I love slow cooked casseroles, hours in the oven turning meal to tender tasty morsels of yummy goodness. Served with a few greens or some cous cous and this for me is another perfect winter meal! Stephanie Alexander, in her cooks companion, talks about coq au vin being a great dish to make, you do a little work, pop it in the oven, and then you can sit down with your feet up whilst it does it thing. Sound’s like smart cooking to me. So I was inspired by Stephanie’s recipe, but also by a version of Pollo Alla Cacciatora that Jamie Oliver has in his Italy cookbook, to create my own version of a rustic chicken casserole.
A tip given to me along my cooking journey I think really worth sharing at this point: don’t cook with wine that you wouldn’t drink. Sage advise indeed, as the flavour of the wine will be a major part of the meal you are creating, particularly at this quantity. So you don’t have to break out the Penfold’s Grange, but something that is pleasing to your palate is what you should be choosing to cook with.
One last thing before we start the recipe, this recipe calls for a large cast iron pot to cook in. You want to be able to brown the meat on the stove and then transfer straight to the oven without losing any of the flavours that have been created on the bottom of the pot when you have been browning off your meat.
Rustic Chicken Casserole
serves approx 8 people
- 2kg Chicken Drumsticks
- 2 x 400g tins whole peeled tomatoes
- 2 brown onions – cut into wedges
- 1 leek – sliced into 1cm pieces
- 3 sprigs rosemary
- handful thyme
- 4 carrots
- 2 stalks celery
- 3 bay leaves
- 2 small birdseye chillis, remove seeds and finely dice
- 50g butter or approx 2 tbl sp olive oil
- 1 bottle red wine
- 2/3 cup kalamata olives, pitted
- 1 tbl sp plain flour
- 1 tbl sp dried oregano
Now all the recipe books say you should marinate your meat overnight for best effect here, but I’m making the quick version and I don’t think the flavor suffered too much. If you want to add to the flavours, marinate your chicken with the rosemary and thyme, in the wine overnight, before starting the below process.
Wash your chicken and remove the skin and fat if it came that way. Whilst they are draining, cut your celery and carrots into a fine diced mix.
Drain and dry your chicken on paper towel before putting into a large bowl or freezer bag to coat with the flour and oregano. If you marinated your meat, remove the chicken from the wine mix (don’t discard the wine) and pat dry before flouring as above.
Fry off your chicken in the butter or olive oil until brown on all sides. It’s best to do this in two or three batches so they cook well.
Once all the chicken is cooked add it all back into the pot and cover with your vegetables, onion, garlic and chilli. Then add your herbs and wine. Add in the tinned tomatoes crushing them slightly with your hand as you go. Next add the olives. Bring the mix to the simmer and then cover with the lid and put into the oven. This will take between 2 -3 hours to cook at a moderate heat (160 c). Its ready when the meat falls away from the bone easily with a fork.
Once cooked, removed the herb stalks & bay leaves. I think this looks best served on the bone, but if you have people in your family that are not a fan of bones, without too much trouble you could remove them, taking care to also get the knuckles.
Season with salt and pepper to serve.
I served this on some cooked quinoa, but it would be equally as tasty with some green beans or some cous cous to soak up the juices. Serve with a robust glass of red wine, and you’ll be ready for a fireplace and someone to snuggle with very very quickly.
Happy Cooking, and Happy Eating.