Category Archives: Stews & Casseroles

A Simple Chicken Stew

Hoping you all had a wonderful christmas with lots of tasty fodder, and wishing a very happy and prosperous 2012!. My apologies for over three weeks absence from the blog, but Chez Foti all went to England for Christmas and although it was my best of intentions to continue blogging, time was most definitely short….and the laptop I intended to use was festively soaked in rather too much vin rouge (luckily it’s now made a full and dried out recovery).

To kick off the New Year I’m blogging my very simple, and not to mention very healthy, Chicken Stew recipe. I tend to make this with the kids in mind, though more often than not it’s our family supper too. Any leftovers get put into small portion sized tupperware pots and frozen for a later convenience dinner for the wee ones.

You can add lots of different veggies to the stew, depending on what’s in season or what you have lurking. Today I used cauliflower, carrots, some pumpkin and a few green beans from the freezer. Peppers, squash, mushrooms, swede, parsnips, sweet potato, cabbage, peas, spinach etc are all great additions. This stew’s a lovely way to fill up those wee little tummies with an abundance of good veg.

Enough for 8 children’s portions or a family of 4:

3 whole chicken legs, skin removed

olive oil

1 onion, diced

2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

2 carrots, sliced

2 sticks of celery, sliced

500g of other veggies, cut into appropriate sized pieces

a large glass of white wine (optional)

a heaped tbsp of tomato puree

3 bay leaves

2 sprigs of thyme (optional)

500ml of chicken stock

black pepper

Add a good glug of olive oil to a large saucepan or casserole and place on the heat. Add the chicken legs and fry on  both sides until golden. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Add the onions and garlic to the pan and fry for a few minutes until softened, adding a little extra olive oil if necessary. Now add the carrots and celery and all the other veggies, though if you’re using less robust veggies like cabbage, spinach or peas add these towards the end of the cooking process. Cook all the veggies for a few minutes, stirring regularly.

Return the chicken to the pan, along with the white wine if using, the tomato puree, the bay leaves and thyme (if using). Pour in the chicken stock and add a good grind of black pepper.

Bring to the boil and cover and simmer gently for one hour, until the chicken is falling off the bone and the veggies are very tender.

Remove the chicken from the bone and return the meat to the stew.

Serve with a big pile of fluffy buttery mash.


Sausage & Bean Stew

It’s been a bit cold here as winter finally settles in, and I’ve had my usual annual hankering for warming stews and casseroles. With only a few sausages in the fridge a couple of days ago and fancying something substantial and flavoursome I put together this sausage and bean stew, and it really was lovely. In fact one of the tastiest dinners I’ve had in a while! And so very easy and quick to put together. Fresh rosemary aside (though I’m lucky enough to have it growing in abundance at Chez Foti), it’s made from standard store cupboard ingredients. You could obviously use dried beans, soaked overnight and cooked for an hour and a half, but as this was a fairly last minute dinner I used a few trusty tins.

A hearty and on the whole pretty healthy dinner for the whole family, but if your wee ones don’t like any heat omit the chilli flakes.

Enough for 4 hungry grown ups:

1 onion, diced

2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

2 carrots, peeled and finely diced

2 celery stalks, finely diced

a pinch of dried chilli flakes

6 – 8 Toulouse Sausages, each cut into 4 pieces

4 sprigs of fresh rosemary, leaves removed and finely chopped

2 x 400g tins of chopped tomatoes

3 x 400g tins of Cannellini beans, drained

2 very large handfuls of spinach/chard/savoy cabbage, washed and finely shredded

salt & pepper

Heat a glug of olive oil in casserole or very large saucepan. Add the onions, garlic, carrots and celery and cook for a few minutes, stirring regularly, until softened a little. Add the chilli flakes, sausages and rosemary and continue to cook for a few more minutes.

Add the chopped tomatoes and a little seasoning. Bring to a simmer and gently cook for 20 minutes. Now add the beans and spinach/chard/cabbage to the party and cook for a further 20 minutes with the lid on.

Adjust the seasoning to suit. And it really is as easy as that! Serve in a bowl with a large hunk of bread.


The Best Chilli con Carne ever!

This is a truly great recipe for chilli that I’ve adapted slightly from Allegra McEvedy’s Leon cookbook. Bursting with flavour and stuffed full of spices (and not just the normal chilli) it’s a real winter warming dinner.  Although it’s not particularly hot, if you don’t like much heat to your food tone down the chilli a little or omit altogether, which is something I often do so the kids can enjoy it with us too.

Using braising beef rather than mince also make this extra special; not only tastier and healthier, it’s great to know exactly what meat you’re eating!  I used pumpkin instead of carrots, which happily added a lovely sweet note to the chilli.

Please beware, this is not a quick chilli to make!.  It requires marinading the beef, preferably overnight, and a good few hours of cooking. So well worth it though!

Enough for 4-6 (depending on how greedy you want to be!)

1 heaped tsp dried chilli flakes

2½ tsp ground cumin

2 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp cinnamon

5 sprigs of thyme

5 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

500g braising beef, cut into 2cm chunks

3 tbsp olive oil

1 heaped tsp cumin seeds

1 heaped tsp coriander seeds

½ red chilli, thinly sliced

2 large onions, diced

2 carrots or equivalent of squash or pumpkin, diced

1 x 400g tin of chopped tomatoes

2 x 400g tins of kidney beans

salt & pepper

Firstly you need to marinade your meat for at least a few hours, preferably overnight.  Into a large bowl put the dried chilli, ground cumin, oregano, cinnamon, thyme and a couple of the sliced garlic cloves.  Mix together and add the beef.  Using your hands rub the spices into the beef and leave to marinade in the fridge.

