I returned home from holiday last Thursday with a lot of good intentions. I would swim every day! Eat more vegetables! Buy more warm clothes! Stop worrying about work! Finally get around to uninstalling Kim Kardashian: Hollywood from my phone! (Seriously, that thing is a bloody time sink), blog more! While I’ve not exactly kicked these bold statements of intent to the kerb, I’ve certainly nudged a fair few of them out of sight. But my promise to myself to blog more keeps pinging back up like a stray piece of fringe and hitting me in the face. Which means I should probably try to do something about it.
While I’ve not exactly fallen out of love with food blogging, I’d be lying if I said that my relationship with it hasn’t cooled out slightly. I think back to the halcyon days of 2012 where I was writing here every week and dearly wish I could get that spark back. It’s not so much that I haven’t been inspired, more that I haven’t been arsed to put aside the minutes and hours required to take pictures of my dinner and write stories about it. Perhaps blogging and I need to go on a dirty weekend somewhere and rediscover each other.
As it is, I’m back for now, and I’m going to do my damnedest to keep the spark alive. So, here’s a stew I threw together on a Monday evening in late Summer when I should have been doing something more worthwhile such as going out for a run, swimming 50 lengths or reading improving literature. Combining chicken thighs (a vastly underrated cut of meat), bacon and a whole heap of vegetables I found moldering away at the bottom of my fridge, this is a stew which comes together in an hour, makes enough to feed a small army and freezes beautifully. I used carrots and green beans as those were the ones I had to hand, but I know that this also works well with various root vegetables (such as turnips or butternut squash.) The cannellini beans add a nice bit of starch and help to thicken the sauce which is so delicious you could happily lap it up with a spoon.
I’m not sure if this is a stew fit to cure my blogger’s block. But I suppose it’s as good a place to start as any other.
CHICKEN, BACON AND CANNELLINI BEAN STEW (Serves Four)
You will need:
- 4 chicken thighs (preferably with the skin still attached, as I think that the fat rendered from the skin gives the dish a real hit of flavour)
- 4 rashers of good quality bacon, chopped into chunks
- 1 medium sized onion, sliced
- 1 tbsp plain flour
- 1 medium sized glass of white wine (roughly 200ml)
- 400ml chicken stock
- 1/2 tsp dried thyme
- 1/2 tsp dried rosemary
- 1/2 tsp dried tarragon
- 2 – 3 carrots, peeled and thickly sliced
- 1 tin of cannellini beans, drained
- 1 large handful of green beans, topped, tailed and sliced in half
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- Preheat your oven to 180°C/Gas Mark 4. Season the chicken thighs well with salt and pepper.
- Heat up a good glug of olive oil in a flameproof casserole dish. Place the chicken thighs skin side down, and fry until golden. Transfer to a plate and remove the skin if you wish. Add the bacon to the pot and fry until it is beginning to turn crisp. Add the sliced onion, and continue to cook for five minutes until the onions turn soft.
- Stir in the flour, and cook out until the flour is fully incorporated into the fat. Add the wine, the stock and the herbs and bring to a simmer. Season with salt and pepper if required. Return the chicken thighs to the pot, along with the sliced chunks of carrot. Cover, and place in the oven.
- Pour yourself a glass of wine. Drink it. This should take you roughly half an hour or so, by which point it’s time to check your casserole. Add the drained cannellini beans and sliced green beans. Cover, and place back in the oven for another half an hour. Pour yourself another glass of wine. (Try not to kill time by calling your parents and getting distracted while your Dad tells you about his new Disabled Person’s railcard.)
- The casserole is done when the chicken thighs are cooked through. The green beans and cannellini beans should still be firm to the bite. Remove from the oven and serve immediately.