Chicken recipes for feeding lots of people

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At both Café @ All Saints and Michaelhouse Café the majority of our food is served from a counter. There’s a surprising amount in common between cooking for relaxed parties and cooking for a café where quite a lot of the food is served from a hot counter (as opposed to being cooked to order). In such situations you want to get most of the work done in advance and you want to be able to serve lots of people quickly at a time which is not known precisely in advance.

We’ve got two really lovely new chicken recipes which fit both these bills. If you’ve got 10, 20 or 40 people coming to lunch or supper and you want to give them something that is not stressful to cook but is extremely delicious to eat and works well for large numbers of people then these two recipes are perfect. But if you can’t be bothered to cook them yourself then come in and eat them at our cafes!

Not surprisingly they both use chicken thighs which I think are the tastiest part of the bird and certainly the bit which stands up to longer cooking and a longer period of post-cooking sitting around. We get all our chicken from the wonderful Tudge family (see previous blog post) but wherever you get yours from it will be much more delicious if the chickens have run around a bit and given those thighs some work to do.

Both recipes will fill your kitchen with wonderful smells as they cook.

Don’t forget that both recipes require the chicken to be marinated overnight.

Mustard and garlic roast chicken with potatoes, onions & thyme

Serves 10

2.5kg chicken thighs, bone in and skin on – this should be about 10 really good-sized thighs. You could also use whole chicken legs from a smaller chicken
200ml crème fraiche
15g salt
75ml (5 tbs) Dijon mustard
5 cloves garlic, crushed

750g large onions; quartered and thinly sliced
2 tbs olive oil
1kg large potatoes, halved and very thinly sliced – no need to peel
4 sprigs thyme, the leaves pulled from the branches

  1. Mix all the marinade ingredients to together and slather over the chicken. Leave in the fridge overnight.
  2. Sweat the onions in the olive oil with some salt and the fresh thyme.
  3. When the onions are very soft add the thinly sliced potatoes and cook for a further couple of minutes. Then divide the onion/potato mix between the number of baking dishes you are going to use.
  4. Arrange the chicken in its marinade on top of the veg, skin side up. The chicken pieces should be snug up against one another but not overlapping.
  5. Put in the oven at 180C for about 1½ hours . The skin should be crackly brown and the meat will cooked. Check that the potato is tender.

 Roast chicken with chorizo, aubergine and peppers

I’ve had lots of versions of this kind of dish, but what I like about my version is that rather making a casserole with bits of chicken in it which disintegrate over time, in this case they chicken (which has marinated overnight in the tomato/chorizo sauce) then roasts on top of the ratatouille type mixture thus giving two bonuses: the chicken skin is roasted and crisp and the vegetable mixture underneath is drenched in the lovely chicken juices. Win/win.

Serve it with some plain basmati rice.

Serves 10

50ml olive oil
500g onions, roughly chopped
125g cooking chorizo, finely diced
2 x 450g tins plum tomatoes – whizzed with blender
10g salt (this might seem a lot, but chicken needs plenty of salt)

2.5kg chicken thighs, bone in and skin on – this should be about 10 really good-sized thighs. You could also use whole chicken legs from a smaller chicken

1kg aubergine, diced
1kg peppers mixture of red and yellow (not green) in fat strips
50ml olive oil for roasting the veg

1 bunch fresh coriander, for garnish

Sweat the onions in a little olive oil and some salt. After a few minutes add the chopped chorizo. Once the onions are soft add the whizzed tomatoes. Then turn down to a low simmer and cook for at least 30 minutes. Check the seasoning (bearing in mind that the chicken will not be separately seasoned) and leave to cool.

Marinate the chicken in the sauce over night.

The next day roast the peppers & aubergines until tender and beginning to colour.

Remove the chicken from the sauce where it has been sitting overnight. Mix the sauce with the roast veg.

Divide the veg/sauce mixture between the bake dishes and put the chicken on top skin-side up. Cook at 200C for one hour + until the chicken flesh is thoroughly cooked and the skin is browned and crisp.

Serve with plain rice, garnished with the freshly chopped coriander.