For the uninitiated, cacciatore (pronounced catch-chee-ah-tor-ay) refers to a “hunter-style” method of cooking in which the meat, vegetables and herbs slowly simmer in a single pot. This recipe stays true to the Northern Italian tradition of using white wine, but adds passata, because, well, why not? Buon appetito!
500g skinless, boneless chicken thighs
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp minced fresh rosemary (from about 2 sprigs)
3-4 tbsp olive oil
250g chestnut mushrooms, stems removed, cut into 1-inch pieces
4oz smoked pancetta, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 large onions, roughly chopped
250ml dry white wine
1 chicken stock cube
Chopped flat-leaf parsley, for garnish
In a small bowl, combine garlic, salt, black pepper, rosemary, and 2 tbsp of the oil; stir to make a paste; rub evenly over chicken pieces. Cover and chill for 2 hours.
Heat remaining oil in a heavy cast iron pot over high heat. Working in batches, cook chicken pieces in a single layer, turning to brown all sides. Transfer chicken to a plate.
Add mushrooms, pancetta and onions to the pot. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are golden brown and pancetta is rendered, about 8 minutes.
Add the wine and stir to loosen browned bits from the bottom of pot. Add the stock cube and passata and bring to a boil. Return chicken pieces to pot, reduce heat to medium heat, partially cover, and cook for 10 minutes. Then uncover pot, reduce heat to medium, and cook 15-20 minutes more (depending on the size of the chicken pieces. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.
Italian Stromboli loaf loaded with artichokes, olives, sausage, gooey mozzarella and rich tomato sauce. I seem to be making a lot of stuff under the guise of baked bread stuffed with cheese recently but it’s not something I plan to change any time soon. This is a really satisfying, comfort food. It takes a while to put together but is surprisingly simple and totally worth the effort. You can put whatever you want in the middle. Jalapeño and chorizo is another winning combo. My little brother even likes ham and pineapple in his.
1 quantity pizza dough (see my recipe for pizza dough on ‘pizza’ post)
1 jar pizza topping sauce
1 bunch fresh basil
3/4 cup artichoke heart pieces, drained
1/2 cup chopped green olives
1/2 pound cooked Italian sausage, crumbled
1 cup grated mozzarella cheese
1 tablespoon melted butter
Cracked black pepper
Preheat the oven to 200C. Roll out the pizza dough on a piece of parchment paper, into an 11 X 15 inch rectangle.
Spread 1/2 cup pizza sauce over the dough, leaving a 2 inch border around all sides.
Top the tomato sauce with fresh basil leaves. Layer the sausage, olives, artichokes and cheese over the basil leaves.
Then lifting the parchment paper, gently roll one short end toward the other short end, creating a log with the seam facing down.
Brush the loaf with melted butter then sprinkle with pepper. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until golden brown. Allow the Stromboli to rest 10 minutes before slicing. Serve the remaining pizza sauce in a bowl to dip the Stromboli slices into.
Arancini, named after the little oranges that these fried rice balls are said to resemble, are best known in the UK as a handy way to use up leftover risotto. You can use any risotto you have made, fill it with anything you like and coat it in what you fancy too.
I had leftover mushroom risotto, stuffed it with some chorizo and coated it in a sage and pistachio breadcrumb coating but you can use whatever you have or fancy.
Some ideas could include:
Risotto: Butternut and sage, chicken and bacon, saffron, tomato and basil
Take 1 heaped tsp of leftover risotto and flatten it slightly in the palm of your hand
Place a little of your filling in the centre and gently cup your hand to encase the filling within the risotto mix. Form into a compact ball and repeat until the risotto is used up.
Place the flour, beaten egg and breadcrumbs in three separate bowls. Coat the risotto balls in the flour, then in the egg and finally in the breadcrumbs.
Heat the oil in a pan over a high heat until it reaches about 180C or until you drop a few breadcrumbs in and they sizzle and turn golden.
Fry about 4 arancini balls at a time so the temperature of the oil does not drop as this will make the balls soggy. When they are deep golden brown, remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper. Keep in a warm oven while you cook the rest.
