Chicken Cacciatore and…A Little Bit of Help

Life has so many ups and downs and at some stage most of us will walk head-on into a situation that is unavoidable, unpleasant and pretty much unmanageable.  However, there’s definitely a scale and at the moment all of my head-ons are paling into insignificance when I think about the situation my friends are facing.

When I say ‘friends’, I mean we have never shared a meal together nor are they even on my Christmas card list but for the past couple of years we have been attending the same church and that is where our relationship with them has had its beginnings.

Chicken Cacciatore

Chicken Cacciatore

They are a couple with three sons and a few years ago the wife was diagnosed with a very rare type of untreatable and incurable lung disease where gradually over time it becomes increasingly more difficult to breathe.  In the last few months her condition has severely worsened causing her to have to be on permanent oxygen therapy.  I last saw her at church about six weeks ago and she sat in a seat right in front of us.  Alfie became so distressed at seeing her suffering that every night when I put him to bed he reminds me that we must pray for her.  And together we send up a few prayers.

Over the last few weeks she has, very sadly, rapidly gone downhill with severe pulmonary hypertension being added in to the mix and she is now in hospital in intensive care where all that can be done for her is being done.  She is on the list for a lung transplant and while we don’t wish death upon anyone, the reality is people do die.  And Alfie and I are just praying that any available lungs will be a perfect match for this beautiful wife and mother.

As well as saying our prayers, our church leaders have said it would be very helpful for the family if some home-cooked meals could be delivered to their door.  I’m sure that like me, you all know what it’s like to have family members in hospital.  It’s so difficult to eat right and skipping meals becomes normal and you just don’t get to do food shopping or have time to cook.  Some home-cooked heat-and-serve meals can be just the answer.

Chicken Cacciatore sprinkled with olives and home-grown parsley

Chicken Cacciatore sprinkled with olives and home-grown parsley

Alfie is on school holidays and yesterday he asked me if I could take him to Luna Park.  I said, ‘Alfie, we can’t just say prayers for our friend, we have to help out in a practical way too’.  And so we put Luna Park on hold and he helped me go food shopping and then come home and cook.

We made a chicken cacciatore and packaged it up in some disposable containers with a box of pasta and a bottle of red wine to have with it and then a raspberry cheesecake for dessert.  I appreciate that this is just a very small offering on our part and there are so many others doing so much more for this family including help with the boys and cleaning their house etc.

What I really hope comes from this Italian dish and American dessert above some calories and a bit of nutrition is that the family knows people are thinking of them.

Baked Raspberry Cheesecake

Baked Raspberry Cheesecake

The cheesecake is the same as Mum’s Baked Cheesecake however instead of grating nutmeg over it I piled on the fresh raspberries.

Chicken Cacciatore

Serves:  6

Degree of Difficulty:  2/5

Cost:  This is a modestly priced family meal where all ingredients are readily available.

  • 2 tbspns olive oil
  • 6 chicken drumsticks
  • 6 chicken thigh cutlets
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 4 rashers of bacon, rind removed, chopped
  • 2 sticks of celery, finely chopped
  • 2 carrots finely chopped
  • 150mls dry white wine
  • 800g (28 oz) tinned tomatoes
  • 250mls (1 cup) chicken stock
  • a large handful of Swiss Brown mushrooms, halved
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2/3 cup pitted kalamata olives
  • handful of parsley, chopped

Pre-heat oven to 180C (375F).

Heat olive oil in a large oven-proof dish (I used my Le Creuset) on medium-high heat.  Add chicken in batches and brown on all sides then remove and set aside.  In the same pan add onion, garlic, bacon, celery and carrots and cook for 10 minutes or until softened.  Return chicken to pan and add white wine and bring to the boil.  When the alcohol has evaporated, add tomatoes, stock, mushrooms and bay leaf.  Place lid on pot and place in the oven.  Cook for 30 minutes.

Remove from the oven and add olives.  Return to the oven for 10 minutes without the lid.

Sprinkle parsley over top of chicken dish and serve on heated plates with a short pasta like penne.

