I’m back! Did you miss me? I’ve been taking a much needed break from the online world and social media, recharging my batteries after the silly season and planning loads of delicious recipes and other good things for the year ahead. I was lucky enough to bring in 2020 surrounded by family and wonderful friends and this January has just flown past in a blur of happy evenings by the fire, lots of travel, excellent meals (if I do say so myself) and plenty of good times. Amazingly enough, the really cold part of winter has yet to arrive round these parts, with plenty of sunny blue skies which is really good for the mood.
Nonetheless, it is still pretty chilly out there, which definitely calls for comfort food in my kitchen. When it comes to comfort food, I think everybody needs to have a really dependable, heart warming, chicken stew in their cooking arsenal. Trust me, this is that recipe. It’s not flashy, the ingredients are easy to come by and in fact you’re likely to have the bulk of them at home already. This is not a dish of exotic and trendy ingredients, but it is utterly timeless, and the culinary equivalent of a big, warm hug. As with all stews and similar dishes, this tastes brilliant the next day as leftovers so I always make the full portion, even if it’s just the two of us eating.
I like to cook with bone in chicken and then remove the bones before serving, this is personal preference, you can leave the meat on the bone – though it will go further and be easier to serve if you do remove them.
In Germany chicken thighs are only just making an appearance in the supermarket fridges and are always sold with the dreaded ‘Rückenstück’ attached, a horrible bit of bone left over from lazy butchering. That means I often buy a whole chicken and segment it myself and make this same dish with two chicken breasts, halved, two thighs and two drumsticks as in the pictures. It works in exactly the same way and is just as delicious, the liquid in the pan keeps the meat lovely and moist. If I have an extra mouth or two to feed I just throw in a couple of extra thighs.
Classic Hearty Chicken Stew
- 2 Tbsp plain flour
- 6 large chicken thighs, bone in OR: 1 x 1.6kg chicken, jointed
- 2 Tbsp neutral oil, (or butter)
- 2 large onions, peeled, halved and sliced
- 2 Tbsp tomato paste
- 500 ml chicken stock
- 125 ml white wine, (optional)
- 3 medium potatoes, quartered
- 3 carrots, thickly sliced
- 200 g mushrooms, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
- 2 tsp dried thyme leaves
- 2 bay leaves
- sea salt & black pepper
- crusty white bread
- peas, optional
- mashed potatoes, optional
- Heat the oven to 200°C / 400°F / Gas 6. Spread the flour on a plate and season well with salt and pepper. Remove the skin from the chicken thighs and discard, then coat the thighs in the seasoned flour, shaking off any excess.
- In a large, lidded casserole dish or frying pan (see pictures) heat the oil or butter over medium heat, then brown the chicken thighs for 5 minutes on each side, turning only once. Remove the thighs from the pan and set aside.Add the onions to the pan and cook, stirring for 2-3 minutes until softened. Stir the tomato paste into the stock, then pour the stock and wine (if using) into the pan and use a wooden spoon to scrape up all the delicious browned on flavour on the bottom of the pan (deglaze) then add the potatoes, carrots, mushrooms, garlic, thyme and bay leaves to the pan, giving it all a good stir to mix it together. Season well with plenty of salt and pepper.
- Arrange the chicken thighs in a single layer on top, nestling them in among the vegetables, cover with a lid (or a double layer of tinfoil if you don’t have a lid) and cook in the preheated oven for 1 hour.
- When the chicken is cooked, remove from the oven, take off the lid (smells delicious doesn’t it?) and taste to see if it needs any more salt and pepper. Use two forks to pull the now meltingly tender chicken away from the bone in large chunks, remove the bones and discard. Stir the stew one last time then serve with lots of crusty white bread, or creamy mashed potatoes. (Yes, I know there are potatoes in the stew, but there is always room for mashed potatoes at my table) I always like to serve this with a big bowl of tender, bright green peas, tossed lightly with a little butter, though it is good just as is.
TIPS & TRICKS:
If you are using chicken breasts rather than thighs you may need to add more liquid to the pan, about 125ml / ½ a cup of water or stock as they are not as juicy as thighs. Check halfway through to see how it’s getting on and add as necessary.
Looking for more comfort food? What about my rich and satisfying: