Who doesn’t love a stew – it gives winter a purpose! Always comforting and filling the house with a warm thick air of flavour. I actually think the process of having it slowly cooking in the oven, for hours on end, is half the enjoyment of this richly developed meal.
Prunes and parsnips give the dish a wintry decadent flavour, giving off hints of memorable festive seasons. Deliciously filling as it is, you could also serve it with additional mashed, boiled or roasted potatoes.
Chicken Stew with a Herb Crust
6 boneless skinned chicken thighs
80gm pancetta or bacon lardons
2 tbsp butter and olive oil for cooking
I medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic
2 large parsnips, chopped
1 large potato, chopped
200ml white wine
900ml chicken stock
2 leeks, white part only, sliced
75gm prunes, halved
1 tbsp dijon mustard
1tbsp fresh thyme (or 1 tsp dried thyme)
1 twig fresh rosemary (or 1 tsp dried rosemary)
1 tsp dried sage
Salt & pepper
Chopped parsley and tarragon
Preheat oven to 180C.
1. Cut the chicken thighs into large chunky pieces.
2. Fry the onions in the butter and a glug of olive oil in a casserole pot, or Le Creuset.
3. Add the pancetta and cook until crisp, then follow with the parsnip and potato chunks.
4. When the mixture is soft and brown, add the chicken pieces, leeks and herbs, Cook for 5 minutes,
5. Add the wine, stock, prunes, salt and pepper, stir until mixed well.
6. Bring mixture to the boil, then immediately remove, and place in the oven with a lid.
7. Cook for approximately 40 – 50 minutes, checking regularly to stir.
8. For the herb crust: you want to make enough mixture to cover the stew in your chosen pot size. Mix approx. 1 cup breadcrumbs with enough grated parmesan to meld mixture together. Add the chopped parsley and tarragon, and salt and pepper. The mixture should be balanced and with enough cheese to melt and make a crust.
9. When sauce is thickened and all ingredients cooked, remove stew from the oven and sprinkle over the crust mixture.
10. Increase oven heat to 200C and return stew to the oven, uncovered, for 10 minutes or until the crust starts to brown. Serve!