I love my brother dearly – for two reasons. He’s the only brother I had and he had the biggest heart. Up until he became ill, my brother wandered around the city caring for stray cats. He fed them, made sure they had fresh water and even took them to the vet when they got sick. In an effort to cut down on the stray cat population, he captured those he could to have them spayed or neutered – all out of his own pocket. My brother didn’t make much – he worked as a delivery person for our town’s only paper by day and drove a taxi by night. As a taxi driver, he would pick one passenger each night to give a free ride to, based on conversation or circumstance. He didn’t let them know the ride was free until they had reached their final destination. Generally, he picked someone that struck a cord with him, someone he was able to relate to on some personal level. Like the young mother who wanted to surprise her Airman husband returning from a tour of duty and needed a lift to an Air Force Base in another city. She was excited to see her husband, but worried about the cost of a taxi ride. He thought of our parents when they were newly weds and liked to think that someone would have helped them. You can see why I love my brother. More than that, I admired him. In so many ways, he was and still is my hero.
My brother lived with Hubby, Kiddo and I for a while. When he became very ill, he moved in with our younger sister, a retired school teacher who lives in a small town two-hours north of here. She was in a better position to care for him in his final days. Our brother has been fitted with an LVAD (it’s a heart pump for transplant candidates to keep them going as they wait for a new heart). While waiting for a heart, our brother was diagnosed with cancer. Every minute we spent with him from that point forward was borrowed time that we will forever be grateful for. Every time I saw my brother, he asked the same question “What was that chicken you make with the olives? The one I really liked.” My baby brother was the pickiest eater on the planet. When he “really” liked something other than burgers and pizza, it’s high praise indeed! His favorite dish was my Spanish Chicken with Mushrooms and Green Olives. He always smiled when I answered him, remembering it fondly. Since his passing, whenever I make this dish I know he is smiling down at me. When I get to heaven, I’m going to make it for him again.
Spanish Chicken with Mushrooms & Green Olives
1 Can condensed Tomato Soup
1 1/2 tablespoons Italian Seasoning
1 tablespoon Dried Oregano
1 Teaspoon Garlic Powder
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 package Chicken Thighs, about 1 lb
2 Cups Fresh Mushrooms, sliced (about 6 oz)
½ Cup Water
½ cup wine red wine
¼ to ½ Cup California Pimento-Stuffed Green Olives (more to taste)
In a bowl, mix soup with Italian Seasoning, Oregano and Garlic Powder. Set aside until ready to use.
Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large, high-sided skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken and cook until browned on both sides, about 5-6 minutes per side. Remove and place on warmed serving platter, tent to keep warm. If necessary, you can brown your chicken in batches, adding a bit more olive oil as necessary. Just remember, your skillet has to be large enough to hold everything including the sauce once the chicken has been browned.
Reduce heat to medium. Add remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Cook mushrooms until tender and liquid has evaporated, stirring often.
Stir in soup mixture, water, olives and wine. Heat to boiling. Return chicken to skillet. Reduce heat to low; cover and cook 15-20 minutes or until chicken is tender and is no longer pink, stirring occasionally. Remove chicken to serving dish, keep warm. Increase heat, stirring sauce until slightly reduced and thickened, about 5-8 minutes. Pour sauce over chicken and serve.
Serve with plenty of warm bread to soak up all the goodness of the sauce.
Note: This can also be made with a combo pack of breast, thighs and legs – just cut the breast meat in half to make the chicken more uniformed in size.