Mediterranean Chicken Stew

Quite honestly this could be called Mediterranean Hunter’s Stew as rabbit would work just as well, almost better perhaps, in terms of authentic-ness. These hearty tomato based dishes are fabulous and with the very average weather we are having here, just the job.

This one is adapted from a Jamie Oliver recipe which features in his book: Jamie’s Italy. But the basis of it can be found in any substantial book on Italian food or French for that matter. On the subject of Jamie Oliver, I am a fan of his recipes, preferring the earlier stuff (The Naked Chef) and the travel writing. He feels as bit overexposed to me at the moment, but I love his energy and the endless stream of ideas that he acts upon.

Serves 6

2 kg of Chicken pieces, preferably on the bone and skin on, Salt and Pepper, 8 Bay Leaves, 2 Sprigs of Rosemary, 2 Cloves of Garlic, peeled, ½ bottle of Italian, French or Spanish Red Wine, Flour, Olive Oil, 6 Anchovy Fillets, a tin of Fragata Lemon Stuffed Olives, 2 tins of Tomatoes ultimately chopped, zest of a Lemon, 2 small or 1 large Fennel Bulb, sliced, 5-10g dried Porcini Mushrooms, soaked for 20 minutes in boiling water.

OK, so a least an hour before you plan to start cooking this marinate the meat in a large bowl with the wine, seasoning, bay leaves, rosemary and garlic. Cover and pop in the fridge.

  • Preheat the oven to 180°C/Fan 160-165°C. Drain the chicken, retain the marinade, and pat dry with kitchen paper. Place on a plate and sprinkle with flour to absorb any residual liquid.
  • In a large casserole (Le Crueset) add 2-3 tbsp of Oil and fry off the meat pieces, a few at a time, over a moderate heat until lightly browned on the surface all over, transfer to a new plate before adding the next batch to the pan.
  • Once all the pieces are browned add a little more oil to the casserole and gently fry the fennel slices for a minute or two and then once they are tinged brown at the edges, return the meat pieces  to the casserole along with the marinade, anchovy fillets, olives, tomatoes, and the soaked but drained porcini mushrooms.
  • Bake in the oven for 1 ½ hours for the chicken, but if you are adventurous enough to try rabbit it may take up to 2 hours.
  • When you think you are nearly done, remove from the oven, skim off any fat and remove the bay leaves and rosemary sprigs. Then check the seasoning and add the lemon zest. Return to the oven for 5 more minutes.

Serve with bread and salad, beans or Jacket potatoes. Yummy.

Fragata Olives are the tins of olives from Spain which are readily available in supermarkets, but any olives will do, a good handful.

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