Food is about so much more than mere nutrition. There’s a reason that we celebrate special occasions with food: Christmas, Easter, birthdays and new arrivals. And there’s a reason why we have the phrase comfort food too, for the times when it brings nurturing and solace.
Several years ago, when one of our sons became acutely unwell and was hospitalised, my friend Trish, arrived on the doorstep bearing cookies and quiche. That gift was so much more significant than she knew. Each time I packed a school lunch or heated some quiche I received her clear message that we were not in this alone.
Chicken Cacciatore is the meal I make for families who are having a difficult time. It doesn’t change their sadness or make anything better, but it is a way of letting them know that we are holding them in our thoughts and in our hearts. This is a one-pot wonder, needing nothing but a chunk of bread. It can also be stretched to feed a crowd by adding pasta or gnocchi and a salad.
Gather the ingredients together. Cut the chicken thigh fillets into quarters. You can substitute chicken breasts if you prefer. When making for our family, I use chicken on the bone which gives a fuller flavour – just extend the cooking time by 30 minutes
Chop the onion, celery and carrot and finely dice the garlic.
Heat oil in a large pan and cook the chicken in batches until browned. Remove from pot.
Add the onion, carrot, celery and garlic, stirring until soft. Add the rosemary and oregano and cook for a minute until fragrant. Stir in the wine and deglaze the pan.
Add the undrained tomatoes, tomato paste, stock, anchovies and vinegar to the pot.
Return chicken to the pot and bring to the boil. pop on lid and simmer for 20 minutes.
Add mushrooms and zucchini and simmer uncovered for 10 minutes, until sauce has thickened.
Add the spinach, capers and olives. Check seasoning, adding salt and pepper to taste.
If storing for later use, cool completely, then place in container in refrigerator. NB – try using glass containers to store and reheat, much nicer than plastic and better for your health!
Serve with rice, pasta, gnocchi, mashed potato or just on it’s own with some salad and bread
- 1 kg chicken thigh fillets, cut into quarters
- 1 large brown onion, finely diced
- 1 stick celery, finely diced
- 1 small carrot, finely diced
- ½ cup white wine
- 2 tbs wine vinegar (red or white)
- 1 400g tin of diced tomatoes
- ½ cup chicken stock
- 3 tbs tomato paste
- 2 anchovy fillets
- 2 sprigs rosemary, leaves removed and coarsely chopped
- 2 tsp dried oregano
- 100g baby spinach leaves
- 200g mushrooms, quartered or thickly sliced
- 1 zucchini, halved lengthways and sliced
- 2 tsp capers
- ½ cup black olives, pips removed
- ½ cup Italian parley, roughly chopped
- olive oil for frying
- salt and pepper, to taste
- Add oil to a large pot and heat. Cook chicken in batches until browned. Remove from the pot.
- Add a little more oil and cook onion, celery, carrot and garlic, stirring until softened, about 3 minutes. Add rosemary and oregano and cook for a further minute
- Pour in wine and deglaze the pan.
- Add vinegar, stock, tomato paste, undrained tomatoes,and anchovies. Stir to combine.
- Return chicken to the pot, bring to the boil, then pop on the lid and reduce heat, simmering for 20 minutes.
- Remove lid and add zucchini and mushrooms and simmer a further 10 minutes or until thickened.
- Stir through the spinach, olives and capers and check for seasoning.
- Sprinkle in parsley, and serve with pasta, gnocchi, potatoes or bread
Chicken on the bone can also be used. Please extend covered cooking time by 10 minutes