I know chicken stew isn’t exactly typical summer fare but today a friend and I ate this in the garden in the sun and it was a really pleasant clean, easy meal. I think the fact that it was made completely from scratch helped.
I live very close to a very good butcher but until quite recently, only really went in there on high days and holidays. Then I noticed that they had started to sell fresh vegetables, eggs, cheese, bread and milk too and now I seem to be shopping in there every other day. It’s so nice not having to go all the way into the High Street when I’m missing the odd ingredient, like an orange or a couple of carrots. Their produce might be marginally more expensive than the supermarket but I don’t have to spend half an hour travelling there and half an hour standing in a queue and I don’t end up thinking “whilst I’m here I might as well pick up a whole host of rubbish I don’t really need and won’t actually use but it’s in a pretty bottle so whilst I’m here………” so all in all I end up spending less and certainly throwing away less!
Yesterday, I bought a couple of chicken breasts and 4 toulouse sausages and the butcher gave me a couple of chicken carcasses for making stock. I came back and made the stock and then ended up making something completely different than I had planned in order to use up said stock!
I used a pack of mixed frozen mushrooms, because that was what I had but just normal button or chestnut mushrooms would work just as well. For the stock, I put 2 chicken carcasses, raw and with wings still on and a fair amount of meat still in tact, into my slow cooker, covered with water freshly boiled from the kettle, put the lid on and left it to bubble away over night. I didn’t add any seasoning or any vegetables because to be honest, I had planned on using the stock for the dog’s dinners and dogs mustn’t have onion or too much salt but once I’d made it, it was so thick and chickeny I couldn’t resist using it! Chippy, the dog, did get the meat from the carcasses though so she didn’t feel too hard done by!
I think maybe I should have used a slightly larger pot as my dumplings grew so much as to make it look more like a cobbler than a dumpling stew but they were ever so light and very tasty so I forgave them!
For the stew:
1 tablespoon olive oil
200g frozen mixed mushrooms
2 medium leaks
2 large chicken breasts
4 Toulouse sausages
2 fat cloves of garlic
750 ml thick chicken stock
1 tablespoon cornflour
Ground pepper to taste
For the dumplings:
3 tablespoons from the chicken stock
200g self-raising flour
1. Put the Toulouse sausages in the oven at 180C for as long as it takes to complete the rest of the preparation.
2. Melt the butter in the olive oil then add the mushrooms, still frozen and cook over a low heat until they have thawed and have begun to brown. Do this in the flame proof casserole dish you intend to use to cook the stew in.
3. Crush and chop the garlic and stir it in with the mushrooms.
4. Trim and slice the leaks then wash them under running cold water to remove any grit and drain. Stir into the mushrooms.
5. Scrape and slice the carrots and add them to the pan.
6. Dice the chicken into inch cubes and add that too to the pan.
7. Add the chicken stock and bring to the boil, reducing to a gentle simmer.
8. Mix a little water with the cornflour to make a smooth paste and add to the pot and stir.
9. Prepare the dumplings by putting all the ingredients in a large bowl and kneading together to form a ball. If the mixture isn’t wet enough to be cohesive then add a little more stock from the pan. Divide the dough into 8 small round balls.
10. Remove the sausages from the oven and chop them up into 1 inch slices and add them to the pot too. Give the whole thing a good stir and reduce the oven temperature to 160C.
11. Gently roll the dumplings into the stew with a spoon then put the uncovered pot into the oven to cook for 45 minutes when the dumplings should be golden on top and have grown to twice their original size!