There have been a lot of stews, casseroles and curries cooking in my kitchen recently. I have to admit that salad has not featured very heavily during the cold snap*. After trudging home in the sludge, all I’ve been craving is rich and spicy bowl food, complete with meat and carbs, to satisfy my bottomless hunger and give my insides a good warming. This dish was inspired by Ellie’s chorizo and barley stew. I just can’t get enough of the subtle heat and depth released when chorizo, red wine and tinned tomatoes meet.
I prefer to use chicken on the bone for this casserole, it makes for messy eating but that’s part of the fun. Find your largest frying pan or hob-safe casserole dish and warm a slug of olive oil. Fry the chicken (legs, breasts, thighs or a mixture) skin side down over a high heat until the skin has crisped, turn and cook the other side until lightly browned. Remove and set aside. Turn the heat down to minimum and add a little more oil, a chopped onion, a finely sliced fennel bulb, 2 finely sliced garlic cloves and some chorizo (diced or sliced and how much is up to you really). Be patient and let everything soften and turn red with the oil from the chorizo. Then pour in a glass of red wine and scrape at the bottom of the pan to release the sticky tasty bits left behind by the chicken. Add a tin of tomatoes (plum or chopped), 500ml of chicken stock, a can of canellini or butter beans, a bay leaf or two, salt, pepper and the chicken. Leave to simmer with the lid off until the sauce has thickened (about 30-40 minutes).
Put some potatoes on to boil in salted water for 10 minutes and turn the grill on high. Slide two or three whole peppers (I used red and yellow) as close to the grill as possible. Let them burn on one side, then turn them over and let the other side burn too. By burning the peppers you give them a wonderful smokiness and soft smooth texture. When cool enough to touch, peel the burnt skin away, discard the seeds, and roughly chop the flesh before throwing into the stew. Drain the potatoes and cut into whatever size you prefer to find in a casserole – this is quite a personal choice I find! Just before you serve the stew, stir in the potatoes and a generous squeeze of lime. Serve with coriander, natural yogurt and a glass of red.
*The snow has melted now so tonight it’s time to get back on the salads… I have squid, broccoli, chicory and radishes in mind. Watch this space.