new flavours, new inspiration


over the past few weeks my cooking mojo has been a bit elusive. too many longstanding and faithful dishes have been the focus of my cooking and, while some have continued to be truly fabulous, i’ve been feeling thoroughly uninspired by others.

time for action! i spent a few hours at the weekend going through a couple of magazines and a pile of torn/printed out recipes and drew up a hit list. top of which was a skye gyngell recipe for chicken with orange peel, black olives, tomatoes and thyme.

orange is not something i use very often to flavour savoury dishes, relying more on lemon for a citrus tang, so it was nice to try something a little different. the peel is added to the sauce and it gives it a subtle fragrant taste, which lightens the more traditional casserole flavours and injects a hint of sunny days yet to come.

chicken casserole with orange and thyme* (serves 3-4)

6-8 chicken thighs

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil

300ml white wine

200g mushrooms, cleaned and quartered

3 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed

1 red chilli, deseeded and chopped

1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves

2 bay leaves

the peel of one orange

400g tin of chopped tomatoes

a handful of kalamata olives

a handful of flat-leaf parsley, chopped

season the chicken generously all over. heat the olive oil in a large pan and brown the chicken pieces all over really well – you will need to do this in batches.

as the pieces are done, remove them from the pan and set aside. at this point i removed the chicken skin and discarded it, for a healthier dish, but this is optional. pour off any fat left in the pan and return it to the heat. deglaze with the wine, allowing the alcohol to splutter, boil and reduce by a third.

add the mushrooms, garlic, chilli, thyme, bay leaves, tomatoes, orange peel and olives. return the chicken to the pan, turn down the heat, place a lid on and cook for a further 20 to 25 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through. add the parsley, stir well, check for seasoning, remove the bay leaves and serve.

we ate this with warm ciabatta, fresh from the oven.

* based on a skye gyngell recipe