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  1. Bless you, Charlie, I’m sure they’re going to greatly appreciate the love and care you’ve put into this meal for them.. xxx

  2. What a wonderful gift to send some of your beautifully cooked food. Food is the universal language of caring, and will be so much appreciated for this family. At such times, people need to withdraw their energy from the basics of life like shopping, cooking and cleaning, and focus on the big challenge. I’m sure they will feel very loved from your offering, and you are teaching Alfie about kindness.

  3. I’m sure that beautiful cake will elicit a smile (even if it is the smallest of smiles) from those in need, and I bet that cacciatore tastes amazing. How really lovely of you, and of Alfie to come along and help out despite the temptation of Luna Park – a valuable lesson learned there I think.

  4. That’s just what they need too – a random act of kindness – and what could be better than the love that goes into preparing food for others. I bet it was very much appreciated.

  5. thanks for this

  6. It’s great that Alfie was involved because its so important for our youngsters to care and feel. He a good little boy. I am sure our delicious cacciatore was much appreciated and who wouldn’t want some cheesecake to keep their spirits up? Praying for your friend and her family.

    Nazneen xx

  7. I’ll join you and Alfie in those prayers for new lungs for your friend. It must horrible to struggle to breathe and difficult for her family to be unable to help. Poor thing.

    I know your gesture meant a lot to them. Good for you for thinking of sending wine as well.

  8. My heart goes out to that family Charlie; people at my Mom’s church were very lovely when my dad suddenly passed away, someone even brought me a cake as I was celebrating my 18th birthday six days after he passed. How nice that you and Alfie are so generous, and what a great lesson for Alfie. Chicken cacciatore is on of JTs specialties and a favourite in our house.

  9. What a sad story. A work colleague was telling me a similar tale about a friend of hers in Melbourne, a mother of two young boys, who has an untreatable brain tumour. These sorts of situations are heartbreaking – good on you for helping how you can and being a source of support xo

  10. You’re a good soul and I’m sure your lovely gesture is appreciated. It’s so hard to know what to say in these circumstances isn’t it but actions always speak louder than words. How thoughtful to leave pasta and red wine too.

  11. Oh, Charlie, what a sweet and caring son you have to ask to pray for this woman, to help shop for groceries. And you, so sweet to prepare this meal. I remember what it was like to be recovering from hip replacement surgery and to have those home-cooked meals brought. So nourishing and uplifting.

    God bless you and Alfie and your friend and her family.

  12. What a blessing you are to your ‘friends’ from church. A meal and some prayers can go a long way!! Church family is such a treasure!!! xo

  13. This is so sweet!! I love bringing people from my church meals when they have babies or have surgery…they always seem overly joyed 🙂

  14. OH my I am so so so sorry for your friend. I’ll be thinking about her as well! You did such a good thing by bringing the family food…it’s a small offering but a sweet one.

  15. Food made and provided with love is a great gift. Nicely done, Charlie.

  16. I hate hearing stories like this but they’re all around us 🙁 Your kind gift of a delicious meal was the best thing you could offer this family…along with your prayers. Bless you, Charlie. xo

  17. just mouthwatering….looks delicious!

  18. I agree with an earlier poster who said that a simple random act of kindness is always appreciated. You can’t start a closer relationship with the family at this time but your prayers and a good meal will be greatly appreciated.

    I think the lesson of kindness and thinking of others that you are giving Archie is just as important to help your children become adults who show compassion.

  19. Heartwarming recipe and post… I hope your act of kindness blessed your friend’s family as much as it did me just now. Hugs to Alfie, too!

  20. How kind of you Charlie. The family would forever appreciate your kindness. These periods can be so difficult, and food eases it in ways that is difficult to put in words. Such a comforting food too.

  21. The lottery of life can be so cruel. Cooking for your friends is a great way to help out and what I always do. When there is so much sadness around you justl wish you could do something.

  22. A home cooked meal in circumstances like this is so much more than just a feed. I know this family will appreciate your thoughtfulness and you are teaching Alfie a valuable lesson.

  23. The thoughts and love you and Alfie put into preparing and delivering the meal was greatly appreciated by the family I am sure. Baked Raspberry Cheesecake, a perfect ending to a delicious meal.

