One-pot dinners are a home cook's best friend. The mission: Get dinner on the table without much fuss--and should there be leftovers, they must be delicious the following day.
When I was working my way up as a chef, this is a dish I made often for staff meals. The stew was a crowd-pleaser then, and remains a favorite with my family. If you're really pressed for time, skip the flour-dredging step. Just be sure to brown the chicken thoroughly, and it will still taste amazing, though the sauce might be slightly thinner.
Let the chicken come to room temperature, then pat the pieces dry and season with salt and pepper. Place the flour in a shallow, flat container and dredge the chicken in the flour, shaking off any excess. Set aside.
In a large heavy-bottomed skillet or a Dutch oven designed for braising, heat the oil over medium-high heat for 1 minute. Add the butter, let it melt and heat until it begins to turn brown, about 2 minutes. Add the chicken and cook until browned on all sides, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer the chicken to a large platter and set aside.
Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the fat from the skillet and return the skillet to the stovetop over medium-high heat. Add the shallots and garlic and cook, stirring, until softened, about 1 minute. Add the wine and deglaze the pan, scraping the brown bits off the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon, and cook until the wine has reduced by half, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the stock and tomatoes and raise the heat to high and bring the liquid to a boil. The add the potatoes, olives, capers, and thyme, and stir to combine. Bring the liquid to a boil again, then reduce the heat to low so the liquid is simmering, and return the chicken to the pan. Cover and cook until the chicken is tender and the potatoes can be easily pierced with a knife, 25 to 35 minutes.
To serve, place one chicken leg and one thigh in each of four shallow bowls. Spoon the sauce on top, getting some of the tomatoes, potatoes, olives and capers in each portion. Serve immediately.
Yield:2 1/2 quarts
Place the chicken, carrots, celery, onion, parsley and thyme in an 8-quart stockpot. Add enough water to come up to 2 inches from the top of the pot. Place the pot over high heat and bring the liquid to a lively simmer--do not let the liquid boil. As soon as the liquid starts to simmer, reduce the heat so that you maintain a lively simmer throughout. (This could be anywhere from low to medium heat depending on the strength of your range.) Skim off any gray scum that floats to the top of the stock. Cook the stock, uncovered, for about 2 1/2 hours -- it should reduce in volume by one-quarter to one-third. Strain the stock through a fine-mesh strainer into a large bowl or clean stockpot, pressing on the solids in the strainer to extract all the liquid. If you like, season with salt to taste--I prefer to keep my stock salt-free.
Use right away or transfer to air tight containers and refrigerate or freeze. The stock will keep for up to 1 week in the refrigerator or up to 3 months in the freezer.