chicken & chorizo stew

Chicken and chorizo stew.
Chicken and chorizo stew.

Happy New Year everybody!

I spent the holiday break in Australia and although friends here warned me that it was freezing, it was a shock to step off the plane and discover just what they meant. For London is frosty beyond memory; it’s really really cold. It’s the kind of chill you’re not even sure how to handle, because doing anything other than the bare minimum involves a trip outside, which means getting dressed, and that requires a superhuman act of bravery.

Fortunately, there’s winter food to console us during the colder months, and we seek to ward off the chill with steaming bowls of something comforting. At this time of year, it’s all about cooking for warmth and ease – nothing fussy or fancy, just simple good food that invokes the memory of sunshine.

The ultimate winter dinner.
The ultimate winter dinner.

This stew combines aromatic chorizo with the gentle heat of chilli and the comforting graininess of butter beans. It’s perfect for nights like these!

Chicken and chorizo stew
6 chicken thighs
100g chorizo
1 x 400g tin butter beans, drained and rinsed
1 x 400g tin tomatoes
2 carrots, sliced
1 capsicum, sliced
1 onion, sliced
3 cloves garlic, sliced
2 tsp chilli flakes
250ml chicken or vegetable stock
Flour, salt, pepper and mixed herbs to coat the chicken

De-skin the chorizo and pull it into pieces. Fry gently in a non-stick pan and remove to a large baking dish, keeping the oil in the pan.

Season the flour with salt, pepper and mixed herbs. Coat the chicken in the flour and brown in the chorizo oil. Add the browned chicken to the baking dish.

Prepare the rest of the ingredients and add to the baking dish. Place in a 200 degree oven for 1 hour and serve with sweet potato mash, kale or a crusty loaf of bread.


beef and red wine stew

Winter warmers
Winter warmers

When the air is crisp and the days are short and cool, there’s nothing quite like a beef and red wine stew.

You’d be forgiven for having a sneaking suspicion that it’s a great excuse to snaffle myself a nice glass of red with dinner, but really, it’s so much more than that. I don’t eat a lot of beef, but when I do there’s a certain weightiness to it that’s perfect for a cold winter’s night.

There’s something very comforting about the tried-and-tested combination of beef, carrots and herbs, muddled together in synergistic harmony. Then there’s also the ritual of mushing an already-soft stew with a fork so that it falls into a tender heap atop a bed of mashed potatoes, staining their creamy perfection with little rivulets of rich gravy.

The first taste is like a big, warm hug. If you’re under the weather, out of sorts or nursing a broken heart, this is the stew you want to cook.

Beef and red wine stew
750g chuck steak, cubed
4 tbsp plain flour
2 onions
5 carrots
2 sticks of celery
2 tomatoes
3 cloves garlic
1 sprig of rosemary
1 small handful of parsley
500ml beef stock
250ml red wine
Salt and pepper

They're different colours, but only because that's what was in the cupboard.
They’re different colours, but only because that’s what was in the cupboard.

Start by quartering the onions and placing them, with a little oil, in a large pot over a low heat.

While it’s warming up, chop the celery and 1 carrot into very small pieces. Add these to the pot and cook over a low heat.

Season the flour with salt and pepper and toss the cubes of steak in the flour, coating them with a fine dusting. Add the steak to the pot and fry until browned.

Add the other carrots, stock, red wine, rosemary and tomatoes. Cover and simmer for 2 hours or until the beef falls apart. Remove the tomato skins and rosemary before adding the parsley at the very last minute.

Garnish with a little extra chopped parsley and serve with greens and potatoes.

Let’s talk about wine: the general consensus amongst the cooking community is that it’s not a huge issue what kind of wine you use, but it must be good enough to drink on its own. If you go buying crappy wine that you wouldn’t serve, the flavours are intensified when you cook it, giving you a horribly bitter stew with a cheap aftertaste that’ll remind you of every Friday night of your 20s. Just say no.

spanish stew

It's almost time to say goodbye to winter food for another year. Not that that really works in London.
It’s almost time to say goodbye to winter food for another year. Not that that really applies in London.

The other day we noticed that it was still light outside at 3pm. For the first time in months, it seems, you can go outside without gloves and a hat and not think you’re going to die of frostbite. That means the delights of Spring are just around the corner – and I know it seems like an impossibility right now, but in a few short weeks we’ll also be leaving the comforting realms of warm winter food behind.

Chorizo has become a regular feature on the menu of late. Are calorie-counters aghast? They needn’t be. This heavily spiced sausage is so strongly flavoured that you only ever need to use a small amount, and the smokiness will permeate the rest of the dish. Moreover, if you fry it slowly, the fat runs out and you can drain it away before plopping the toothsome morsels into a separate pan.

It also doesn’t hurt that chorizo has a good long fridge life, so you can keep some on hand for emergency stew action on those long, cold winter nights.

The basis for a hearty winter stew.
The basis for a hearty winter stew.

Spanish Stew
200g cooking chorizo (about 4 small links)
2 x 400g cans plum tomatoes
1 x 400g cans butter beans
1 yellow capsicum, sliced
1 red onion, finely sliced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tablespoon smoked paprika

Skin the chorizo and pull into pieces. You can cut it, but I like the ragged edges of pulled chorizo.

Place the chorizo into a non-stick frypan over a medium heat. When it starts to sizzle, add the onion and garlic.

While that’s cooking away, pour the tomatoes into a saucepan and bring to the boil. When the chorizo is done, drain it and transfer the mixture to the saucepan, adding the rest of the ingredients.

Simmer for twenty minutes and serve with crusty bread – or for a healthier option, go with piles of vegetables like mushrooms, broccoli and kale.

Serves four, 275kcal per serve.

Serve with vegetables or fresh crusty bread,
Serve with vegetables or fresh crusty bread.