I really love the taste of chicken that has been fried and then poached. Cooking chicken this way gives you all the benefits of the lovely flavour of fried chicken and the delicious moist texture of poached chicken. Very much the best of both worlds, in my opinion. Plus the sauce gets the added benefit of all the lovely chicken juices and the chicken gets extra flavour from the sauce. In this recipe I have created a quick and easy ratatouille to poach the chicken in, giving the chicken a sort of Mediterranean vibe. This simple chicken stew can be made on the hob in under an hour, but needs very little attention once it has got started, making it perfect for busy weekday evenings.
For a vegetarian version of this stew, you could use vegetable stock instead of chicken stock and chickpeas or cannellini beans instead of the chicken. Cook everything else as per the recipe below, adding in the chickpeas/beans about 15 minutes before the end.
I really love the aniseedy flavour of fennel in this dish, but I know fennel isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, so if you don’t like it, leave it out and maybe add in an extra courgette instead.
I like to serve this stew with rice, but it would go equally well with mashed potatoes, couscous or French bread. If you have more time it would also go very well with my saffron rice pilaf. To drink I would suggest a Southern French Grenache red or rosé would work well here.
Mediterranean Chicken Stew
- Olive oil
- 1 red onion sliced
- 1 aubergine cut into 2cm chunks
- 1 large courgette cut into 2cm chunks
- 1 bulb of fennel cut into 2cm chunks
- 8 chicken thighs or legs or a mixture
- 2 garlic cloves chopped finely or crushed
- 400 ml chicken stock
- 400 g tin chopped tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- Salt and pepper
- rice couscous or bread to serve
Put a drizzle of olive oil in a wide, deep saucepan and add the sliced onions. Cook on a low heat, covered with a lid for 5 minutes until the onions are soft but not brown.
Add the chunks of aubergine, courgettes and fennel and another good drizzle of olive oil. Turn the heat up to medium-high and cook until golden brown (5-10 minutes), stirring occasionally.
Meanwhile, put a drizzle of olive oil in a large non-stick frying pan and put over a high heat. Season the chicken pieces and add to the hot frying pan. Fry for 3 minutes on each side, until golden brown. (Note: you can do this before starting the ratatouille, if you don’t like juggling two pans at once.)
When the vegetables are ready add the crushed garlic and fry for one more minute, then add the chicken stock, tinned tomatoes and oregano, plus some salt and pepper.
Bring the ratatouille to the boil, then turn down low and add the chicken pieces.
Cover with a lid and simmer for 25 minutes.
After 25 minutes give the stew a stir and cook for a further 20 minutes with the lid off.
Serve with rice, mashed potatoes, couscous or crusty bread and a glass of French Grenache red or rosé.