I’ve been meaning to post this recipe for a while, as it is one of my go-to, most used method for making chicken stew. It is my own take on a Chicken Forestière, which is just a fancy French term for chicken and mushroom stew. The cunning thing with the cooking is that once you know the basics, you can bend it to your will by using any vegetable you have lying about the kitchen. If you don’t have any mushrooms or bacon or herbs, it will still taste good. You can make the most basic recipe with chicken, onions and stock and it will be lovely, or you can turn it into a dinner party winner by adding all sorts of delicious things to enhance it, like using wild mushrooms for example. You can even change the stock to a tin of chopped tomatoes and you have turned it into a Spanish chicken stew. It is literally the most versatile recipe I know.
Note for slow-cooker lovers: the prep for this dish is a little bit more time-consuming than just putting everything in a slow cooker but only by about 25 minutes, and the result will be worth the extra effort. It is still pretty much fool-proof, unless you are known for being able to carbonize fried onions, in which case, slow cooker all the way my friend.
Note on the ingredients: all the ingredients which are there purely to make it tastier but will not drastically change the recipe if omitted are in italics.
Note for baby-led weaning: this recipe is suitable for blw, just cut the carrots into long sticks and omit the salt.
- 1 kg of chicken: the cheaper cuts i.e. thighs and drumsticks. They’re much tastier than the breast anyway.
- 4 slices of smoked bacon, diced
- 75 mls dry sherry or white wine (use water if you don’t have any, but it’s ‘almost’ required)
- 1 medium onion, sliced
- 350 g chestnut mushrooms
- Assorted root vegetables: carrots are the best, but otherwise courgettes, swede, celery, red peppers, etc
- 40 g plain flour
- 500 mls chicken or vegetable stock
- 2 tsp lemon juice
- 4 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
- 100 mls single cream (this one is the most optional of all)
- salt and pepper
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
1. Season the chicken with salt & pepper. In a large flameproof dish (I use my Le Creuset but any deep casserole pot will do), heat the oil and a bit of butter to a fairly high heat and brown the chicken and bacon pieces on all sides. Transfer to a side dish.
2. Pour off any excess fat from the flameproof dish. Return it to the heat and brown the sediment. Pour in the sherry or wine and stir with a flat wooden spoon to deglaze. Pour the liquid over the chicken pieces and set aside.
3. Fry the onion with a knob of butter or a couple of tablespoons of vegetable oil on a medium heat until they start to colour and soften. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring frequently for 6-8 minutes or until their juices start to run. Whilst this is happening, prepare the stock.
3.5 If you are going to go with a tomato base rather than the stock for a Spanish twist, ignore step 4 altogether, pour in a couple of tin cans of chopped tomatoes and a glass of water and head over to step 5)
4. Stir the flour into the onion and mushroom mix then remove from the heat. Gradually add the stock and stir well so the flour is completely blended in.
5. Add the reserved chicken, bacon and juices, return to the heat and stir to thicken. Add all your other ingredients (vegetables and herbs) and keep a medium heat. Once it starts to simmer, cover with the lid and leave to cook for at least one hour (one hour is sufficient, but I would recommend an hour and a half so the meat falls off the bone). It may feel like there is not enough liquid as it might not cover all the ingredients but don’t worry, the vegetables will generate their own moisture and add to the final sauce.
6. If you want a richer sauce, stir in the cream in the last 30 minutes. (not if you’ve put tomatoes though, that would be gross)
7. I would normally serve this stew with rice and baby corn but you can serve it with new potatoes, which you can add to the stew at the same time as the vegetables so they all cook together.
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