Neil Perry’s Spanish-style Chicken Casserole



With the nights finally getting a tad cooler, it is time for a bit of hearty autumn comfort food. No one does it better than Neil Perry, and the new edition of his classic, The Food I Love (Murdoch Books), brings us “beautiful, simple food to cook at home.” Neil’s delicious recipe for Spanish-style Chicken Casserole from the book is a perfect way to discover the Perry magic. 

This dish is incredibly simple, and lots of garlic and paprika give it a real Spanish feel. If you wish, you could remove the skin from the chicken, but it doesn’t produce quite as good a flavour. You can also use chicken breast if you like, and cut the cooking time down to about half an hour. Remember the breast is leaner, so it won’t be as moist.


6 free-range chicken legs

80 ml (21/2 fl oz/1/3 cup) extra virgin olive oil

1 brown onion, roughly chopped

2 garlic cloves, crushed

3 teaspoons smoky sweet paprika

sea salt

1 red capsicum (pepper), sliced

250 ml (9 fl oz/1 cup) dry sherry

400 g (14 oz) can peeled tomatoes, roughly chopped

2 tablespoons tomato paste (purée)

125 g (41/2 oz/3/4 cup) green olives, pitted and halved

1 large handful flat-leaf (Italian) parsley

1 lemon

freshly ground pepper

Put the chicken legs on a chopping board and separate the thighs from the drumsticks. Heat the extra virgin olive oil in a large, deep saucepan with a tight-fitting lid and add the chicken in batches. Cook over medium heat for 4 minutes, or until browned, then remove. Add the onion, garlic, 2 teaspoons of the paprika, some sea salt and the capsicum. Cook for 5–8 minutes, or until soft.

Add the sherry and cook for 2 minutes, or until slightly reduced and the alcohol is burnt off. Add the tomato and tomato paste, stir well and cook for 2 minutes. Return the chicken to the pan and add 250 ml (9 fl oz/1 cup) water. Gently simmer, covered, for 1 hour, then uncover and cook for 15 minutes. Add the olives and parsley, cook for a further minute, then remove from the heat. Sprinkle the chicken with the remaining paprika, squeeze lemon juice over and give a good grind of pepper. Divide among four bowls and serve.

Serves 4


  • Steamed rice, couscous or polenta would be a perfect accompaniment to this dish (like all the other braised dishes, with cauliflower, pine nut and raisin gratin on the side. I also wouldn’t mind this with potato or parsnip purée.