The knack with this dish is to do the “chopping and dopping” (as my mum calls it) of the veg in advance, which makes putting it together easy; once the dish is assembled it requires very little attention, so it’s a good dish to make in stages if you are busy. Do the veg, then brown the chicken, then throw it together.
Use meat on the bone rather than chicken breast, which will dry out. Once cooked, it will stay hot in the Le Creuset for some time even after you’ve taken it out of the oven so don’t feel it has to be ‘ready’ for the moment you want to eat. It’s actually nicer when it’s not super-hot as the flavours come through more.
Easy Mediterranean Chicken
What you need
2tbsp olive oil (plus another dash)
3 large chicken thighs, bone in (approx. 650g chicken; if thighs are smaller, use more)
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 carrots, peeled and diced
2 medium onions, cut in half and sliced
3 sticks celery, string removed, sliced
½ cup white wine
1 tin chopped tomatoes
6 sundried tomatoes, roughly chopped
3 flame-grilled peppers (from a jar), sliced lengthways (the brand I have is called Gaea and I got them from Sainsbury’s)
1tsp herbes de Provence (a blend of oregano, thyme, rosemary etc)
What to do
Heat the oven to 170˚C (150˚C Fan).
First of all you need to brown the chicken: heat the oil in a large ovenproof casserole dish with a lid (I use my faithful Le Creuset) and add the chicken pieces. Let them sit and cook on one side for a good 5 mins or so before turning them over using tongs and doing the other side. The entire process will take around 15 mins. Once browned, remove from the dish and let them sit on a plate.
Turn the heat down and add another dash of oil, then add the garlic and onions and stir quite vigorously – you don’t want them to burn. Keep stirring for a couple of mins, then add the carrots and celery, stir again, and then let them soften for 5–10 minutes. Add the red peppers and the sundried tomatoes, stir, and add the white wine, the chopped tomatoes (don’t discard the tin!), the herbes de Provence and season well. Bring to a simmer then turn the heat down and put the lid on, and let it cook for about 10 mins. It will start to smell wonderful!
Now put the chicken and any juices that have collected on the plate back into the dish and fill the empty tomato tin about two thirds full with water and pour that in too. Bring to a simmer on the hob, and then cover and put the dish in the pre-heated oven for 25 mins.
After 25 mins, remove the dish from the oven and move the chicken around in the pan – you want the pieces to still be pretty much covered by the bubbling, aromatic sauce. Now remove the lid and cook for another 10 mins. Remove from the oven and take out one piece of chicken; check the juices are running clear by inserting a sharp knife near the bone.
Once cooked, sprinkle with chopped flat-leaf parsley, and serve with new potatoes and green beans, or alternatively with rice. When serving to children, I strip the meat off the bone before serving and mix with the sauce either in the pan or directly on the plates.
Hopefully their plate will empty quickly, as this one did (note the other hand reaching over!):
Don’t worry about the fact there is wine in the sauce and serving it to kids; the alcohol burns off in the cooking. It’s worth adding as it lends the dish a wonderful depth of flavour. (And what’s more, you can have a glass later on when they are in bed. See what I did there?)