Monday, 6 August 2012

Cheat's chicken cacciatore

This Italian classic of chicken baked with tomatoes and olives is a perennial on restaurant menus and it's not hard to see why - the chicken and tomatoes are reassuringly familiar while the olives add a touch of exotic. The full-on version involves baking chicken joints on the bone in the oven for an hour and a half to extract their full flavour, then enriching the sauce with mascarpone. Great if you're eating out or cooking for your friends. Not so practical for one.

A stove-top version for one can easily be rustled up within half an hour. And it's a good storecupboard standby as most of the ingredients are the sort of thing you'll have in the fridge and larder.

What you need: 
1 chicken breast, skin off
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 clove of garlic, crushed
Olive oil
1/2 tin of tomatoes, or fresh equivalent (quartered)
Glass of red wine (optional)
1 tsp tomato purée
Half a dozen black olives
1 dessert spoonful half-fat crème fraiche
Pinch of rosemary 

What to do:
Heat a little oil in a sauteuse and fry the onion and garlic gently in the oil until soft and translucent. Cut the chicken into bite-size pieces and add to the pan. Turn the heat up a notch and fry it for a couple of minutes until it takes a little colour on. Add the tomatoes, the purée, the olives and the wine, plus the rosemary. Put a lid on and let it simmer for 20 minutes or so.

Stir through the crème fraiche and warm it for 2 minutes, then dish up with some cannellini beans

Cook's tips: 
You can use yoghurt instead of crème fraiche - just stir it through at the very end and don't cook it else it risks curdling.

For the cannellini beans, use a half-size tin - rinse them well under the tap, then heat gently in a saucepan with a dribble of olive oil, a dribble of water and some seasoning.

This dish also goes really well with rice or roasted potatoes, the traditional accompaniment in its home country.