By Louise Liebenberg
This is another rustic, Mediterranean-style dish inspired by Salvelio’s mum’s cooking. It couldn’t be simpler – just chicken, wine, herbs, mushrooms and veg, but it has an honesty about it that will bolster body and spirit. Salvelio makes it in the Weber to add a lovely smokiness, but you could also do it in the oven at 180 degrees.
Serves 3 to 4
8 pieces of chicken (drumsticks and thighs); 1 onion, chopped; 3 fat cloves of garlic, thinly sliced; 1/2 punnet mushrooms; olive oil for frying, 1/2 punnet of baby carrots; 1/2 red bell pepper, chopped; 6 black peppercorns; 3 to 4 bayleaves; 3/4 cup of white wine (Salvelio likes to use wine with a slight hint of sweetness); 3 potatoes, sliced into thickish rings; handful of fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped; a twig of fresh basil; salt; cooked short-grained rice for serving.
Fry the onion and garlic in olive oil for a bit; add the red bell pepper and fry a bit longer. Now add the mushrooms and fry for a short while till they get a nice colour. Set aside.
Season the chicken portions with salt and fry a bit until browned on all sides (will not be cooked through).
Place the onion, garlic, peppers and mushroom mix in the bottom of a cast-iron pot or oven dish; place the chicken pieces on top. Add the bayleaves and peppercorns, as well as the baby carrots. Season as needed.
Pour the wine over the contents of the dish; top with the slices of potato and season. Top with the parsley and finally layer a twig of fresh basil from the garden over the top – don’t chop it as you’ll simply remove the entire twig when you serve the dish.
Cover and place in the Weber once your coals are ready; cover the Weber and cook the dish for about 1hr 20 minutes, or until chicken is tender and sauce has thickened – you can check on it once or twice to stir it through while it’s cooking. You could also do it in a preheated oven for around an hour and a bit.
A very nice touch is to remove the layer of thick potatoes at the top in the last 10 minutes of cooking; layer them in an oven-proof dish and toss them in a bit of olive oil and salt (if needed). Grill them in the oven till they get a bit of goldenness.
Finally serve the chicken on some cooked short-grained rice and add some of the potatoes.