Recently at work I was up to my elbows in depressing statistics about New Zealanders' lack of cooking skills and food knowledge. The research showed, among other things, that young people couldn't tell the difference between a zucchini and a cucumber, had no idea where pumpkins came from and mostly ate alone, accompanied by a mobile phone, computer or TV.
I was appalled by this - and thankfully so are lots of our readers, who are all now contributing their own recipes in a bid to 'get New Zealand cooking'.
Even so, I've got a strong hunch that the re-imagining (via reality TV) of food and cooking as entertainment has made a lot of people think that cooking is a hard task best left to the experts. When, really, anyone can do it. At least, anyone can make this easy chicken dinner. If there's someone a bit oven-shy in your household, let them loose on this.
The easiest chicken dinner ever TM
Only the most rudimentary cooking skills are required for this dish - if you can turn on an oven, open a tin and do a bit of light chopping, you'll be able to manage it with ease. This can be varied to suit your supplies and your palate. Suggested additions include a bit of chopped streaky bacon and some capers, or chopped sundried tomatoes.
For four people:
2 Tbsp olive oil
8 large boneless, skinless chicken thighs
2 red onions, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
a sprig or two of fresh rosemary, thyme or oregano, if you have it
1 cup black olives, stoned
1 400ml tin of chopped Italian tomatoes (I've used a tin of cherry tomatoes in the dish pictured)
a splash of wine
Heat the oven to 180C. Drizzle the olive oil over the bottom of an ovenproof dish big enough to take the chicken in one layer. Sprinkle over the onion and garlic then put the chicken on top. Scatter over the herbs, if using, and olives, then pour over the tin of tomatoes and a splash (about 100ml) of wine. Bake for 35-40 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through. Add a splash of wine during the cooking if the sauce looks a bit dry. Serve with crusty bread or couscous.
What advice do you give people who are scared of cooking?