Pollo alla Cacciatora

I would be lying if I would say we are cooking stews to match the cold outside. It isn’t cold at all. Yesterday we had 20C and today was a beautiful sunny day… I am guessing that all this has a lot to do with global warming, but as I am not keeping an environmental blog I won’t get too much into it.

Cold or not, we started our winter food tradition: stews and slow cooked meals. We are not yet at the height of winter food. We are taking it slowly with chicken stews and crumbles. Stews are quite a surprise. Little effort goes into them, yet so much taste and flavors are present at the end.

I love the smell of stews and the comfort they offer when eaten. Plus there is always enough left for the next day. Stews are cooked for the masses. You never find a recipe for ‘stew for 2’. For 6 or 8 yes and anyhow, the more the merrier to share such a meal.Lastly we cooked Jamie Oliver’s Italy pollo alla cacciatora which to you and me means simply hunter’s chicken stew. Now, neither of us hunts, or has even plucked a chicken which Jamie seems to be so proud of. But we can cook, love to eat and can easily fake the same hunger a hunter can after a cold day out looking for food. Very back to the basics all this!

Pollo all Cacciatora

1 chicken, jointed
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 bay leaves
2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
3 cloves of garlic, peeled (1 crushed, 2 sliced)
½ a bottle of Chianti
flour, for dusting and extra virgin olive oil
6 anchovy fillets
a handful of green or black olives, stoned
2 x 400g tins of good-quality plum tomatoes

These are the ingredients as stated in the book. I left out the Chianti (not because I don’t like it, because I didn’t have any!) and I left out the anchovies (didn’t feel like anchovies). Because of time constraints and not being a hunter’s wife and all, I didn’t marinate the chicken the night before either. And … I skipped the flour-dusting-chicken step (I do think that is because of pure laziness). I wonder if it still counts as a Jamie recipe then? A Jamie inspired recipe perhaps.

As always, season the chicken and indeed if you are organized enough, then leave the chicken to marinate ideally over night.

Preheat the oven to gas mark 4. I skipped the dusting, but the recipe does suggest dusting the chicken pieces with flour and shaking off any excess. I just added a splash of olive oil in a deep oven proof pan and fried the chicken pieces until browned lightly all over.

Add the sliced garlic. Fry gently until golden brown, then add the anchovies (optional … I guess), olives, tinned tomatoes and the chicken pieces. Bring to the boil, cover with a lid and bake in thepreheated oven for 1 ½ hours. Or until done. Taste, add the black olives, stir and season if necessary.

Serve with salad on the side. We skipped that as well and had it simply with fresh bread.

I know this is an easy recipe, but it has so many flavors you’ll want to try it again and again. I like the flexibility of stews and this one offered me the chance to use up ingredients I had in the house (tinned tomatoes, olives) and present the ‘hunter’ with a very delicious meal.
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