  24. Such a thoughtful gesture! I love chicken cacciatore!

  25. G’day Charlie…sorry to hear about your friends, true!
    WISH there were more people in the world that are truly genuine and this caring too…is great you can share something “not so good in life” with Alfie…with your cake made with love too!
    Cheers! Joanne

  26. In times of illness and emergency, an act of kindness like this means so much. How wonderful that Alfie was involved as well.

  27. What a lovely gesture, Charlie. Chicken cacciatore is one of my faves, especially when I’m feeling run down, so I’m sure it will greatly appreciated (as will the cheesecake). I hope things turn a corner for this family soon too.

  28. Oh Charlie that’s so sad about your friend 🙁 What a lovely, sensitive boy Alfie is and good on you for showing him to help in practical ways.

  29. Charlie you’re a beautiful person 🙂 And I’m sure the family will appreciate and be forever grateful for the homecooked meal and cheesecake that you made for them.

    I will also pray and think of the lady and really really hope that a suitable lung will be available for her soon. xox

  30. I’m really sorry to hear about your friend. Alfie is so caring and you raised him to be a wonderful boy. Your kind gesture and support must be greatly appreciated. I also send prayers to her and her family.

  31. Very thoughtful gesture.

  32. How devastating. The family is in my thoughts, too. x

  33. What a sad story, I can’t imagine the families grief.
    …food is probably the only thing you can do to help and you did it spectacularly Charlie… good on you.
    …no more sad stories please 🙁

  34. What a sweet heart Alfie must have, and what a great way to teach him about practical love by letting him share in the food prep too. I’ll be joining you and Alfie in praying for a miracle for your friends xox

  35. That’s so lovely that Alfie is so caring.
    I’m sure your wonderful food offerings were much appreciated. x

  36. God bless you, Charlie, and much love and light across the miles to your friend and her family xxx

  37. What a heartfelt meal you prepared for your friends Charlie. Such a difficult time for the family. Hope there are donor lungs fitting for your friend soon.
    🙂 Mandy xo

  38. so sad… I understand why your son is so distress, I would be too. What a great idea with the homemade meals too. An illness can eat upa whole family and the support from other sin the community can be a huge blessing. You are a wonderfull woman to help them out charlie!

  39. So sorry to hear about your friend! Her disease sounds awful. Very nice of you to put together such a wonderful meal for her family – I’m sure it was much appreciated. It certainly looks terrific in the pictures.

  40. Very sad, but home cooked meals are such a kind gesture!

  41. How thoughtful of you to help in any way you can, and how sweet of Alfie, who is obviously learning such good values from you.

  42. How lovely that you are teaching Alfie the importance of providing practical care when we are aware of a need. This is quite a need. I am truly sorry for this family’s current crisis, and hope that perhaps your friend will be able to have the necessary transplant. I have a friend with serious lung disease, and have seen some of what that entails, and it is really terrible. I’m sure the family truly enjoyed your wonderful home cooked meal. In addition to being very tasty, it would be a big comfort. ox

  43. what a lovely soul you are! im sure the family would be very happy with u and Alfie’s support!

  44. Grand gestures are wonderful and important, but it is in the day-to-day that people sometimes need the most help, where the help is sometimes lacking.Your friend will know her husband and sons are taken care of for yet another meal. It means they will all know you are there for them and thinking of them. I think your gesture was lovely.

  45. I love chicken cacciatore, but I won’t let me wife fix it because she leaves quite the mess for me to clean!

  46. What a sweet and caring boy your Alfie is. He’ll remember how you taught him to love and care for other people, even if he isn’t “close” to them.

    The chicken cacciatore looks yummy!

  47. Oh hun that is just awful for your friends and her family. But you and Alfie show what beautiful souls you are. xx

  48. It’s amazing the comfort that good, hearty home-cooked food can bring Charlie – you’re a very kind person to do such a thing. It’s such a tragedy about your friend – I hope that she is able to get a transplant 🙁

  49. ChgoJohn says:

    Sorry, Charlie, to read of your friend’s illness. I think it wonderful that your community has responded so thoughtfully, providing not just food but a variety of “services”. Your recipe is a good one and I’m sure the family loved the dish.

  50. What a beautiful gesture. I have no doubt it was appreciated. And please give Alfie a hug for me…what a doll he is! I’m tearing up.

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