Chicken joints braised in white wine, with a lively garlic and orange-zest finish
This is Sicilian inspired and can be sweet-sour (in which case add the raisins) or simply savoury (in which case leave them out). Apart from a quick browning on the stove top, this dish really looks after itself. (Serves 4)
1½ tbsp olive oil
8 chicken thighs, or a chicken jointed into 8 pieces
3 medium red onions, peeled and cut into half-moon-shaped wedges about 1cm (½in) thick at the widest part
2 celery sticks, trimmed and diced
3 garlic cloves, crushed
2 small dried chillis, crumbled
500g (1lb 2oz) baby waxy potatoes, halved
250ml (9fl oz) white wine
finely grated zest of ½ orange, plus juice of 1
75g (2¾oz) raisins, soaked in boiling water for half an hour, then drained (optional)
2 tbsp capers, rinsed
75g (2¾oz) green olives
30g (1oz) pine nuts, toasted
for the gremolata
2 garlic cloves
zest of 1 small orange, removed in strips (cut away any bitter white pith)
leaves from about 10 stems of mint, torn
Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4.Heat the olive oil in a wide oven-proof sauté pan or shallow casserole (large enough to hold the chicken in a single layer – or use two) and brown the chicken on both sides, seasoning as you go. You are just trying to get a good colour, not cook the chicken through. Remove the joints to a dish as they’re ready.
Pour off all but 1 tbsp of oil from the pan and add the onions. Cook over a medium heat to colour, then add the celery, cooking for two minutes before adding the garlic and chilli. Cook for a further minute, add the potatoes and toss them around, then add the wine, orange juice and zest, and the raisins (if using). Put the chicken back (plus any juices that have run out of it), skin-side up in a single layer. Bring to the boil, then turn down the heat to a simmer. Season well and transfer to the oven for 40 minutes.
Add the capers and olives 15 minutes before the end of the cooking time, stirring them in around the chicken joints. The cooking juices will have reduced, the potatoes should be tender and the chicken will be cooked through.
Meanwhile make the gremolata by chopping the garlic and orange zest finely, then mix with the mint. Toss this over the chicken with the toasted pine nuts just before serving. A big watercress salad is all you need on the side – everything else is in the pan.