The first step in making rabbit stew is catching the rabbit.
~ Isaac Asimov ~
Don’t worry, no rabbits were harmed in the writing of this post. This is just a flavourful Slow-Cooked Chicken Stew with a rich tomato sauce and some fresh veggies. The best part is that it only takes a little prep work and the oven does the rest. My Dutch Oven should also get some of the attention. I have wanted a Dutch Oven for years, but with some of them carrying a price tag upward of R3500, I have never bought one. Great though they might be, I just couldn’t take out that amount of money for a pot! Eventually, I was convinced to splurge by my obsession with baking sourdough bread. I went for one on the lower end of the price spectrum and spent about R1000 on a lovely pot which I have used for much more than just baking sourdough!
Slow food is the best food
If you love easy recipes that produce flavourful to food and mouthwateringly tender meat, slow cooking is for you! I use this method in my Drunken Beans recipe and it really works! The added advantage is that you do not need to babysit the food. This is really my sort of cooking! My father used to accuse my mother of doing “remote-controlled cooking”. She used to get the food started and then go sit on the patio with a glass of wine. As we all know that is the best way to cook! No need to hover over the stove if not necessary. Your family will be fed a balanced and delicious meal without a lot of fuss.
So there are some secrets to doing slow-cooking and the first is to get yourself out of the kitchen once the food is going. You also need a heavy-based pot with a tight-fitting lid. I use it on top of the stove to brown the meat. Then I add the veggies, liquid and seasoning and pop it into the preheated oven for 45 minutes to an hour. As the temperature of the oven is low and the pot is covered, it should not be necessary to open the lid for the full cooking time – at least two leisurely glasses of wine! Once the cooking time has passed and everything is tender you would, of course, need another glass of wine with your delicious Slow-Cooked Chicken Stew, but who is counting?
Slow-Cooked Chicken Stew
- 30 ml olive oil
- 1 onion, roughly chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced (or more if you like)
- 8 chicken thighs (or 4 drumsticks and 4 thighs)
- 4 potatoes, cut into chunks
- 2 carrots, sliced into 2 cm chunks
- 250 g white button mushrooms, whole
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 6 baby marrows or pattypans, sliced in 1 cm thick slices
- 1 tin chopped tomatoes or whole cherry tomatoes
- 1 cup chicken stock, warmed
- 10 ml dried green herbs like parsley, origanum or basil, or an Italian blend
- 5 ml paprika (I sometimes use smoked paprika)
- 2 - 3 tbsp chutney or sweet chilli sauce
- salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat the oven to 160°C.
- Heat the oil in a large heavy-based pot.
- Add the chicken pieces (skin side down) and brown them evenly. Remove from the pot and set aside for later.
- Add the onion and garlic and fry over medium heat till translucent, but not browned.
- Add the potatoes, carrots, mushrooms, peppers and baby marrows.
- Sprinkle with the herbs, paprika and salt and pepper.
- Pour the tomato and stock over and add the chutney or sweet chilli sauce. Mix carefully.
- Put the chicken pieces back into the pot.
- Put the lid on and transfer to the oven for 1 hour 20 minutes or until the chicken is tender.
- Check the seasoning of the stew, adding salt, pepper or sugar if necessary.
- Serve the stew on your choice of starch - rice, mashed potato or polenta would all be great!
- This recipe can really be changed around to whatever you have in your freezer and cupboard:
- If you would like to use red meat, increase the cooking time to 2 hours.
- You can easily create a curry by stirring Indian curry paste into the pot after you have browned the chicken.
- You can turn the stew into a vegetarian one by omitting the chicken, adding more veggies and a tin of legumes (chickpeas, beans or lentils) just before you put the pot in the oven.