Serve with a tomato sauce to dunk them into… and maybe a glass of wine too 😉
A good moussaka is a joy to behold with cinnamon spiced lamb mingling with aubergines and a delicious creamy sauce. It is something I’ve always wanted to make but never have until my friends and I decided to have a Greek night. Perfect chance. I don’t know why I’ve not made one before. It’s extremely comforting and flavourful and well worth the effort.
2 large aubergines, cut into ¼” / ¾ cm thick slices
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, grated
500 g lamb mince
1 cinnamon stick
1 Tbsp plain flour
400g tinned plum tomatoes
3 tbsp tomato puree
1 cup chicken or lamb broth/stock, or water + 1 stock cube
1 tsp dried mint
2 tsp dried oregano
¾ tsp salt
½ tsp allspice (optional)
Lemon zest and juice (optional)
4 tbsp butter
5 tbsp plain flour
3 cups milk
¼ tsp nutmeg, freshly grated
½ cup grated parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper
⅓ cup panko or fresh breadcrumbs
Sprinkle the aubergines with salt and place them (stacked) in a large colander. Leave to sweat for 30 minutes, then brush off excess salt and pat dry with a paper towel.
Preheat oven to 200C. Lay the aubergine onto 2 large baking trays, brush with olive oil and bake for 10 minutes or until just softened. Remove and set aside to cool.
Heat olive oil in a pan over medium high heat then cook the garlic and onion for 3 minutes. Add the lamb and cook, using the wooden spoon to break up the mince as you go. Add the flour and herbs and stir. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a simmer, then cover, lower heat to medium low and cook for 15 minutes.
Melt butter in a pan over medium heat. Add flour and cook for 1 minute, using a whisk to keep it moving.
Add 1 cup of milk and whisk to combine. It will thicken quite quickly. Add the remaining milk. Whisk until smooth then cook for 3 to 5 minutes or until it thickens so that it thickly coats the back of a wooden spoon.
Remove from the stove and whisk in cheese. Allow to cool for 5 minutes then whisk the eggs in.
Add salt and pepper to taste.
Preheat oven to 180C.
Place half the filling in the bottom of a baking dish then half of the aubergine in a layer on top. Repeat the process with the remaining filling and aubergine.
Pour over the béchamel sauce, sprinkle with breadcrumbs and a little extra grated cheese and bake for 30 – 40 minutes or until golden brown.
Allow to stand for at least 10 minutes before serving.
A traditional Brazilian dish of fish and bell peppers (capsicum) in a delicately flavoured coconut base broth, this stew really is quite unique.
I made this after being inspired by a visit to a Brazilian restaurant where they carved copious amounts of tender meat onto your plate quicker than you could eat it. I was in heaven. While the selection of meat was absolutely beautiful, what stood out for me most was the ‘salad bar’ that was on offer. There was a variety of Brazilian delicacies ranging from lentil salads, herb and garlic roast potatoes, black bean stew, rices, pastas, salsas, olives, garlic mushrooms, fresh fruits and vegetables, and many other things including moqueca. The spices were subtle but flavourful and the fish was welcome change from the heavy going grilled meats. I cooked up a batch for the family the day after and it was a total success.
This is actually quite refreshing rather than rich and heavy. In addition to coconut milk, the broth has in it canned tomatoes, lime juice, paprika and cumin powder. The paprika and cumin flavour is subtle, and to me, the standout is the lime flavour which cuts through the richness of the coconut milk.
The broth is quite refreshing and not too rich, unlike many strong flavoured, rich coconut based curries. I made this just using fish but it is also made as a seafood stew with prawns and calamari.
3-4 salmon fillets, skinned and cut into chunks
1 tbsp lime juice
¼ tsp salt
1 tbsp olive oil
1½ tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 small onion, finely diced
1 large red bell pepper, halved and sliced
1 tsp each of cumin and coriander powder
1 tbsp paprika
1 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
½ tsp salt
200ml coconut milk
400g can chopped tomatoes
100ml fish or chicken broth
1 tbsp lime juice
3 tbsp roughly chopped fresh coriander
For the fish: Combine the fish, lime juice, salt and pepper in a bowl. Cover with cling film and refrigerate for 20 minutes.
