Tray Baked Potatoes and Chicken from Bethlehem: Beautiful Resistance Recipes

tray baked potatoes and chicken, one dish meal, chicken dinner, weeknight meal

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Sometimes the simplest recipes are the best.  That doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy spending the day in the kitchen putting together a complicated menu but I can’t do that everyday. For most meals I’m looking for something easy, delicious and if it doesn’t use a lot of pans all the better. I knew I had found a winner when looking through a new cookbook sent to me at no charge for my honest review by the Independent Publishers Group. Bethlehem: Beautiful Resistance Recipes by Dr. Abdelfattah Abusrour and Manal Odeh offers a taste of the Middle East.  Tray Baked Potatoes and Chicken looked like the perfect meal for an easy weeknight meal. I mean who doesn’t love a one dish dinner? The recipe will follow after my thoughts on the cookbook.

Bethlehem Beautiful Resistance Recipes

About Bethlehem: Beautiful Resistance Recipes

The beautifully spiced “upside-down” dish, Maqlouba, and rosewater-scented ma’moul date cookies are just some of the perfect dinner party recipes in Bethlehem that have been handed down through generations of Palestinians. From healthy, warming soups to mouth-watering, syrupy “helwa” sweets, the authors have gathered recipes and interviews from the residents of Aida refugee camp, Bethlehem to give the reader a glimpse into daily life there as Palestinian land and culture is being rapidly eroded. This beautiful cookbook features the well-loved Palestinian recipes for breads and pastries; meze salads and dips, vegetable dishes and a range of interesting ways to cook and stuff leaves such as vine and mallow leaves. Includes metric measures.


About the Authors:

Dr Abdelfattah Abusrour was born and raised in Aida camp. He and a group of friends established Alrowwad in Aida camp, Bethlehem. He is also lecturer at Bethlehem University, actor, playwright, and artist. Manal Odeh runs the women’s unit in Alrowwad center and is a math teacher.

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My Opinion:

This is a cookbook that also tells a story. Several stories as a matter of fact – the stories of the grandmothers and other women who are sharing the recipes that have been handed down for generations or created out of need.  The meals are heady with cardamom, allspice, coriander and other spices so often a part of Middle Eastern Cooking. Some of the recipes are simple such as the Tray Baked Potatoes and Chicken while others are more involved.

I enjoyed my first look through the book and in my second I found several recipes that will soon find their way to my table. The biggest issue I have with the book is that is it fully metric with no conversions for the US market. Fortunately it’s much simpler now to make those conversions with the advent of computers in the kitchen. But still it’s a mild annoyance.

The book breaks down as most do with sections for soups, breads and pastries, salads but it diverts when it offers recipes for Leaves and Herbs and Semolina and Syrups among others. There is also a section for pickles and jam.

It is an unique cookbook to add to anyone’s library.



tray baked potatoes and chicken, one dish meal, chicken dinner, weeknight meal


Tray Baked Potatoes and Chicken

Serves 4

2 boneless, skinless chicken thighs

3 medium potatoes

1 medium onion

3 garlic cloves

1 zucchini

1/2 tsp ground allspice

1 tsp ground coriander

1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1 tsp salt

2 tsp olive oil

Preheat oven to 350°

tray baked potatoes and chicken, one dish meal, chicken dinner, weeknight meal

Cut the chicken thighs into large pieces.

Trim and cut the zucchini into about 1/2″ dice

Roughly chop the onion and garlic

Peel and chop the potatoes into about 1/2″ dice

Add all of the ingredients to a large, rimmed baking tray. (All of my baking trays were in the freezer. I am currently chopping and freezing onions for use all year. Therefore I used a baking pan. I suspect with the baking tray/sheet this meal with have some really nice caramelization.)

Sprinkle the allspice, coriander, salt and pepper over top.

tray baked potatoes and chicken, one dish meal, chicken dinner, weeknight meal

Drizzle with the olive oil and mix the ingredients until the oil and spices are distributed.

tray baked potatoes and chicken, one dish meal, chicken dinner, weeknight meal

Cover the pan with foil and bake in the preheated oven for about 1 1/2 hours. Check at 1 hour. You are looking for soft potatoes and fully cooked chicken.

How Was the Tray Baked Potatoes and Chicken?

It was seriously delicious. The addition of the allspice and coriander made for a meal that smelled heavenly while it was cooking and had a taste that was different from what we usually eat. The original recipe in the book called for either garlic OR onions (?!) but I used both as you can see and I added the zucchini ’cause this time of year every dinner has zucchini.

tray baked potatoes and chicken, one dish meal, chicken dinner, weeknight meal

I served the meal with some freshly baked Challah bread and trust me I understand the irony of serving a Jewish bread with a Palestinian dish. The chicken was very tender, the potatoes and zucchini absorbed all of the yummy juices and spices and it made for a truly delicious dinner.

I will note that when we had the leftovers the second night – they were good but not as good as the first night. For whatever reason the flavors didn’t build like some meals do when they sit. They actually rather diminished so I would say that this is best eaten on the night it is made.

Questions? Comments? Leave them HERE


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