I like to go for a menu that I know means I can enjoy the party (well a good old catch-up with our mates Nic & Dave – who happen to look a bit like posh and Becks). Who wants to be running out to attend to a flaming souffle or cracked Macarons? Definitely not me.
Britalian Kitchen’s crispy mushrooms with Italian flag dip
This is what is what I’m talking about. Prepare the pea dip ahead. Everything else takes minutes to prepare and cook when you need them
Jamie’s Hunter’s chicken stew
As the man himself says, ‘It looks after itself in the oven.’ Always a winning attribute for me when having guests.
2 kg chicken jointed, or use the equivalent amount of chicken pieces
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 bay leaves
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
3 garlic cloves, peeled (1 crushed, 2 sliced)
1/2 a bottle Chianti
flour, for dusting
extra virgin olive oil
6 anchovy fillets
a handful of green or black olives stoned
2 x 400g tins good-quality plum tomatoes
1 Season the chicken pieces with salt and freshly ground black pepper and put them into a bowl. Add the bay leaves and rosemary sprigs and the crushed garlic clove of garlic cover with the wine and leave to marinade for at least an hour, but preferably overnight in the fridge.
2 Preheat your oven to 180’C/ 350’F/ gas 4. Drain the chicken, reserving the marinade, and pat dry with kitchen paper. Dust the chicken pieces with flour and shake off the excess. Heat an ovenproof pan, add a splash of oil, fry the chicken pieces until browned lightly all over [I didn’t have a large enough flameproof oven pan, so I transferred the meat into saucepans for this stage] and put to one side.
3 Place the pan [or the largest saucepan you have] back on the heat and add the sliced garlic. Fry gently until golden brown, the add the achovies, olives and tomatoes (broken up with a wooden spoon) and the chicken pieces with their reserved marinade. Bring to the boil, cover with a lid or a double thickness of foil [or bring to the boil, then transfer to an ovenproof dish and cover with the foil] and bake in the oven for 1 1/2 hours.
4 Skim off any oil that’s collected on top of the sauce, then stir to taste and add a little salt and pepper if neccessary. Remove the bay leaves and rosemary sprigs, and serve with a salad [and bread for mopping up all those lovely juices!], or some cannellini beans, and plenty of Chianti.
Recipe: Pollo alla cacciatora from Jamie’s Italy by Jamie Oliver
Britalian kitchen’s cheat’s panacotta with couture chocolate curls
And for dessert, another one to prepare ahead. Just whip them out when you’re ready [the desserts!].