For the broth: Heat a large pan over a medium high and add 1½ tbsp olive oil. Add the garlic and onion and cook for 1½ minutes or until the onion is starting to become translucent.
Add the bell peppers and cook for 2 minutes.
Add the remaining broth ingredients. Bring to simmer then turn down to medium.
Add the salmon chunks, stir to coat and simmer gently for 20 minutes or until the sauce thickens and the salmon is tender. Adjust salt and pepper to taste.
My rubbish phone picture really doesn’t do this dish justice but for something I rustled up out of odds and ends in the fridge, it tastes and smells incredible! The rich, spicy sauce is perfect for dunking fresh garlicky bread into.
Serves 1 as a main, 2 as a side
1 cooking chorizo, case removed and sliced
1 garlic clove, grated
1/2 red pepper, chopped
1 Tbsp tomato puree
3 cherry tomatoes, chopped
dash of balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper
1 Tbsp fresh basil
Handful of spinach
Strong goats cheese
Garlic bread, to serve
Heat the oven to 200C. Place a frying pan over medium heat and add the sliced chorizo. Cook the chorizo gently until it begins to release its oils. Flip the slices and continue to fry until beginning to brown. Drain and set aside.
Discard most of the chorizo oil from the pan but keep a little to fry the garlic and peppers in until slightly softened. Add the tomato puree, chopped tomatoes, balsamic, seasoning and basil to the pan and cook for a couple of minutes. Put the spinach in the pan along with a dash of water and cover the pan so the spinach wilts.
Return the chorizo to the pan and stir everything well to combine. Transfer to a little baking dish. Top with crumbled goats cheese.
Place the dish on a baking tray long with some garlic bread and bake in the oven for 12 minutes until the cheese is bubbling and the garlic bread is crispy.
Remove from the oven and try to resist the temptation of shoving it in your mouth instantly. This will result in searing pain although it would be totally justified and expected once you smell how amazing this is!
This dish would work really well with any bread or even as a stir through sauce for pasta as the meaty juices would combine beautifully.
Slow cooked tender beef that pulls apart in a delicious herby, winey, rich tomato sauce intertwines with buttery cheesy pasta for a proper comfort meal that’s packed with flavour. This recipe makes a huge amount and if you do have any leftovers, they taste even better the next day!
1 ¾ pounds beef shin, in 2-inch cubes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 sprigs rosemary, plus 1 tablespoon finely chopped leaves for garnish
2 sprigs sage
1 small red onion, peeled and cut in chunks
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 carrot, peeled and thickly sliced
1 celery stalk, thickly sliced
2 cups red wine
2 400g can peeled whole cherry or plum tomatoes
1 pound pappardelle
3 tablespoons butter
½ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
Season beef with salt and pepper to taste. Place a heavy cast iron pan over medium-high heat, and add olive oil. When oil is hot, add beef. Stir until beef is well browned on all sides, about 5 minutes. Add rosemary and sage sprigs, onion, garlic, carrot and celery. Reduce heat to medium-low and sauté until vegetables are softened, about 5 minutes.
Add the wine and continue to simmer until liquid has reduced by half, about 15 minutes. Add tomatoes and their juices. Bring contents of pot to a simmer. Place in an oven preheated to 140C, covered, or on the stove over the lowest heat for 2 to 3 hours.
Using two forks, shred the meat and vegetables. Discard herb stems. Loosely cover pan and return it to low heat to keep warm.
Place a large pot of lightly salted water over high heat to bring to a boil. Add pappardelle to boiling water. As it cooks, scoop out 1/2 cup water and reserve. Cook pasta to taste then drain well. Return pasta to pot and add butter and 1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano; mix gently until butter has melted. Add a little reserved cooking water to loosen.
To serve, lift pasta into each of six shallow bowls. Spoon beef ragù over top. Sprinkle each bowl with a pinch of rosemary, and a spoonful of cheese.