Lockdown Recipe of the Day: Chicken, Green Olive & Prune Casserole

Lockdown Recipe of the Day: Chicken, Green Olive & Prune Casserole
(Photo: Tony Jackman)

And that’s just the start. This casserole is abrim with flavour, from green olives and prunes to bacon, toasted almonds, orange zest, cinnamon, thyme, garlic, red wine – even honey.

This casserole just zings with flavour. Our late friend John Caviggia’s very Italian papa, Leo, had a staple chicken casserole he’d bring out for John’s dinner parties. I always hoped he’d make it and loved its palate-pleasing combination of all sorts of things, from orange and garlic to olives, bacon and almonds.

Browsing for ideas this week, I came across a Colombian recipe for a chicken casserole that had prunes and orange zest in it, which immediately reminded me of Leo’s dinner party treat. So I took the idea and developed it from there, but Leo’s dish had more, so I added green olives and finished it with toasted almonds. There was honey in the Colombian recipe so I wanted to see how that worked; it adds a hint of golden depth and is a great contrast with the almonds and the bitterness of the olives. It’s a recipe that’s likely to become a regular feature of the family menu.


(Serves 4)

8 chicken pieces (thighs and drumsticks)

3 Tbsp olive oil

1 onion chopped

200g streaky bacon

3 or 4 garlic cloves, sliced thinly (not chopped)

3 thyme sprigs

1 bay leaf

½ tsp ground cinnamon

Zest of 1 orange

1 glass dry red wine

375ml chicken stock

1 Tbsp honey

100g green olives and their brine

Handful prunes, pitted

Handful almonds, toasted

Parsley, chopped, for garnish

Salt and pepper to taste


Using the base of a heavy casserole of Dutch oven, saute the onions and garlic slices in the olive oil until lightly golden. Set aside.

Dice the bacon and fry until crisp. Set aside in a suitable container.

Salt the chicken pieces and brown all over in the same pot, using the remaining fat, and remove to a container.

Return the onion mix to the pan and add the red wine. Stir over a high heat to scoop up all the bits of flavour in the pan.

Return the chicken and bacon to the casserole and add all other ingredients except the almonds and parsley (bay leaf, thyme, cinnamon, orange zest, pitted prunes, green olives and their brine, chicken stock, honey) and season with salt and pepper.

Put the lid on and cook in a 180℃ oven for 1 hour 15 minutes. After the first 45 minutes, remove from the oven, remove the lid, scoop off most of the sauce (put it in a small pot) and return the uncovered casserole to the oven so that the chicken can brown nicely. Reduce the sauce in the small pot to a thick pouring consistency. 

Toast the almonds in a dry pan (be careful that they don’t burn). Spoon the sauce over the dish on the plate when serving, and garnish with chopped parsley. Scatter toasted almonds over. Serve with rice or couscous.

TGIFood Tips: Add olive brine to a marinade of lemon and garlic for lamb chops for the braai, or massage brine into a leg of lamb before roasting it with rosemary and garlic. Mix equal quantities of brine and lemon juice for basting while a lamb roast is cooking. DM/TGIFood

Our Thank God It’s Food newsletter is sent to subscribers every Friday at 6pm, and published on the TGIFood platform on Daily Maverick. It’s all about great reads on the themes of food and life. Subscribe here.

Send your Lockdown Recipes to [email protected] with a hi-resolution horizontal (landscape) photo.

Thank God It’s Food is sponsored by Pick n Pay.

Here’s the inspirational Colombian recipe.


Please peer review 3 community comments before your comment can be posted

We would like our readers to start paying for Daily Maverick...

…but we are not going to force you to. Over 10 million users come to us each month for the news. We have not put it behind a paywall because the truth should not be a luxury.

Instead we ask our readers who can afford to contribute, even a small amount each month, to do so.

If you appreciate it and want to see us keep going then please consider contributing whatever you can.

Support Daily Maverick→
Payment options