I am constantly thinking of dishes that are a complete meal made in one pot. What’s not to like about them? There’s little washing up, no need for separately cooking pasta, potatoes or rice, and they’re usually fast. Perfect for busy households.
I went to make Chicken Cacciatore – that dependable classic – recently. I was tired after a long day at work, with a hungry, whiny child to feed. Feeling weary at the prospect of also having to cook the pasta, I decided to add some stock to the casserole and cook the pasta with it. I don’t know if I can go back now.
This will be enough for about 4 people. Leftovers can be frozen.
1 onion, diced
1 clove garlic, peeled and squashed
1 kilo skinless chicken pieces (buy them skinned and save time, but don’t use fillets, you want pieces on the bone)
2 celery stalks thinly sliced, plus the centre yellow stalks and leaves, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped rosemary
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1 fresh bay leaf
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
2 tins of 440 gram organic diced tomatoes
500 ml chicken stock (you can use water if you don’t have any stock, the flavour won’t be quite the same though)
1.5 cups medium sized dried pasta, such as shells, or elbows
Season the chicken pieces with a little salt and pepper. In a heavy based pot or casserole dish that has a lid, heat some olive oil and over a medium heat, brown the chicken pieces on each side. You’ll need to do this in a few batches.
Put chicken pieces on a plate as they are browned.
Using the same pan as the chicken, sauté the onion, garlic clove and celery until soft, about 5 minutes, stirring around consistently.
Add the parsley, bay leaf, rosemary and paprika and stir. Add the tomatoes, chicken pieces, stock, and pasta. Bring gently to the boil, then reduce heat to the lowest possible, cover, and cook for 30 minutes, checking once or twice to ensure things aren’t sticking, or furiously bubbling.
I let this cool down a bit before serving, allowing the pasta to expand a little more. I like to serve this topped with chopped parsley, and some garlicky crostini on the side for dipping.