat cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1/4 cup dry white vermouth
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt flakes or kosher salt, plus more for sprinkling
  • 1 small bunch dill, torn into pieces
  • 8 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
  • To serve: steamed or boiled baby potatoes, mashed potatoes, or rice or other grains (optional)
In This Recipe

Directions

  1. Heat the oven to 400° F and clatter the frozen peas into a large roasting pan (Nigella says not to go smaller—measuring inside from inside rim to inside rim—than about 15 by 11 inches, and a little larger is fine), followed by the leeks, garlic, vermouth, 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, 2 teaspoons of salt, and most of the dill. Turn everything together in the pan—breaking up any large clumps of the frozen peas—until well mixed. I advise you to wear CSI gloves for this, just to stop you from getting frostbite, though you still will feel the cold.
  2. Arrange the chicken thighs, skin-side up, on top, then drizzle them with a little olive oil and give them a good sprinkling of salt, before roasting in the oven for 45 minutes. Remove from the oven, give the peas a small stir or tamp down, so that the few that are sitting on the surface and drying out a little are submerged in the liquid. Don’t so the same to the leeks, however, as the bits that are peeking out will become desirably caramelized in the heat. Put back in the oven for a further 30 minutes, by which time the peas and leeks will be soft, and the chicken tender and cooked through, its skin golden and crisp.
  3. Tear off the remaining dill fronds, and scatter over the top on serving, perhaps with some simply steamed baby potatoes to soak up the pea and chicken juices.

More Great Recipes:
Casserole/Gratin|British|Dill|Leek|Pea|Vermouth|Chicken Thigh|Chicken|Sheet Pan|Bake|One-Pot Wonders|Weekend Cooking

Reviews (52) Questions (4)

52 Reviews

CFrance March 11, 2019
Whenever I see a direction to put things in a pan, add oil, and toss together to coat, I put everything in a bowl instead. It's so much easier to stir things in a bowl than on a flat pan, and I think you get better coverage. Then take a rubber spatula and scrape everything onto the sheet pan.
 
DCThunder March 3, 2019
Nigella advises not to use a smaller sheet pan than 15 x 11. Do you know why? Living alone, I'd love to make this recipe but I'd prefer to halve the number of thighs and peas and use a 8 x 12 sheet pan. Any reason I couldn't do this?
 
Kristen M. March 4, 2019
She just doesn't want the pan too crowded for these amounts, but feel free to adjust the amounts (and pan) to suit your needs!
 
Staci February 24, 2019
I made this recipe once to rave reviews. I am planning to make again for a family birthday dinner next weekend for folks who hate dark meat. If I make this recipe with bone-in chicken breasts (split) instead of thighs how much extra time should I add? Any other adjustments to make?
 
Kristen M. February 25, 2019
Hi Staci—breasts will actually likely take less time to cook through and are much more prone to drying out than thighs, so I would check them as early as 30-40 minutes, depending on size, to see how close to done they're getting. (When done, they should be 165F with an instant read thermometer in the thickest part, and if you cut in to peek, the meat should be firm and white but still juicy, not pink or squishy.) If the breasts are done before the peas and leeks have cooked to your liking, you can just pull the chicken off and tent it with foil to keep it warm and keep cooking the veg. And if the breasts are done before the skin is browned, try broiling them (with a watchful eye). Good luck!
 
Lisa J. January 22, 2019
Thank you for the delicious recipe. I saw the preparation on your cooking show and you served it to your family....very inspiring indeed...so...My family arrived home from London and I had prepared this delicious dinner. I did add some no salt chicken broth only because I had just a bit of vermouth....but I was happy to bake all in one container. So delicious....just like on the show.
 
Olivia January 15, 2019
This was good but it wasn't a game changer. I'll make it again because it was easy and relatively quick and healthy for a weeknight. The dish would welcome a creamy component- maybe a dill yogurt sauce or some goat cheese? I'll try that next time.
 
Cathy L. January 13, 2019
This was delicious! Per all of the comments of being bland I salt and peppered the skin on the thighs andI used white wine instead of vermouth. I also didn't have enough leeks so I added 2 shallots divided into quarters.
 
Martha January 6, 2019
Edible but not memorable. It will not be making it into the rotation. Still looking for a tray bake worth repeating.
 
donnalaveran March 12, 2019
Try Melissa Clark's harissa chicken with leeks, potatoes & yogurt - so delicious & beautiful too!
 
Lisa January 4, 2019
After reading some of comments, I got a little hesitated to cook this. But decided to give a try. I prepared chicken thigh based on an article on Food52 by Karen Palmer. Pat dry chicken thigh and well salted. Then fried them in my Creuset Dutch Oven: 8 min skin side down, then 4 min the other side along with sliced mushroom, pearled onions, then take out chicken thighs, followed the rest of recipe without leek (don’t have it). Chicken broth instead of wine. Added cubed potatoes. 1 hour in oven, complete meal is done. Crispy tender chicken thigh, sweet peas and potatoes. So delicious. Not at all bland.
 
