I hadn’t bought a cook book for a very long time and it was only because I was feeling sorry for Jamie, seeing his cook books on the shelf of a shop in town, going for a very low price, that I didn’t want to see him falling on hard times ;)
It was then a case of what am I going to cook first from it? It was cold and wet and I didn’t exactly want to go out for hours shopping just cook something for supper. So after returning from a local butcher and off licence with the chicken and wine, I was able to get back home in the warm to start preparing. Setting up the chicken to marinade in the wine etc. was good but I think I would have preferred to leave it in the fridge overnight to really infuse the flavours.
When it came to cooking this finally, the kitchen looked like a bomb site, with the amount of bowls and pans used to prepare and cook this recipe but it was well worth it :) I made enough to last the following day and it was well worth letting it reheat again slowly, as I reckon it tasted even better second time round!
According to Jamie Oliver in his Italian book,
Chicken cacciatora seems to be reasonably well known in Britain because it’s the classic pre-packed dish you find in Italian food ranges in supermarkets (which, to be honest, never taste of much). When you get the real deal cooked at home with love and passion it’s a totally different experience. It’s a simple combination of flavours that just works really well. Cacciatore means ‘hunter’, so this is obviously the type of food that a hunter’s wife cooks for her fella when he gets home from a hard morning spent in the countryside. This is also a great dish for big parties, as it looks after itself in the oven.
2 kg higher-welfare chicken, jointed, or use the equivalent amount of chicken pieces
freshly ground black pepper
8 bay leaves
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
3 cloves garlic, peeled (1 crushed, 2 sliced)
½ bottle Chianti
flour, for dusting (gluten free or plain)
extra virgin olive oil
6 anchovy fillets
1 handful green or black olives, stoned
2 x 400 g good-quality tinned plum tomatoes
1. Season the chicken pieces with salt and freshly ground black pepper and put them into a bowl. Add the bay leaves and rosemary sprigs and the crushed clove of garlic and cover with the wine. Leave to marinate for at least an hour, but preferably overnight in the fridge.
2. Preheat your oven to 180ºC/350ºF/gas 4. Drain the chicken, reserving the marinade, and pat dry with kitchen paper. Dust the chicken pieces with flour and shake off any excess. Heat an ovenproof pan, add a splash of olive oil, fry the chicken pieces until browned lightly all over and put to one side.
3. Place the pan back on the heat and add the sliced garlic. Fry gently until golden brown, then add the anchovies, olives, tomatoes (broken up with a wooden spoon) and the chicken pieces with their reserved marinade. Bring to the boil, cover with a lid or a double thickness layer of foil and bake in the preheated oven for 1½ hours.
4. Skim off any oil that’s collected on top of the sauce, then stir, taste and add a little salt and pepper if necessary. Remove the bay leaves and rosemary sprigs, and serve with a salad and plenty of Chianti.