Chicken casserole

chicken casserole cider mushrooms

I have promised not to complaint about the weather on Facebook and extended the ban to all other social media outlets I normally hang out. In here, I shall just carry on posting Winter-appropriate dishes until the weather gets finally better, as a sign of protest. It is a good thing I have plenty of unpublished dishes, as it might be a while before we can move to lighter food… This casserole dish says comfort food all over – it is delicious, filling and feels like something my Mother could have done for Sunday lunch. What else would you want to eat while the snow is slowly pilling outside?

Chicken casserole  (adapted from Dave Myers and Si King’s The Hairy Dieters: How to Love Food and Lose Weight)

Ingredients 

  • 3 tbsp plain flour
  • 2 tsp dried thyme
  • 4 chicken thighs, skinned and cut in half
  • 2 tsp of olive oil
  • 4 smoked bacon stripes, fat cut off and cut cut into 1cm-wide bits
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 celery sticks, thinly sliced
  • 150g of button mushrooms sliced
  • 500mL dry cider
  • 300mL low fat chicken stock
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 large carrots, cut into 2cm slices
  • 1 large leek, cut into 2cm slices
  • salt and black pepper to taste

Method

Preheat oven to 180c/Fan 160c/Gas 4

Mix the flour and the thyme with a good pinch of salt and pepper into a large freezer bag or bowl. Place chicken into the  bag, a few pieces at a time  and shake until evenly coated. Reserve the left over flour.

Heat oil in a non stick frying pan until is piping hot. Add the chicken a few pieces at a time and let it fry until golden brown (saving any remaining flour in bag). Transfer to heat proof casserole, like a le creuset or equivalent.

In the same frying pan you used for the chicken, put the  bacon, onions and celery . Sauté for 4-5 mins until lightly browned, stirring often. Add the mushrooms to the frying pan and cook for 2 more min. Tip everything into the casserole with the chicken pieces. Sprinkle with the reserved flour.

Pour half the cider to frying pan and stir well to deglaze and remove all the sediments. Simmer for a few seconds, and add to the casserole. Finally, drop in the remaining cider, the stock, carrots and bay leaves.
Cover with the lid and place in the center of the  oven for 1 hour. Remove from the oven and add in the leeks.

Return to the stove and let it cook for about half hour, until the leeks are soft.

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Chicken wings with mushrooms

It seemed like a good idea to cook this dish for the 10th anniversary of my doctoral exam. It is almost finger food, it is somehow Spanish and its recipe seemed straightforward enough. For an extra touch of nerdiness, I could even use the same species of mushrooms I used for my PhD (Pleurotus eryingii, if you really must know).

Then, I realized the recipe called for 30 (thirty) garlic cloves for 6 persons. Cook for twelve, and you’ll end up with 60 (sixty) of them to peel and slice. I.e. at an average of 10 cloves per head, 6 garlic bulbs. Or, if you want to be very precise, at an average of 90g per bulb, about 540g of garlic to slice. In total, it was a 1h long operation that left me with tears in the eyes, redness in the fingers and the taste of garlic in the back of my throat. Needless is to say that after that I just had to had a shower before I find myself ready to face the company of civilized people. It took a good couple of weeks until I felt the need of using garlic, either in major or minor proportions.

At some point, I was getting concerned this dish would actually work. For more drama, after having seen a big bowl of garlic being poured into the concoction, my suffering testers dinner guests were showing an increasing preoccupation about its palatability. It was a wasted worry. It was indeed a delicious dish.  A bit garlicky, but far to be the garlic overdose some catastrophists had anticipated. The white wine just cuts the grease, the thyme added some freshness to it, the chicken wings get soft and tender… Perfection on a small dish cooked with humble ingredients.

Chicken wings with mushrooms (adapted from  Ferran Adrià’s The Family Meal)

Ingredients (for 6)

  • 18 chicken wings, tips removed and cut in half through the joint
  • 100mL olive oil
  • 360g of mushrooms, sliced (it can be button mushrooms, chanterelles, shitake, Pleurotus, all the above, other that is on season. On this occasion, I just got a mixed bag from my local supermarket).
  • 30 (thirty) garlic cloves roughly sliced
  • 3 dried bay leaves
  • 3 fresh thyme springs, leaves pulled out
  • 180mL white wine
  • 150mL water
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Method

1. Season the half chicken wings with salt and pepper.

2. Heat the olive oil in a large pan until it is hot and add the chicken wings. Cook them gently for about 30min, turning regularly.

