I will try any food at least once because otherwise how will I know if I love it or loathe it, or just find it somewhere in between the two? Without this policy I would have never discovered my penchant for pickled herring, been completely underwhelmed by crocodile, or chowed down on grasshoppers… bugs really don’t taste too bad, I promise you, and they make for a hilarious cocktail party conversation. But not every bite has to be so out of the box, sometimes it’s just nice to rediscover flavours you thought you didn’t like but maybe now you do…
Like carrots. A lot of people know I have an unnatural dislike of orange vegetables (sweet potato, pumpkin, squash…) but in the last few years carrots have somehow broken free of this ban and now I eat them all the time. Recently sun-dried tomatoes and olives have also joined these ranks… though after two weeks in Morocco, I’m taking it easy on the olives for a while. I remember dabbling in the sun-dried tomatoes and olives in my late teens, I was pretending to be sophisticated but it didn’t really work so I promptly gave them up. Then sometime around my mid twenties they made a reappearance and have been in the good books ever since.
I used to find their flavour a little too strong but now they don’t seem quite so overpowering… Oh I dare say, perhaps my tastebuds have matured along with the rest of me! I’m partial to ordering an antipasti platter when I want something to nibble on when out for a couple of drinks, but at home I’m more likely to be throwing the sun-dried tomatoes and olives into my cooking for a bit of a flavour boost.
One of my favourite meals to throw together on a weeknight is my Mediterranean style chicken stew – it’s a hearty one pot wonder! As we weren’t planning on having any antipasti platters in the near future, I opted for this handy combo pack from Unearthed which contained just the right amount of their sun-drenched tomatoes and a selection of olives. It also came with some artichokes which the chef may or may not have snacked on whilst cooking!
Mediterranean Chicken Stew (Connie’s Version)
- 600g chicken thighs and/or drumsticks, approximately 2-3 pieces per person
- 1 shallot, finely chopped
- 2-3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 100g chorizo, sliced
- 1 capsicum, sliced
- 1 tin of whole plum tomatoes
- 100ml water
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon worcestershire sauce
- a handful of sun-drenched tomatoes, add more or less to suit
- a handful of olives, add more or less to suit
- 1 teaspoon chilli flakes
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- salt and pepper to season
- rice or orzo pasta to serve
Preheat your oven to 180˚c and heat a dash of olive oil in a large oven proof fry pan on your stove.
Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper then place skin side down and cook until the skin is lightly brown and crispy. Remove from pan and set aside to finish cooking later.
Into the hot pan add the shallots, garlic, capsicum, and chorizo; cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly to ensure the garlic doesn’t burn.
Add the tomatoes, water, sugar, worcestershire sauce, sun-drenched tomatoes, olives, chilli flakes, and paprika; stir gently, breaking up the tomatoes a little then reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
At this point, give the sauce a taste; you might need to add a little salt or pepper or crank up the spice with the chilli flakes – it’s completely up to your taste preference.
Now pop the chicken pieces on top of the sauce, I like to submerge mine a little and bake in the oven for around 20 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.
Serve with a side of rice or orzo pasta!
So what flavours are you discovering or rediscovering? Was it something you hated as a child but now find you’re rather fond of?!