Saturday, January 9, 2010

By special request....

Here at Gourmet Goddess we are all about satisfying the culinary cravings of those we care about, so this week when my friend and fellow food lover - the lovely Emily - asked me if I had a recpe for a mediterranean style chicken casserole dish, I promised her that I would whip one up on the weekend and post the recipe. This chicken dish I have chosen is very rustic and the flavours are bold, with the addition of fennel, olives and capers. The sauce also contains anchovies. Now, if you hate anchovies, don't go all skittish on me (you are already screwing up your nose, aren't you??) Anchovies add a beautiful piquant quality to the sauce and I promise you that it won't taste even remotely fishy. They really do add something special to the dish, so don't be tempted to leave them out. I really love capers in a whole range of dishes and they really work well with mediterranean flavours. Generally I prefer to use the salted capers - you just need to rinse the salt off them before use. If you can only get the ones in vinegar, that's fine - just drain them well. The smaller capers are much nicer than the really large ones too, so look out for the smaller "baby" capers.

This dish can be made ahead and is actually even more delicious the next day. Perfect for entertaining if you want a "set and forget" meal that will not keep you away from your guests. It is also ideal for freezing, which is what I am doing with the batch I've made tonight. It is gorgeous as a pie filling too. Put the mixture in a dish or in individual ramekins and whack some puff pastry on the top. Cook until the pastry is puffed and golden and presto! Mediterranean chicken pie. This casserole is lovely with polenta, green vegetables such as broad beans or zucchini or with crusty, garlic grilled bread.

So, here you are Em - hope you enjoy this one....

Mediterranean chicken with olives and capers

You will need: 1kg boneless chicken thighs, 2 tablespoons plain flour, 2 tablespoons mild paprika, 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, 2 large onions, 1 small fennel bulb, 4 cloves garlic, 1/2 cup roughly chopped pitted olives (I used a mixture of red and green), 1 tablespoon capers, 1 bay leaf, 4 anchovies finely chopped, olive oil, 1 litre chicken stock, 1 tin crushed tomatoes, 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper.

Method: Trim the excess fat from the chicken thighs and if the chicken thighs are all in one large piece when you buy them, cut them in two. Combine the plain flour, cayenne, a generous amount of black pepper and 1 tablespoon of the paprika - coat the chicken well in that mixture. Heat some olive oil in a casserole dish on the stovetop and brown the chicken till golden, a few pieces at a time. Don't overcrowd the pan - you want to brown the chicken at this stage, not stew it. Put the chicken aside.

Slice the onion and fennel (only use the white part of the fennel bulb). Heat a splash of olive oil in the pan and cook the fennel and onion until it starts to soften. Add the bay leaf, garlic, anchovies, olives and capers and combine well. Add the chicken, stock, tomatoes, balsamic and 1 tablespoon paprika. Bring to a simmer and then cover the pan and transfer it to a moderate oven.

Cook for 1 hour with the lid on, stirring a few times during the cooking. After the 1 hour mark, taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper if required. Turn the oven up high and cook the chicken for another 20 minutes so that the sauce reduces furter before serving. Serves 4-6 people.



  1. You had me at 'anchovies'. Far from wrinkling my nose, I think I'd like to swim in a vat of them. Hmmm, better just make your fab recipe instead.

  2. Thanks Belle :) Yes, I'm a hug fan of anchovies too - I will even eat them mashed on slices of crusty toast and they find their way into lots of my dishes. It's funny, people will say they hate them because of their "fishy-ness" but they will wolf down my anchovy laden dishes :) I just don't tell them that they are in there to save any dramas!! Glad you like the recipe - and thanks for checking out GG!