Italian chicken with herbs and mushrooms

The love affair with Italian cooking continues with plump and seductive thighs enhanced by herbs, mushrooms and olives. A real classic!

For this meal, you will need:
8 chicken thighs, bone in, skin on
250ml fruity white wine
200ml chicken stock
2 onions
3 cloves garlic
10 olives
1 can chopped tomatoes
1 punnet (250g) white mushrooms
Sprig of fresh rosemary
Sprig of fresh origanum
45ml extra virgin olive oil
15ml tomato concentrate
2 to 4 sticks celery
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Prepare the onions by peeling and cutting into thin slices. Crush, peel and mince the garlic cloves. Wash the fresh herbs, discarding wilted leaves. Chop the celery into 20mm chunks. Rinse then thinly slice the white mushrooms. Remove the pips from the olives with a small bladed paring knife.

We begin with the thighs. Bone in and skin on taste better than bone out and skin off. Season the thighs with a generous amount of coarsely ground black pepper and as little salt as you can get away with. Diners who want to live dangerously can add salt to their own food after you’ve dished up.

Select a heavy-based large saucepan, pour in 15ml (one tablespoon for traditional cooks) of extra virgin olive oil, bring this up to medium heat and brown the seasoned thighs for two minutes a side. Remove and store under cover. Add a second 15ml of olive oil and sweat the minced cloves of garlic and the thinly sliced onions.

Stir from time to time until the onions are soft and translucent. Increase the heat, add the wine, stir vigorously and let it boil for a minute or two. Reduce the heat to medium and stir in the washed and sliced mushrooms, the coarsely chopped celery, the tomato concentrate, can of chopped tomatoes, the stock and the sprigs of fresh rosemary and origanum.

If you don’t have origanum, marjoram or sage will add their own special accents to the meal. Fit the lid to the saucepan and let the contents simmer for 30 minutes. Check from time to time to avoid burning, since even a little bit of burnt onion can negatively affect the final flavour outcome.

Add the depipped olives at this stage and let the simmering continue for another 10 minutes or so. Ensure that the chicken is cooked right through, with no red visible at the bone. The meal looks as good as it tastes. Complete the presentation by serving it with angel hair pasta, to soak up the splendid juices. Alternatively, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes or butternut provide the juice-retaining qualities this meal demands.

A crisp green salad enhances the final effect. Make a dressing with 25ml balsamic vinegar, 50ml olive oil, 5ml (one teaspoon) coarse mustard, 5ml honey and a crushed clove of garlic. Shake like hell to form the emulsion. What a blast!

Contact David Basckin at [email protected] Please state ‘Real cooking’ in the subject line of your email.