NYanne December 29, 2018
I made this last night for 2 people. Cut recipe in half. Peas were mostly over cooked and crunchy. Chicken was great. The peas, not so good. Leeks were okay. Not sure I would make it again.
 
TKT December 26, 2018
Bland and unpleasant. I'm an experienced cook; followed the recipe. Don't know what else to say.
 
Caurisse S. June 25, 2018
I dont do alcohol of any kind. What can I use to substitute the vermouth?
 
Denise June 25, 2018
Chicken broth with a squeeze of lemon juice.
 
Danuta G. June 10, 2018
Oh dear...I seem to be in the minority here, as I was very disappointed with the results. After watching that specific episode of Nigella's At My Table, I thought this would be a great Friday night dinner...easy and tasty. Followed the recipe, except I added chopped carrots for a little more colour. The chicken thighs were great (crispy skin and lots of flavour), but I guess I'm just not a fan of frozen peas (even though I bought a quality brand). They were stodgy and had an off-putting flavour (could it have been the vermouth?). Hubby and I soldiered through the meal, but we both decided this one wasn't for us, even though we've enjoyed Nigella's recipes before.
 
Phildup May 23, 2018
Advice first...Be sure you pan is deep enough! there was a surprising amount of liquid produced.

I did this recipe for my monthly dinner with my sisters. One is a bigger food snob than I am and the other is an old fashioned meat and potatoes girl. Solid home run for both of them! Moist chicken, satisfyingly complex broth, crisp skin.

I was concerned that the peas would be mush, but they weren't. They were soft but with a touch of tooth left. I thought the Leeks would burn, but the were a bit caramelized and a touch seared.

Best of all is that the Skin on the thighs Was crisp! Even though there was a tremendous amount of liquid in the pan.

Since I'm not a fan of dill, I used a Tuscan herb mixture.

In rotation for riskless cooking.
 
Jst123 May 10, 2018
I was considering making this with salmon...I'd roast the peas, leeks and add artichokes for the first 25 minutes and put salmon filets on for the last 15. Any thoughts?
 
Ciao B. June 6, 2018
That's a great idea. Maybe when you put the salmon fillets on, place them skin side up (oiled and salted) and then, at the very end, set your oven on the broiler setting to crisp the salmon skin. Or, you could pre-sear your salmon for a few minutes in a non-stick skillet (skin-side down) and then add it skin-side up to the roast pan for the last 15 minutes. Basic idea is to get the salmon skin really crispy without overcooking the salmon meat which cooks faster than chicken meat.

I'm going to try this next time I do this recipe. :)
 
Lois April 25, 2018
So bland! I made the full recipe as written, thinking it would make good leftovers, and we didn't want to look at it again it was so tasteless (and we're not that picky!). At least I repurposed the chicken into chicken salad for a few lunches, and the pea/leek mixture became a side dish another night. I am a fan on one-tray dishes, but I would stay away from this one.
 
Sian D. April 22, 2018
I made this last night with a quartered fennel bulb, carrot chunks and halved brussels sprouts instead of the leeks (and white wine instead of vermouth - just what I had at home) - it was superb!
 
Pamela April 18, 2018
Just made this with 4 chicken thighs, 1 small packet of frozen peas and half of the original quantities in a pyrex dish that was 11" x 8". I let it cook at 400 for about an hour and it was absolutely gloriously delicious! Wow, I am so impressed with myself, haha, most especially I am impressed with Nigella the Queen! Fantastic recipe, I would make this for a dinner party also. 5 stars.
 
towanda April 16, 2018
Can we substitute frozen greenbeans for the peas?
 
Elizabeth S. April 17, 2018
you can substitute many different vegetables. I did a combination of brussell sprouts and peas. The thighs need a good hour to cook so use a vegetable that can take an hour in the oven without losing all flavor. The leaks, peas, sprouts all worked for me. A thinner green vegetable like kale would not as it needs only about 10 minutes to roast.
 
Bryna L. April 15, 2018
I haven't tried this yet (I will) but i don't see how peas cooked for an hour and 15 minutes can be good..... do they become something new?
 
Melissa H. April 16, 2018
Oh yes, the peas develop a rich complex flavor that is different than any other pea recipe I've made.
 
Margot M. April 14, 2018
Made this the other night. It was delicious. I tossed some postage-stamp-sized pieces of thick sliced applewood smoked bacon into the peas and leeks before the first bake. Second night I crisped the chicken thighs under the broiler and added some sautéed mushrooms and shallots to the peas before reheating. Another winner from Nigella. Can't wait to see her new book.