Continuing my culinary journey I’m trying out my sixteenth recipe from Miss Dahl’s Voluptuous Delights, 'Chicken stew with green olives'. You can find the recipe on page 188 in the ‘Spring suppers’ section. I’ve been longing to make this, waiting patiently for the first fennel to come into season.
My anticipation isn’t surprising when you read Sophie’s introduction to the stew. She says that:
“There’s something about those plump green Italian olives that sings of spring. Plus it’s simple. A kitchen supper with the doors thrown open, accompanied by a good summery white wine, probably Pouilly – Fuisse.”
I would concur, this really is a simple recipe, but the combination of chicken, fennel, garlic, white wine, chopped tomatoes, green olives and fresh basil ,works together, so well.
It reminded me of food I’ve had in Paris, or the North of France in little cafes and bistro’s. It has a kind of retro feel, you know when you eat something new but you think ‘I know this, I’ve had it before’ and you get a kind of faint, nostalgic feeling but can’t exactly put your finger on when or where you’ve tasted those flavours before.
It smacked of Moulin Rouge and meals I’ve eaten in the middle of thunderstorms in kitchens with rickety wooden conservatoires in the suburb of Paris when I was very young, not used to drinking, and everyone would give us pink champagne because it was cheap, and we were visitors they wanted to treat us; and I fell in love with Paris, the food and everyone I met. A culinary coup de foudre.
Not only is this a great spring dish, If you can get hold of fennel I think it would make a great summer, autumn or even winter supper. It should be in season until October. It’s weird but it has something a little bit special, well it did for me…I would definitely give this recipe a 10+ out of 10 and will be making it often. Highly recommended.
The process of making this stew is really simple. Browning and softening the chicken in olive oil for fifteen minutes.
Then adding the wine and canned tomatoes and continuing to cook.
(I popped some Jersey New Potatoes into the stew at the same time I returned the chicken to save boiling them separately.) Finally adding the olives and fresh basil the last few minutes before serving.
I served with the new potatoes and garden peas, frozen as we haven't got fresh one yet, but I think they taste just as good.
This is lovely followed by one of those home made deconstructed kind of deserts, fool-proof Madeira cake, gooseberry fool from the garden, custard and mulberry coolie (still going strong from last summer)…mmm… perfect…