Take Comfort in Chicken Stew
In these times of self-isolation and social distancing, nothing is better than a pot of home made stew. Except, my mother’s home made stew with my home made dumplings.
Now that many people are working from home or are forced to stay at home, I’d like to share with you the best comfort food I know. Enjoy!
Prepare the stock the day before you make the stew.
1 leftover roast chicken
1 onion, peeled and washed
1 carrot, peeled and washed
1 stick of celery, washed
4 or 5 peppercorns
1 bay leaf
- Pick the meat from the chicken and set aside.
- Put the chicken carcass in a large pot with a lid and add the onion, carrot, celery, peppercorns and bayleaf.
- Cover with water and bring to the boil.
- Turn the heat down and simmer for 2 hours or until the stock is reduced by half.
- Strain the stock into a bowl, cool and place in the fridge overnight.
- Pick over the chicken carcass again in case you missed any chicken the first time around, then discard the carcass and vegetables.
- The next day, skim off the excess fat that has settled on top of the stock.
The amount of ingredients are up to you – use as much or as little of anything as you like. I don’t need to tell you – peel and wash the vegetables before you prepare them.
Chicken stock (reserve 1/4 pint for the dried soup)
Thick slices of diagonally cut carrot
Chunks of parsnip
Cubes of swede
Chickpeas / butterbeans / lentils (optional – Mum always adds one of the three, but I don’t)
1 packet of Country Vegetable dried soup (don’t ask me why, some things just are as they are)
A squeeze of tomato paste
A glass of white wine
1 tablespoon of seasoned flour
A good dash of dried oregano
a little oil for frying
- Prepare the vegetables, as instructed in the ingredients.
- Fry the onions in a large pot with the oil and bayleaf, until soft.
- Add the carrots, parsnips and swede and cook for 2 or 3 minutes.
- Add the tomato paste and cook for a minute or two, then add the seasoned flour and cook for 2 minutes, stirring all the time.
- Turn the heat up and add the white wine. Stir until the wine bubbles away.
- Slowly add the chicken stock, then the chicken, oregano, salt and pepper, and the chickpeas / butterbeans / lentils (if using them), stirring constantly.
- Bring to a simmer and cook for 45 minutes, or until the vegetables are just tender.
- Slowly add the reserved stock to the dried soup, and mix to a smooth, pourable paste. Stir the soup paste into the stew, making sure there are no lumps.
- Add the frozen peas and bring back to a simmer.
- Taste, and adjust the seasoning if necessary.
- Add the dumplings, bring to a simmer and cook with the lid on for 1/2 an hour, turn the dumplings after 15 minutes.
- Serve with buttery mashed potato.
My recipe is based on the dumpling recipe in ‘Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe’.
2 cups / 272 g plain flour
2/3 cup / 5.3 fl oz milk
1/2 cup / 4 fl oz groundnut oil
3 tsp baking soda
lots of chopped fresh parsley and thyme
- Mix the flour, baking soda, salt, pepper and chopped herbs together.
- Add the milk and the oil, and stir to combine.
- Drop large spoonfuls of the dumpling mix into the stew. (They will expand!)
- Turn the dumplings after 15 minutes.