3. When the chicken wings are evenly browned, drop in the garlic and cook for 5 more minutes.

4. Add the bay leaves and the thyme and mix.

5. Poor in the white wine, and turn up the heat and let it simmer until the wine has reduced a little.

6. Add the mushrooms and cook for 2 minutes until they are well incorporated with the meat, garlic and herbs.

7. Poor in the water and let it simmer until it has evaporated and the mushrooms are soft.


Beef stew with sweet carrots, peas and mushrooms

No use to fight Autumn anymore – it is arrived and is here to stay until Winter shows up. It is now time to start cooking food that makes you forget the cold outside and puts a note of color in your day.

Beef stew with sweet carrots, peas and mushrooms

Ingredients

  • 450g of beef, cut in cubes
  • 50g of flour (or maizena)
  • 250g of button mushrooms
  • 3 onions, cut in half moons
  • 5 carrots, cut in 2cm slices
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 100ml of red wine
  • 1 spring of rosemary
  • 200ml of stock
  • 250g of peas (I used frozen peas)
  • olive oil as required
  • salt and pepper to taste

Method

In a frying pan, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil until it shimmer. Toss the mushrooms. Let them fry until soft and fragrant. Reserve.

Place the beef cubes and flour in a bowl, season with salt and pepper and toss to coat. Shake off the excess of flour. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large frying pan over a high heat until it shimmer. Add half the floured meat and fry until sealed and meat has begun to brown. Be careful not too put too many pieces in the frying pan. Instead of frying, the meat will boil to death, with rather unpleasant results. Reserve the meat.

To the same frying pan, add the onion and the carrots.  Pan fry until the onions are caramelised and the carrots are soft, stirring occasionally  (It will take about 15minutes). Add the grounded garlic and let it combine with the vegetables, stirring for about 1 minute. Take all out of the frying pan and reserve. Pour in the pan approximately 100 mL of red wine stir well to combine and deglaze the frying pan. When the sauce starts to thicken, toss in the meat and reserved vegetables. Mix well to combine, and then add the vegetable stock. Add the bay leave and the rosemary spring.

When it comes to boil, toss the peas in and let simmer for about 15min, until the stock reduces to half and the sauce is a bit thick. Take out from the stove and let it rest for a bit.


Pan fried chicken with a white wine, mushroom and tarragon sauce

A confession –  this dish is not my creation but  have no idea where the recipe comes from… I found it some place lost in The Internets, made the dish and forgot to bookmark it. By the time I wanted to cook it again, was not able to find it and the details had washed away. So, I kind of have to recreate it from memory. After all, it is a good Summer dish. The white wine and tarragon flavors combine for a light and fragrant sauce, which compliments the chicken perfectly. Caramelising the onions with the star anise makes them feel meatier, a trick I have learnt from George Calombaris during one of his Masterchef Australia’s Masterclass. I found it had to believe, but it works and slightly aniseed flavor is also a bonus.

Pan fried chicken with a white wine, mushroom and tarragon sauce. 

Ingredients 

  • 2 Chicken thighs
  • Flour (I used Maizena)
  • 4 Medium size yellow onions, sliced in half-moons
  • 3 Star anise
  • 1 Clove of garlic
  • 500g  Button mushrooms, cut in 2cm slices
  • Tarragon to taste finely chopped (I used about 4 bunches)
  • 100mL dry white wine
  • 200mL chicken or vegetable stock
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 4-5 tablespoons of olive oil.

Method

Dip each chicken drumstick in the flour, salt and pepper to coat them lightly.  In a sauté pan, put the equivalent of 2 tablespoons of oliver oil over medium-high heat. When it is shimmer,  add the chicken thighs, and cook them for about 3 minutes on each side, until they get a little golden. Take them out from the heat and reserve.

In the same pan, put the sliced onions and the star anise, salt and pepper. Let it caramelise for about 15min, or until they are soft and translucent. Once they are ready, take them out from the heat and reserve.

While the onions are cooking, heat the equivalent of 2 olive oil tablespoons in another sauté pan. When the olive oil starts to shimmer, fold in the sliced mushrooms. Cook, stirring often, until lightly browned (about 15min).  Take them out from the heat and reserve.

