I live in the South, where the weather is 75 one day, 35 the next. Even on the coldest day, we can trek the outdoors. I am surrounded by steep, tree covered hills, some might call small mountains with trails carved out and I’m finding myself going up these steep trails several times a week. I’m not sure if I’ve ever shared this, but I maintain an active life style and always have. I have been a runner, and I go to zumba classes that are a lot hip hop and I do a little weight training. Lately, though, I’m walking these trails for hours at a time. The trees exploded into yellow, red and orange hues and stayed that way for several weeks. Usually, we get a little of this, and the trees are bare, but this year we have had an extended spectacular Autumn.
Today is the last day of Autumn, but it’s cold outside. This is when I want my dutch oven to sit on the stove simmering comfort food. Since I’m wanting this most days, I want healthy, and hearty, which seems to be my theme these days, and this Italian stew of braised chicken, tomatoes, potatoes and peas comes to mind.
This is one of those meals that’s made on a cold afternoon in between doing many other things. In other words, it’s easy, not a dish you need to focus on or clear out the kitchen and clean up the counter. Most of the ingredients were chopped on one cutting board, and it’s all made in just one pot.
Eventually, the chicken falls off the bone, but is not mushy or flavorless. It goes from a braise to a stew. It does well with big crusty bread or garlic bread to sop up the sauce. It deserves a big fat glass of red wine.
The chicken is browned in a heavy pan of olive oil, but at some point in the cooking process, the skin is removed. I’m not fussy about what parts of the chicken you use. You might be a thigh person or a breast only person. I used both, but cut the breasts in half so the parts were equal.
The braise begins with a little carrot, celery, onion and garlic, followed by San Marzano plum tomatoes. At this point, you can optionally throw in a half glass of dry white wine. I generally use white wine for my bolognese sauce and I sometimes prefer a white wine when I want to keep the tomato taste clean and light. The tomato sauce should be flavorful, chunky and good enough to eat with a spoon.
- 2 thighs, 2 chicken breasts, cut in half
- 1 large can tomatoes
- olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 onion
- 1 celery
- 1 carrot
- big bunch parsley
- 1 green bell pepper
- 1½ cups chopped potatoes
- 6 olives (oil cured, seeds removed or spanish olives)
- few sprigs thyme
- ½ teaspoon red chili pepper
- 1 cup frozen peas
- white wine (optional)
- Brown chicken in olive oil. Remove set aside.
- Saute carrots, celery, onion, garlic for ten minutes. Add in tomatoes, chopped with juice, half of parsley chopped, salt pepper, chicken. Cook for one hour over low heat.
- Add in potatoes, cook for 20 minutes. Add in peas, rest of parsley, cook for 10 more minutes. Serve with crusty bread to sop up the sauce.