As you probably know by now, I love my creature comforts. When it’s cold and drizzly I want to come home to a warm house, a hot bath, soft blankets and comfort food. And today was one of those days.
As the weather has turned rather autumnal so has my cooking. Gone are the light fish dishes and long forgotten are the salads. As suddenly as the turning of the weather I’m craving pies, roast dinners and mashed potato. The chicken legs in the fridge were destined for one thing and one thing only today; stew.
I wanted a particularly comforting and warming stew so I opted for sweetness provided by spring carrots, sweet potato and Madeira and, to balance this out, I thought I’d add a little heat in the form of dried chilli flakes, thyme and lots of black pepper. Except I added more than ‘a little heat’. I didn’t measure the chilli flakes but lobbed in what I thought was about a teaspoon. This was far too hot for me and left me doing a goldfish impression as I tried to get some cool air into my mouth. Rob, on the other hand, loved it, so it really does depend on your own tolerance of heat I guess. Nether the less I suggest a prudent ½ teaspoon in the recipe below. For my own portion of stew I added in some natural yoghurt in order to take out some of the heat, which not only cooled it but made it deliciously creamy and it worked really well with the sweet potato so I’d highly recommend doing this if you fancy a creamier version.
Chicken, Chilli and Sweet Potato Stew
4 chicken legs (or other chicken pieces)
1 stick of celery
1 sweet potato peeled and cut into chunks
A handful of carrots cut into chunks
1 litre of chicken stock
2 bay leaves
A few sprigs of fresh thyme
½ wine glass full of Madeira
1 tablespoon of plain flour
½ teaspoon of dried chilli flakes (or according to taste)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Natural yoghurt (optional)
Brown the chicken legs over a high heat and set aside.
Finely chop the celery, onion and 1 of the carrots. Gently sauté the vegetables in a casserole dish until softened.
Turn the heat up, add the flour and stir well, then add the Madeira. Once the Madeira has stopped sizzling add in the rest of the ingredients along with the chicken. Season well, adding a generous amount of pepper.
Bring the casserole to the boil then simmer gently on the hob, with a lid on, for an hour and a half to two hours. Remove the bay leaves before serving.
For a creamier version, stir in a dollop of natural yoghurt at the end.