Heat the olive oil in a very large saucepan or casserole.  Add the cumin and coriander seeds and cook on a gentle heat until you can smell the spices. Add the marinaded beef and thyme to the pan turning every few minutes. Fry until the beef has browned on all sides.

Add a little salt to the pan, as well as the fresh chilli, remaining three sliced garlic cloves, onions and carrots (or squash or pumpkin).  Stirring often continue to cook for about 10 to 15 minutes.

Add the chopped tomatoes, cook for a further 10 minutes.  Now add the kidney beans. Pour in enough water to just cover and gently simmer for an hour with the lid on.

Take off the lid and simmer for up to another hour.  The chilli is ready when the beef is completely tender and sauce nicely thickened.  If the sauce becomes too dry add a little more water.

Once finished adjust the seasoning to taste.

Great served with rice and a big dollop of sour cream on top of the chilli. Divine.


Coq au Vin

I thought it was about time I actually put a French recipe on here and you can’t get much more peasant classic French than good old Coq au Vin. Absolutely divine and divinely easy to make.  It’s one of my standard dinners when we have lots of people staying, as it’s easy to make in large quantities and can be made in advance and re-heated when needed. In fact it’s even better made a day or two before.  With two small children I simply don’t have the time to be preparing dinner late afternoon or early evening and instead rely on cooking in their post-lunch nap time or once they’ve gone to bed after about 7 or 8.  Which is obviously fairly limiting on a number of lovely dinners I could be making, but makes anything stewed, slow cooked or casseroled my best friend these days.

I use pretty rough, and cheap, red wine for this as it does call for quite a lot. Here in France I use the wine I buy for a Euro a litre from the local market (which is surprisingly very quaffable). I rarely use anything too special in cooking as I personally can’t tell the difference.

For 4 adults:

4 whole chicken legs, skin on, preferably free range

1 litre of red wine

4 sprigs of thyme

4 bay leaves

salt and pepper

olive oil

1 small onion, diced

4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

1 large carrot, finely diced

2 stick of celery, finely sliced

180g lardons or streaky bacon (if bacon, cut into small pieces)

250g mushrooms, preferably smallish ones left whole – if large halved or quartered

10 shallots, peeled and cut into half

500 ml chicken stock

Firstly marinade your chicken by placing the chicken legs, wine, bay leaves, thyme and some salt and pepper in a non-metalic bowl. Preferably leave to marinade overnight, or at least for a few hours, in the fridge.

Once marinaded, take out the chicken and dry on some kitchen paper, reserving the marinade for later use.  Heat a tbsp of olive oil in a large saucepan or casserole and fry the chicken on both sides until slightly golden. Remove the chicken and set aside.

Now add the onion, garlic, carrots and celery to the pan.  Cook for about 10 minutes on a gentle heat until softened slightly .  Add the chicken to the pan again, along with wine marinade.  Bring to the boil and simmer gently for about 30 minutes or so without a lid, until the wine is reduced by half.

Meanwhile, in a large frying pan add the lardons or bacon, mushrooms and shallots.  Fry for about 10 minutes until the onions and mushrooms are softened and the lardons slightly browned.

Once the wine has reduced add the cooked lardons, mushrooms and shallots to the chicken pan, along with the stock. Bring back to a simmer and cook for a further 30 to 40 minutes with the lid on.  The chicken should be falling off the bone.  Adjust the seasoning to taste.

This is lovely served with a mound of buttery mashed potato and a nice steamed green vegetable, plus a hunk of bread to soak up the lovely juices. And it should go without saying a large glass of vin rouge!

Enjoy!


Pork, Pumpkin & Pepper Stew

A gentle warming stew that’s perfect for these cooler Autumnal evenings.  And like most stews, so very very easy to put together.  And another great way to use up yet more pumpkin!  A word of warning on the pumpkin though.  Quite often when you buy the very big pumpkins in the UK for Halloween they can be very tasteless for cooking with, no matter how much roasting and flavouring you add they’ll never be great.  If you do have a pumpkin to use try roasting a little of it in the oven before using, just to have a taste check.  You could always substitute Butternut squash as a more reliable tasty alternative.

To add a bit of extra spark I tend to add a touch of chilli, but really it’s not necessary

Enough for four:
1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 small peppers or 1 very large one, preferably red, roughly chopped into big chunks
1/2 red chilli or good pinch of dried chilli flakes (optional)
600g pumpkin, cut into 2cm chunks
a small apple, peeled cored and chopped into fairly small pieces
500g pork (lean and boneless), cut into 2cm chunks
2 bay leaves
1½ tbsp fresh chopped sage leaves, or 2 tsp of dried sage
1½ tbsp tomato puree
250ml dry cider
450ml chicken stock
salt and pepper

In a large saucepan or casserole dish place the olive oil and onion, cook for a few minutes until the onion has softened a little.  Then add the peppers, chilli (if using), pumpkin, apple and pork. Stir fairly regularly so nothing catches and burns, cook for about 10 minutes.  Add the bay leaves, sage and tomato puree and cook for another moment or two before adding the cider.  Allow the cider to cook down for about 5 minutes or so before adding the stock.

Cook for about 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the pork and vegetables are all soft and very tender.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with plenty of mash, and maybe a nice steamed green vegetable on the side.


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