rustic chicken and pepper pasta sauce

In my book rustic at the start of a recipe means you can chop lazily, and plate up sloppily. A lot of what I make is most definitely rustic.

This is a nice rich pasta sauce, ideal served with pappardelle or if you’re feeling particularly lazy and can’t be bothered swirling a fork a nice short fat pasta.

what you need: (serves 4)

  • 4 chicken breasts (skinless)
  • 2 peppers (red or yellow)
  • 2 red onions
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 4 big carrots
  • 2 sticks celery
  • 2 bay leaves
  • sprig of rosemary
  • olive oil
  • 2 tins chopped tomatoes

what you do:

  • preheat oven to 180C
  • heat a good drizzle of olive oil in a large oven proof pan
  • chop the chicken into bitesize chunks and start to brown in the pan on a low heat
  • peel and chop the onion and carrots add them to the pan
  • finely chop the celery and add to the pan
  • throw in the cloves of garlic whole and unpeeled
  • roughly chop the peppers and add them to the pan
  • once the chicken is starting to cook and the vegetables softened add the tinned tomatoes a tin of water, sprig of rosemary, bay leaves, salt & pepper.
  • place the pan into the oven and cook for around 2 hours.

to serve:

Swirl into cooked pasta, sprinkle with parmesan or a nice zesty gremolata of rosemary and lemon. Also nice just as it is with the addition of crusty bread, perhaps a glass of red.


chicken thyme casserole

This is a basic, really easy to make and filling chicken casserole. It easily serves four with leftovers making a pie filling for four for another meal – it’s frugal!

what you need:

  • 4 chicken breasts – skinless (or use 6-8 thigh fillets – skinless)
  • 2 large onions
  • 6 big carrots
  • 2 leeks
  • glass of wine (if wish – otherwise make up difference with stock)
  • 1 pint chicken stock
  • handful of thyme leaves or couple of teaspoons of dried thyme
  • 2 cloves of garlic finely chopped
  • for the dumplings – 4 tbs plain flour, 4 tbs self-raising flour, 1/4 pk butter, tsp dried oregano.

what you do:

  • preheat the oven to 180C
  • warm a splash of olive oil in a large oven proof pan – chop the chicken in to chunks and throw it in the pan to start cooking.
  • peel and chop the onions and garlic and add them to the pan.
  • slice the leeks and carrots add to the pan
  • pour in the wine if using
  • add the chicken stock and a hand full of thyme leaves – season with salt & pepper
  • transfer pan to the oven and cook for around 2 hours
  • when there is 45 minutes remaining add the dumplings


  • put the flours and butter into a mixing bowl and rub the butter into the flour with your fingers until it looks like breadcrumbs.
  • add the oregano and season with salt and pepper
  • tip in cold water and drop at a time and mix into a firm dough
  • take ping-pong sized chunks of dough and roll between floured hands into a ball shape.
  • add the dumplings to the stew when there is 45 minutes cooking time remaining – when adding them check liquid level and if necessary top up with boiling water.

to serve:

this casserole is lovely with parsnip & parmesan mash or simple mashed potatoes, chips or perhaps a roast potato or five….

leftover stew can be used as a pie filling making another meal – simply reheat filling – add pie crust & bake in the oven for 20 minutes.