The relationship between the modern cook and their oven is becoming a rather distant one. Aside from the closet bake off fanatics, fancying themselves as the next Mary Berry I have come to the conclusion that it has become the modern mans nemesis. It takes time to heat, it a nightmare to clean and make a perfect resting place for footwear, when you run out of wardrobe space. Perhaps I should consider it a testament to my cooking and feeder tendencies that my housemate didn’t even know how to turn it on for the first 2 months living in my flat.
Since the need for speed is such a central theme in my everyday cooking, I have adopted all means possible to adapt even classic slow cook favourites to meet my requirements, for under half and hour, from fridge to gobble. Usually this is a swap from oven the stove top.
This week I am beginning with this cinnamon chicken stew. A one pot wonder to spoil friends with on the weekend, or to simmer and savour through the week. The chicken is doused in light spices, that enhance its delicate flavour. Haricot beans (aka baked beans, minus the sauce) are present to soak up the rich liquor, currants are added for sweetness, whilst preserved lemons add a contrasting salt and sour. The end result is wonderful eaten alone, or dolloped over steaming pearl barley, or a nutty wild rice. I also dished it up with some roasted peppers, corn and a rather tasty avocado, chilli and apricot salsa (recipe to come later in the week)
Cinnamon Chicken Stew with Preserved Lemon Recipe
For added convenience I have use the jarred haricot beans variety. They are far better then the canned sort, if you don;t have time to soak your own over night. They break down into the sauce and thicken it beautifully. Also, please do opt for the best quality meat you can afford. Free range, organic or higher welfare is best.
- 4 large chicken thighs
- 1 onion, thinly sliced
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 1 heaped teaspoon mustard seeds
- 1 heaped teaspoon ground coriander
- 2 preserved lemons, roughly chopped (alternately use the use of 2 lemons and 1 teaspoon of zest)
- 30g currants, or sultanas
- 500ml chicken stock
- x1 tin (400g) cooked and drained haricot beans
- a small handful of fresh mint leaves
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Coat the chicken thighs in the olive oil and a couple of pinches of sea salt.
Place a large lidded casserole dish on the stove, over a high heat. Add the chicken thighs to the pan, skin skin down. Cook for 5-10 minutes, or until golden and crispy, then flip over and cook for a further five minutes on the other side. Once the meat is seared on both sides, remove the chicken from the pan, and set aside on a plate.
Add a dash of olive oil to the pan with the onions. Cook over a low heat, until they begin to turn translucent and soften. Once the onions are soft, add the ground coriander, mustard seeds and cinnamon sticks. Cook for 1-2 minutes, the add the stock, currants and preserved lemons. Place the lid half on the pan and simmer gently for 10 minutes. Add the chicken back to the pan,with the haricot beans and place the lid ajar on the pan. Simmer for a further 5-10 minutes, or until the chicken is fully cooked.
Stir through the mint, then taste and season accordingly. Plate up the chicken, spooning it over rice, or cooked barley (to your preference) and enjoy hot. Preferably with a cold glass of wine.
I can almost guarantee that once you make this, it will be a regular fixture on your winter dinner agenda.