I hate summer and everything about it.
I mean, don’t get me wrong. The concept of summer is nice- the beach, fresh tropical fruit, al fresco dinners and warm evenings where anything is possible…but the reality (at least in my mind) is blowflies, air conditioning running on high and foundation that melts down your face.
So when March 1st arrived, I am almost peed myself with glee. I celebrated by thumbing through allof my cookbooks, searching for comfort food recipes, because that’s my thing.
Comfort food stirs up all these memories of childhood winters, where my biggest problem was the fact that my sister had stolen my favourite blue Derwent pencil and therefore my colouring book was doomed to a life of monochromatic misery. I remember the days that it used to rain, non-stop, all day and we would be huddled up inside with some delicious aromas wafting from the kitchen.
I also celebrated by pulling out and washing my beloved slow cooker, preparing it for the months again and I cannot freakin wait to use it. I am a 26 year old woman and ashamed that these are the things that excite me.
So tonight, I decided to go old school and make up a big batch of my childhood fave, Chicken Cacciatore. I served it with a side of my Nonna’s fennel roasted baby potatoes and green beans from the garden dressed simply with some olive oil and white wine vinegar, just like she used to make back in the day. All with some crusty Ciabatta bread of course. Excuse the photo… I was in a rush to feed my husband before he ‘starved to death’, because we all know what a tragedy it is if you don’t feed the man this very second, so please forgive me for the whole ‘red slop on a plate’ vibe.
So as I ate, I couldn’t help but reminisce. Oh and by the way, I did eventually get that precious blue Derwent pencil back….
- 3tbsp olive oil
- Plain flour, for dusting
- Salt and cracked black pepper
- 3 chicken breasts, cut into fist-sized portions
- 1 onion, diced
- 2 tbsp minced garlic/1 garlic clove, chopped
- Small zucchini, diced
- 1 carrot, sliced
- 1/2 cup of red and green capsicum, chopped
- 1/2 cup chopped mushrooms
- 1/2 cup Kalamata olives
- 2 tbsp chopped basil leaves
- 2/3 cup chicken stock
- 700g jar of passata
- 1/2 cup wine (I used red because I had some sitting in the fridge, but the recipe calls for white)
Fennel Roasted Potatoes
8 baby potatoes, peeled
2 tbsp fennel seeds
1 tbsp rosemary salt
cracked pepper, to taste
- Pre-heat oven to 200°C.
- Toss potatoes in fennel seeds and drizzle with olive oil. Season with rosemary salt and cracked pepper.
- Bake potatoes on a tray lined with baking paper in hot oven until crispy and golden.
- Coat chicken breasts with flour. Heat the oil in frying pan and brown chicken. Don’t worry too much about cooking it through, just get some nice colour on the outside.
- Remove chicken from pan and set aside.
- In the same pan, add a touch more oil and cook onion, garlic, zucchini, carrot, capsicum and mushrooms. Cook until onion and capsicum are soft and fragrant.
- Add the chicken back to the pan. Add passata, wine and chicken stock and cover. Cook on medium heat for approx 15 minute, then lower to a simmer.
- Throw in the olives and basil leaves and cook, uncovered for a further 7 minutes.
- Serve alongside the fennel-roasted potatoes and some fresh green beans dressed with olive oil and a dash of white wine vinegar, or just simple steamed green beans. Good, wholesome food just like your mama made.