Hello, hello, hello!
I’m back! I’m finally back! I have internet and I’m back! I also hope to do a photo shoot of the new place quite soon. I’ve been keeping it nice and clean for that exact reason, and because I’m a bit of a clean freak. I’ve found that as the apartment is quite small dirt and grime are much easier to notice. As are these accursed long hairs! So I try to do little bits here and there, to keep on top of it. And because it is small that’s not hard to do. I vacuumed the entire apartment the other night while waiting for pizzas for dinner and for lunch for work to cook.
I did then manage to drop one these pizzas face down on the sparklingly clean oven door, however. That was an adventure, and not the fun kind! But most of the pizza was rescued and devoured and when the oven door was cool I started cleaning it. It occurred to me as I was struggling to remove the oil and cooked on cheese, that I had a special glass and ceramic cooktop cleaner. I bought it at the request of the property managers in order to preserve my cooktop. It turns out Cerapol is an amazing oven cleaner as well – it’s liquid magic people, I kid you not. But this wasn’t in fact my first use of the oven, it was the second! The first produced a delicious meal and kickstarted my leftovers collection.
My old friend Andrew, who I’ve known since my first day of high school, came over last weekend. I’d been complaining to him about my lack of inspiration for cooking tasty meals which make lots of leftovers, contain enough veg to be healthy, and that freeze well. Andrew suggested he come over and we cook together, and he could then see my new place at the same time. Naturally I said yes! So he presented me with a list of meals he knew the recipes for and could help me to cook. I chose his Chicken Cacciatore, a recipe adapted from his father’s recipe, because I knew it would get me more veg and wouldn’t be too expensive. As I’m also now learning how expensive it can be not only to get allergy friendly foods, but also lots of staples/allergy friendly staples for lots of from scratch cooking.
That turned out to be the best possible decision for me. I had all but two or three of the ingredients we needed to make the dish on hand. Better still it would use up large portions of groceries from other meals that would have gone to waste otherwise. As my good friend Mrs E has been teaching me, you’ve got to plan your ingredients for use in multiple meals for the most effective budgeting and minimal waste. So that morning I cleaned out the oven and got it sorted for use. Then when Andrew arrived I gave him a tour of the apartment and we headed off to the supermarket.
The meal itself was absolutely delicious, but sadly is not one I could make by myself. The oven is low to the ground, and the door comes out in an awkward place for heavy lifting as a result. But as Andrew was there we could do it! His Chicken Cacciatore is incredibly simple to put together, but with the herbs and the flavours coming through from the olives and tomatoes it’s so yummy! It also freezes very well and can be paired with pasta, rice, potato – you name it! I liked it with rice in particular. It also made enough that I could put two chicken thighs in each takeaway container with some sauce and freeze them, and then have two portions of just veggie sauce leftover to have on toast for a lazy two dinners! It also fed both Andrew and I for generous helpings of dinner that night. I couldn’t ask for more!
Serves: 6-8, Prep: 15-20 mins, Cook: up to 2 hrs
- 2 brown onions, diced
- 3 carrots, diced
- 3 celery stalks, diced
- 8 chicken thigh pieces (boneless)
- 3 x 410g cans of diced tomato
- 1 x 220g jar black olives, diced
- 2-3 heaped tablespoons of Italian herbs (the stronger the flavour of the blend the better)
- 1 tsp minced garlic
- 2 heaped tbsp gluten-free chicken or vegetable stock powder (I use Massel’s)
- 1/2 cup/125ml red wine
- Olive oil, for cooking
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Preheat your oven to 180C, and set aside an at least 4L capacity oven-proof casserole dish. If your dish is cooktop safe you can cook everything in this, otherwise you will need a frypan.
- Add some oil and the onion to a pan or the casserole dish, and cook the onion over medium to high heat. You want to cook it a bit slowly, so that it turns translucent and is more caramelised than fried.
- Add in the carrots and the celery, and cook until the vegetables are a little softened. About 5-10 minutes or so.
- Add in all the other ingredients, minus the chicken, and stir together.
- NOTE: To get extra tomato flavour from what’s left on the inside of the tomato cans, you can pour the wine into one can, swirl it around to get the tomato juice, then tip it into the next can and so on, and then pour the liquid straight from the last can to the dish. Waste not want not!
- Add in the chicken, stir, making sir the chicken is covered by the sauce, and season. You can be quite generous with the pepper, but might want to hold back on the salt if you haven’t used salt reduced stock.
- Then bring the mixture up to the boil, cover it with the lid, and pop it into the oven for an hour.
- You can either choose to give it a stir here, to make sure nothing is sticking at the bottom and then pop it back in for another 30 mins, or leave it cooking without stirring for another 30 mins.
- Serve with your preferred carb-alicious staple, like rice, pasta or mashed potato!