Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Summery chicken stew

The Boy and I have spent a glorious week touring the country to see friends and family. Naturally, our trips tend to revolve around food. We’ve barbecued near Bristol, sipped cider on the Cam (bringing a little bit of Somerset to Cambridge!) and noshed on marshmallows on a narrow boat.

Summer signals a flurry of activity for most people – time to make hay while the sun shines. If it’s raining – or if you’re busy dashing about doing a myriad of things simultaneously – you might like to come in after a long day to a bowl of stew.

This creamy chicken stew is light and fresh enough to suit a warm (if damp) summers day. As with all of my recipes, it’s easy and rather forgiving; you can leave it bubbling away on the stove (or in the oven – a similar amount of time at 180C should do the trick) while you go about your business. And, as long as you take care to ensure that it doesn’t boil dry, it won’t be ruined if you accidentally forget about it while you’re taking on the world.

This is a great recipe to have up your sleeve as a versatile and tasty dish. Although I’ve suggested kale, carrots and peas, you could throw in any vegetables that are in season and need using up. Asparagus works well if chucked in at the same time as the kale. In fact, you needed use kale – finely sliced cabbage, greens or spinach would work equally as well. An ideal one-pot supper to cut down on washing up without compromising on taste!

With all of the vegetables and light stock, this is a deliciously healthy meal. I would recommend using Quark instead of cream. It might sound like a Star Trek character but it’s actually a virtually fat free mild cheese that tastes lovely and creamy without being high in calories.

Summer Chicken Stew
Serves 4 – 6

6 chicken thighs, skin on
3 shallots or small onions, sliced
4 cloves garlic, sliced
4 carrots, sliced
½ chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
50g dried apricots, chopped
700ml chicken stock/water
300ml white wine/cider
50g curly kale, stalks removed and sliced
1 tbsp dried tarragon
100g quark or 100ml single cream
50g peas, ideally fresh from the pod but frozen is fine

- Add a drizzle of oil to a pan large enough to take all of the chicken pieces and vegetables with plenty of space over a high heat. Brown the chicken in batches, placing them skin side down for a few minutes and once golden brown, turn over. Remove from the pan.
- Brown the onion for ten minutes until golden brown and soft. Remove and set aside.
- Deglaze the pan with wine/cider; pour in the liquid and scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon or spatula to remove all of the cooked on flavour.
- Add the chicken and onions to the pan with the garlic, carrots, chilli, tarragon and apricots then cover with stock/water. Top up with boiling water if needed until everything is covered.
- Put a lid on the pan and turn the head down to a gentle simmer. Cook for 30 – 40 minutes until the carrots are tender and the chicken is cooked through.
- Remove from the heat and skin off a cup of the cooking liquor. Set aside to cool while you stir in the kale so that it is submerged in the liquid. The residual heat will cool it nicely.
- Meanwhile, whisk the quark or cream into the cooking liquor until smooth and lump-free. Add this back into the pan, along with the peas and stir through.
- Serve with jacket potatoes, boiled jersey royals or rice.

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