Chicken, Bacon and Mushroom Stew
Achieving deep flavour in stews, casseroles and curries means cooking the flavour in first.
Liquid based stew-style foods are a form of slow cooking and benefit from good browning techniques prior to cooking.
Mushrooms need to be browned on a high heat to resist their natural tendency to release water. The easiest way to brown mushrooms is in a very hot frypan with a minimum of oil. Lay them in a single layer, deeply brown them and turn them over once and repeat on the other side.
Brown the bacon until it is crisp and brown the onions until they are a deep, rich colour.
Likewise, seal the chicken quickly on a high heat. The stewing takes place in the pot with the liquid and this initial browning ensures that the flavours are robust and rich.
This recipe feed four and can be cooked on a stovetop, in a camp oven or in your regular oven at home.
750 grams of chicken fillet, diced into large chunks.
1 brown onion, halved and sliced into paper thin half rings.
2 rashers of bacon, diced into ½ centimetre chunks.
1 tablespoon of olive oil.
4 large, whole cloves of garlic
1 teaspoon tomato paste.
2 medium carrots, diced into pieces about the size of the chicken.
2 to 3 cups of small button mushrooms, halved.
2 large potatoes, prepared the same as the carrots.
2½ cups of chicken stock.
¼ cup of plain or corn flour.
2½ cup dry white wine.
2½ cup coarsely chopped fresh parsley.
A pinch of thyme.
1 bay leaf.
1 cup of green peas.
1 -2 tablespoons of cream.
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
Heat a frypan and, as outlined above, add a ¼ of the olive oil and brown the mushrooms. Transfer them to a camp oven or casserole.
Repeat this process with the chicken pieces, adding them to the mushrooms when browned.
Add the remaining oil to the pan and fry the bacon until crispy.
Add the onions to the bacon and fry until they reach a deep brown colour.
Turn the heat to very low and toss in the 4 whole garlic cloves followed by the flour.
Cook this mixture thoroughly, stirring the whole time until the flour has taken on a nutty, cooked colour - important to avoid having a 'floury' taste through the sauce.
Add the chicken stock and stir until the stock has integrated with the flour and you have a smooth liquid paste.
Pour the stock mixture over the chicken and mushrooms and add the white wine.
Add the carrots, potatoes, parsley, thyme, bay leaf, stir and season with salt and pepper.
Stir gently and thoroughly.
Cook for 1 hour in a moderate oven on 180°C, stirring gently halfway through.
Add the peas and cream, cook for a further 5 minutes.
This stew has all the ingredients that create a classic 'One Dish Meal' although serving it with a slice of fresh crusty bread never hurt anyone.
Looking for a casserole with a twist? Try this hybrid Beef Bourguignon and Stroganoff recipe for flavour with a difference.
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