I’m clearly one of those people who is affected by the changing of the seasons – especially at the end of summer after the clocks change and the nights draw in at an ever increasing pace. I’m not going to claim that I have an actual medical condition (and certainly don’t want it to seem like I’m making light of people with S.A.D.) but I do seem to lose a lot of my motivation come late October… It’s probably not helped by the fact I work in retail and this time of the year comes with its inevitable challenges and longer hours as Christmas looms.
The one upside of Autumn is that you can start to make big pleasing bowls of comfort food that are a pleasure to come home to – especially when you’ve had to scrape ice off the car in the morning and don’t feel like you’ve properly seen daylight since you got up.
Tonight’s meal was created in my mind between me leaving the office and getting to the supermarket… I wanted to make a stew but knew there were two big limitations.
I’m generally terrible at making stews – I don’t think I have the patience if I’m honest and it’s the one thing I know for sure that my Mum can do better, so I’ve never really had to try.
My husband isn’t the biggest fan of them – which I suspect comes from the fact that they often lack textural variation and a big bowl can turn into quite the slog…
I wasn’t really onto a winner – indeed, when I mentioned to Michael that I would be making a “sort of stew” on the phone as I was driving home his response was “oh well, I can always order in…”. This only strengthened my resolve and I’m glad I held out.
A bowl of gloriously rich, creamy and tender vegetables topped with cripsy chicken thighs is not to be sniffed at, though I could conceed that the random selection of squash at the local Sainsbury’s helped add texture and flavour that may have otherwise been lacking. Add in the discovery of Kalettes (which are somewhere between a Brussels Sprout and Kale, with none of the bad bit of either) to give it an earthy-yet-crisp edge and I genuinely don’t think you could ask for more as the temperatures drop outside.
Well ok – maybe the addition of a bottle of wine and a night in front of the log burner… Good job we had both at our disposal!
- 1 tbsp Vegetable or Olive Oil
- 2 Echalion Shallots thickly sliced
- 1 Carrot cut into 1 cm chunks
- 200 g Squash peeled and cut into 1 cm chunks
- 150 g Chestnut Mushrooms
- 2 Bay Leaves
- 300 ml Good Quality Chicken Stock
- 1 tsp Wholegrain Mustard
- 50 ml Double Cream
- 4 Skinless and Boneless Chicken Thigh Fillets
- 1 pinch Sea Salt Flakes
- 1 pinch Freshly Ground Black Pepper
Heat the oil in a deep frying pan or casserole over a medium heat. Add in the shallots and carrots and sauté for 10 minutes until tender, stirring regularly.
Add in the squash and mushrooms and cook for a further 2-3 minutes before adding in the stock, bay leaves and wholegrain mustard. Put on a lid and cook over a medium-low heat for 20-30 minutes until the sauce thickens and the vegetables are cooked through and tender.
Meanwhile, season the chicken thigh fillets with salt and pepper before frying over a medium-high heat for 15 minutes until crispy on the outside and cooked through.
Just before serving stir the double cream through the vegetable sauce and season to taste with salt and black pepper.
Serve the vegetable stew in a shallow bowl, or deep plate, and top with the fried chicken thighs. Add the vegetables of your choice.