There’s something I love about one-pot wonders like this. They taste like you’ve slaved for hours, but really there’s only a small amount of prep work at the beginning before it takes care of itself for the most part. While it bubbles away on the stove, your house will fill with the scent of the delicious dinner to come. Served over creamy polenta or mashed sweet potato, this dish truly is soul food—something to be enjoyed with loved ones. Serves 4.
Written in conjunction with my mates at Lilydale Free Range.
1 whole Lilydale Free Range Chicken, jointed
3 tb extra virgin olive oil
1 large brown onion, sliced
4 cloves garlic, crushed
6-8 Dutch or baby carrots, halved lengthways
1 red capsicum, seeds removed and roughly chopped
180g button mushrooms, halved
200g large, firm green olives, seeds removed
1 tb capers in vinegar, drained
400g tinned tomatoes, drained and crushed
2 tb tomato paste
1 cup (250ml) chicken stock
1 cup (250ml) Cabernet Sauvignon or other dry red wine (optional, otherwise double the stock)
4 bay leaves
6 sprigs thyme
bunch flat-leaf parsley, to serve
sea salt and black pepper, to taste
In a bowl, coat the chicken pieces with two tablespoons of olive oil, two crushed cloves of garlic, and some sea salt and pepper.
Heat a wide (28-30cm), heavy-based, stovetop casserole dish on a medium-high heat. Once nice and hot, add the chicken pieces to brown. They’ll only need about three minutes on each side. Remove them from the casserole and leave to one side.
Lower the heat to medium, then add the remaining olive oil, garlic, onion, and thyme sprigs. Cook for two minutes or until the onion is translucent, stirring regularly.
Add the mushrooms, and cook for a further minute.
Reduce the heat to a very low flame, and add the carrots, capsicum, olives, capers, bay leaves, tomatoes, and tomato paste. Pour over the stock and, if you’re using it, the wine. Give everything a good mix to make sure it’s well combined, then return the chicken to the dish.
Bring to a simmer, and then place the lid over the casserole. Leave to cook for an hour and a half.
Once done, remove the bay leaves and what’s remaining of the thyme sprigs. Divide the cacciatore between four plates, served over polenta or your favourite mash. Season with sea salt and pepper, then top with loads of fresh parsley and enjoy.
Hint: If you haven’t jointed a chicken before, there are plenty of online references to find out just how to do it. Alternatively, you could use eight Lilydale Free Range drumsticks instead of the whole bird.