It’s freezing outside. Still, clear blue sky days. And, spring is only 4 weeks away. Yes! Winter here in the UK is the only season I dislike – although not intensely. There are, of course, aspects of it that I do like. Problem is, I prefer flip-flop weather. So a simple, healthy Chicken and Chickpeas stew. Okay, you can cheat and use a decent chicken stock cube. I prefer poaching chicken pieces with lots of veg (which will also give you loads of nutrients). Literally only 20 minutes prep involved – and I’m not the fastest in the kitchen. Once you’ve brought the stock to a boil it then only takes 30 minutes to cook. Couldn’t be much simpler. All I do is strain the stock, discarding the veg but keeping the garlic and bay leaves, add the potatoes and cook them. I don’t usually bother with a type of roux (instructions for this at end of post) to help thicken the stock to a thin gravy. Instead, I mash the potatoes into the stock on my plate – who says I have to grow up!
As for the spinach: you could buy already washed to save time. This time I didn’t, for a change, as I’m cooking spinach soup over the weekend. I prefer my spinach wilted in the stock just before eating. Although, a salad of their leaves would be equally as good. A little drizzle of lime goes especially well with spinach. And, freshly snipped parsley tastes great with the chickpeas.
Chicken and Chickpeas, with potatoes, wilted spinach and pan-fried shallots
- 200g (7.05 oz) x onions, peeled and cut into 4 or 6 pieces
- 150g (5.29 oz) x carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
- 200g (7.05 oz) x celery, washed and roughly chopped
- 500g x (17.63 oz) chicken pieces (I’ve used leg quarters), skin and excess fat removed, washed
- 500ml (1.05 pt US Liq) x water
- 1 x organic vegetable stock cube
- 2 x garlic cloves, peeled
- 6 x fresh sprigs of thyme (from ‘living pots’), rinsed – use less if thyme is of mature growth
- 6 x parsley stalks
- 2 x bay leaves, ripped
- up to 10 x juniper berries, lightly crushed
- 1/4 x scant teaspoon cayenne pepper OR 1/4 x teaspoon red pepper flakes (or more to personal taste)
- 150 – 200g (5.29 – 7.05 oz) x potatoes, peeled and cut into smallish pieces
- about 75g (2.64 oz) x shallots per person, peeled and sliced in half lengthways
- 1 x 410g or 246g drained weight (14.46 oz or 8.67 oz drained weight) can chickpeas, rinsed
- 1 x level teaspoon paprika
- about 20g fresh spinach per person (or more), washed
- freshly snipped parsley, to serve
- 1 x slice of fresh lime – optional
Measurements within brackets above are approximate only.
- After preparing the veg and chicken pieces add the first 12 ingredients to a large saucepan with a lid, bring to boiling point on electric heat No 4 (out of 6) then reduce to No 2 and simmer for 30 minutes. It’s advisable to check the chicken pieces for any signs of pink juice near their bone. If that’s the case cook for another 10 or 15 minutes to make sure they’re absolutely cooked.
- Remove the chicken, when cooked, along with the garlic and bay leaves and set aside (when cool enough take the meat off the bone – optional). Strain the stock through a metal colander into a suitable bowl. Wipe out the same saucepan with kitchen paper and pour the strained stock back in.
- Prep the potatoes and add them, along with the bay leaves, to the stock, on heat No 4 and with a lid, until boiling point. Then, reduce the heat to No 2 until cooked.
- In the meantime prep the shallots, if using, and add them to a pan with enough oil to coat its base. Put on heat No 2 and allow to settle. Keep and eye on them for any signs of scorching. If that’s the case reduce the heat. Turn them over after about 15 minutes and allow them another 10 minutes to cook through.
- Add the rinsed chickpeas to a large heavy-based pan and add enough oil to coat its base. Put on heat No 2 and allow to settle. Shake the pan occasionally. When the chickpeas are nice and golden take off heat and sprinkle over the paprika. Allow the paprika to infuse for several minutes before adding to the stock.
- All that’s left to do is to add the washed spinach, and the chicken, several minutes before serving. This will allow the spinach to wilt and will also reheat the chicken. Serve piping hot with freshly snipped parsley and a slice of lime.
How to thicken the stock for a thin gravy:
- Place a small pan on low heat only. Drizzle enough oil to coat its base. Add 1 dst of plain flour and stir thoroughly. This type of roux should be slightly wet as it’s easier to deal with, so do drizzle over more oil if necessary. If the flour starts to bubble take off heat immediately and allow to cool. Put back on heat and cook out the flour, making sure the flour does not burn. After about 5 minutes take off heat and slowly add to the strained stock (after cooking the potatoes) stirring continuously until the stock thickens sufficiently.
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