Chicken: Chicken Casserole with Tomatoes and Spices

posted by Liz Thomas 03-21-101 3:11 AM

Chicken Casserole with Tomatoes and Spices (Greek)
From Greek Food by Rena Salaman

"This recipe is more suitable for a boiling fowl, as with the rather longer simmering required, the aroma of the spices penetrates the meat and enhances its flavour. Also the truth is that a good hen is much more flavoursome than a chicken .

A good boiling fowl or a chicken, jointed
Salt and black pepper
3 tbsp vegetable oil but if a chicken is used add 1 oz butter
1 glass red wine
1 stick cinnamon
3 cloves
2 whole allspice
12 oz fresh tomatoes, peeled and chopped (or 1 14 oz can tomatoes)
1 bay leaf

Wash and dry the chicken pieces. Season with salt and pepper and fry the pieces in a large saucepan in hot vegetable oil or the mixture of oil and butter, until they become golden on both sides. You can also wash and fry the giblets.

Pour the wine slowly all over. Add the spices and tomatoes (if fresh tomatoes are used also add 1/2 pint of hot water for a hen or 1/4 pint for a chicken), more seasoning, cover and simmer for 1 hour for a chicken, or approximately 2 hours for a fowl, according to its age and toughness. Stir occasionally.

You should have a thick aromatic sauce by the end, quite oily. Serve the chicken pieces on top of white rice or any kind of pasta with the sauce over it

Notes: I always use a whole chicken as I find the flavour is better than with joints – I just brown the chicken on all sides in a big heavy frying pan and then transfer it to a casserole. I then briefly sizzle the bayleaf and spices in the oil, add the wine, then the tomatoes and heat through till boiling and pour over the chicken. I then cook in the oven for about 1 1/2 hours on a lowish setting.

When it’s ready I put the chicken on a serving plate and then reduce the sauce to the "oily stage" (if necessary) in a separate pan, and pour it over. I always use a chicken as my chances of finding a “good boiling fowl” out here are about as remote as winning the lottery!

I use olive oil, not vegetable oil, as I suspect the original author of the recipe in Greece would have done.
I add several whole unpeeled cloves of garlic as we like garlic slowly cooked.

Tonight I have also added three whole cardamom pods – it just seemed like a good idea -- and I must say it smells fabulous.

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