Saturday 21 February 2015

Hunters Chicken Stew (Pollo alla Cacciatora)

This is a simple rustic dish, easy to prepare, looks impressive and great for a crowd. I have made it quite a few times as it something you prepare and pop in the oven and enjoy a wine (or two) while you chat with your friends and wait for it to cook. the smell wafting from the kitchen is just divine.
Just remember you need to marinate the chicken, best to do it the night before, and you need to reserve the marinade to return to the dish after you brown the chicken pieces. Don't do what I did once and throw the marinade out by mistake. A reminder to self,  'read the recipe before starting'! Mmmmmmm.
I slightly adapted Jamie Oliver's version found in 'Jamie's Italy'. Instead of tinned tomatoes I slow roasted a heap of over- ripe fresh tomatoes and added those to my dish. A great way to use up that abundant tomato harvest.  I tossed some of my lovely homegrown rosemary, garlic and bay leaves into the recipe too - very satisfying to have those so fresh in the garden at this time of the year.
Jamie recommends to serve this with cannellini beans and a salad but you could just serve with a side of fresh crusty bread smeared with loads of lovely butter. Great for sopping up that gorgeous sauce. I added a pile of small potatoes to the dish, a bit of a favourite combo of mine.
Hunters Chicken Stew (Pollo alla Cacciatora)
1 x 2kg chicken or equivalent amount of chicken pieces
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 bay leaves
2 sprigs of rosemary
3 cloves of garlic (1 crushed, 2 sliced)
1/2 bottle of Chianti (I just used a cheapish Shiraz)
flour for dusting and extra virgin olive oil
6 anchovy fillets
a handful of green or black olives, stoned
2 x 400g tins of plum or Italian tomatoes or equivalent slow roasted ripe tomatoes with just a little water added ( I added a little too much)
Season chicken pieces and put them in a bowl with the bay leaves, rosemary sprigs, and the crushed garlic and cover with the wine. Leave to marinate for at least an hour but preferably overnight.
Preheat the oven to 180 or 350F. Drain the chicken, reserving the marinade, and pat dry with paper towels.
Dust your chicken pieces with flour and shake off excess. Heat a pan with a little olive oil and brown chicken evenly on both sides.
Place pan back on heat, add sliced garlic. Fry gently until golden brown, add the anchovies, olives, tomatoes (break them up a little) and chicken pieces and reserved marinade.
Bring to the boil, cover with a lid or foil and bake for 1 1/2 hours. Remove bay leaves and rosemary sprigs and serve.

I should have reduced the sauce a little more at the first stage. It wasn't wasted - I just scooped it up with a large soup spoon!
I love the flavours in this dish

Sunday 1 February 2015

Potatoes, garlic and carrots

  It sounds like a perfect dish! But no -  this is really a post about small beginnings.
I planted Jersey Benny potatoes for the first time this season. I also planted organic garlic - another first, the result was not exactly a massive harvest but you have to start somewhere I suppose. I also harvested carrots of a strange shape, not your usual carrot shape, more 'stumpy'. My hubby thought they looked like something from 'Hobbiton' but then nothing surprises him when it comes to my gardening! They were delicious, so sweet. I grew the Jersey Bennys in a big barrel (another first). They certainly took their time and while the quantities were not big they tasted wonderful. 
  Another success was my rhubarb. I was given a plant when I first moved to Welly but it hasn't really thrived. This season, after a lot of compost and the odd sheep pellet and lots of watering, I have a lovely crop. I made some into a yummy Chelsea Winter rhubarb crumble. So delicious. I secreted away a little plate of left overs but unfortunately my little grandson had spotted me and asked for it the next day. How could I say no?! Drizzled with cream, the plate was literally licked clean.  
potatoes, garlic and my stumpy carrots

   Looking over my photos recently I came across these of my first house. It was a truly humble little place but I was so proud of it. As you can see the back yard was pretty much vegetable garden, which supplemented my pathetic income at the time. In those early years I had a little more strength and energy, so it was well and truly laden with vegetables. I do remember spending hours digging and weeding, often in searing heat, and the early experience planted (excuse the pun!) the love of growing my own produce. I spent months and months redecorating the inside, landscaping the outside of the house and sorting a driveway and single garage. I sold it after about three years. It looked a picture on sale day and the first person (a woman) through the door bought it on the spot.
Me, proudly in front of my vege plot
A garden not that flash looking but good soil

The back yard on sale day - with new fancy paths and lawn
   While my daughter was visiting over the holidays we organised a 2013 book of my blog using Blurb. When I first started my blog I thought it would be a great way of recording and sharing my 'tried and true' recipes but it has become a little more than that. Now I also see it as a way of 'talking' to my friends and family, a bit of a journal really and making the book ensures these conversations are not lost. So now I have the 2012 and 2013 Capital Living editions and it is lovely to look back on them and use them as recipe books.
So from small beginnings - looks like I will continue gardening, creating and writing into 2015!