A simple French style chicken casserole with bacon and packed with vegetables – leeks, shallots and mushrooms, cooked on the stove top
With the equinox just past we have reached the point where night becomes longer than day and I’ve started to plan my winter food. Rich, warming and comforting. It is the time for stews and casseroles, slowly cooked until the ingredients are soft and tender, the flavours melded into a harmonious whole. Now it is cooler I embrace slow, longer cooking in the oven or hob, and do not mind the extra heat it brings to my kitchen after the hot days in the summer when I would make excuses not to turn the oven on.
Despite having left full time education a scarily long 20 years ago, September still feels like the beginning of the year, a time for new ventures, change and some self appraisal.
New this autumn is the John Lewis “Cook Edition”, a sumptuously photographed supplement, that features seasonal recipes and articles, as well as showcasing some rather enviable products from John Lewis. I like the look of, Masterchef winner, Thomasina Miers’ Mexican street food inspired tacos with squash and chorizo, together with a handy guide for using a tortilla press (I now know I need to line both the base and top plate with a plastic bag before using).
A preserving feature has a delectable sounding blackberry and apple jam recipe, as well as lots of handy hints and tips. It advocates the usage of a wide mouthed funnel, which I wholeheartedly concur with, essential not only for preserving but also for preventing spillage when decanting the contents of packets into storage jars and tins. You can pick a copy up from John Lewis, or if you cannot wait, or prefer the greener e-copy, there is an interactive app and you can read the magazine on your iPhone or iPad.
The magazine contains a recipe for a French style Le Creuset Chicken casserole, cooked on the hob in a classic cast iron Le Creuset pot. The chicken is poached in a broth with potatoes, leeks, mushrooms and leeks. There is far more of the broth, and it is far thinner than a more English style casserole, the leeks are crunchy and pungent, flavours more distinct than blended and melded.
A Le Creuset pot is for life. I took one to university with me and it is still going strong, and is used at least once a week. I love that they are reassuringly both heavy and solid, easy to clean (they go through the dishwasher and are easy to wash by hand), if you do burn one then add a spoon of biological laundry powder and a kettle full of boiling water and allow to soak, or in extreme cases gently simmer and with a little elbow grease the pot will come up as good as new. I really like the new cotton colour, with the stainless steel rather than the classic black knob on the lid – it brings the original up to date, without changing the design.
- 3 tsp vegetable oil
- 1 whole free range chicken – cut into 8 portions
- 250 bacon – cubed
- 12 small shallots peeled and quartered
- 2 small leeks – trimmed and sliced
- 200 g baby button mushrooms
- 1 litre hot chicken stock
- 400 g small new potatoes
- 2 tbs cornflour
- small handful fresh parsley chopped
Heat 2 tbsp of the oil in a 24cm diameter casserole dish. Sear the chicken pieces until browned then remove and set to one side. Fry the bacon, shallots, leeks and mushrooms in turn, adding more oil if needed. After each is cooked remove from the casserole and set to one side.
Add the stock to the casserole, using a spatula to deglaze the pot and bring to a simmer. Add the chicken and potatoes and simmer for about 30 – 40 minutes until the potatoes are cooked and the chicken is tender.
Return the bacon, shallots, leeks and mushrooms to the pot. Place the cornflour in a cup, add 4 – 6 tbs of the stock from the casserole and mix to make a smooth runny paste. Pour the cornflour mixture into the casserole and stir to mix, continue to cook until thickened.
Adjust the seasoning and serve topped with the chopped parsley.
Disclosure. I was sent a copy of the Cook Edition for review, a Le Creuset Casserole and a supermarket voucher for the ingredients.