In the same sauté pan you cooked the chicken thighs and the onions, put the 100mL of wine to deglaze. Let the wine reduce on a medium heat, and then put in the mushrooms and onions . Mix well to combine and let them absorb the wine for 5min. Put the chicken thighs in, and add enough stock to cover them. Once the stock is bubbling, fold in the tarragon. Let it is simmer for about 30min or until the stock is almost totally evaporated


		

Beef stew with mushrooms and vegetables

A dish with no history and minimal verbiage. I happened to have all these veggies in the fridge and Mr Caramelised brought home a cut of beef that screamed for stew. Forty-five minutes later, dinner was served.

Beef stew with mushrooms and vegetables 

Ingredients

  • 3-4 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 2 yellow onions, cut in half-moon slices.
  • 1 garlic clove, grounded
  • 250g of button mushrooms (Agaricus bisporus), sliced
  • 2 red peppers deseeded and sliced in fine strips
  • 3 zucchini (=courgette) cut in slices
  • 500g of stew beef cut in cubes
  • 50g of flour or Maizena
  • 100ml red wine
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 thyme springs
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 250ml of vegetable stock

Method

In a frying pan, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil until it shimmer. Toss the mushrooms. Let them fry until soft and fragrant. Reserve.

Clean the frying pan with a kitchen paper, put more olive oil and heat it until it shimer. Put the red pepper in, and let it fry until soft. Finally, add the courgette in the pan, and let it fry for a few minutes until soft . Reserve  courgette and red peppers, together with the mushrooms.

In the meanwhile, place beef cubes and flour in a bowl, season with salt and pepper and toss to coat. Shake off excess flour. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large frying pan over a high heat until it shimmer.  Add half the floured meat and fry until sealed and meat has begun to brown. Be careful not too put too many pieces in the frying pan. Instead of frying, the meat will boil to death, with rather unpleasant results. Reserve the meat.

In the same frying pan, put the onion and fry until caramelised, stirring occasionally (it must be soft and translucent. It will take about 15minutes). Add the grounded garlic and the reserved flour and panfry, stirring, for 1 minute. Pour in approximately 100mL of red wine stir well to combine and deglaze the frying pan. When the sauce starts to thicken, toss in the meat and reserved vegetables. Mix well to combine, and then add the vegetable stock. Add the bay leave and the thyme.

Let simmer for about 15min, until the stock reduces to half and the sauce is a bit thick. Take out from the stove and let it rest for a bit.


Russian egg and mushroom salad with mustard vinaigrette

I saw it on Orangette, who warned in no equivocal terms: this is not a beautiful egg salad. She was right. Indeed, this is not a good-looking salad. In fact, it is as ugly as dark stormy night. But, the flavors! Oh, the flavors!  It is just something that you cook, and have to it eat. And eat it again. And again. And again…  I now do it in relatively large batches, and try to make it last through the week by carefully rationing the portions. The flavors deepen over time, and can be eaten warm or cold. In the original recipe, the salad is served over toasted bread.

As I still cannot see mayonnaise in front of me without feeling nauseous, I replaced it with home-made mustard vinaigrette. I used the recipe of  The Reluctant Gourmet. Actually, his post on home-made vinaigrette is worthwhile reading if you have a vinaigrette fetich – it is one of the most comprehensive and detailed explanations I have seen. Not that I have seen many, but after reading his, I don’t feel the need to look at something else.

Russian egg and mushroom salad with mustard vinaigrette 

Ingredients

Salad 

  • 5 tablespoons of canola oil (I replaced it with olive oil, as usual)
  • 500g mushrooms, roughly chopped
  • 1 small yellow onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 bunch of finely chopped fresh dill (about 1/3 of a cup)
  • 4 hard-boiled eggs, roughly chopped
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Mustard Vinaigrette 

  • 1 glove of garlic, smashed
  • 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard (I also use old style mustard with all its grains)
  • 5-6 tablespoons olive oil
  • pinch of dried parsley
  • pinch of dried thyme
  • salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Methods

Heat 3 tablespoons of the oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat, and add the mushrooms. (If they don’t all fit in the pan at once, let the first panful wilt down a bit, and then add the rest. It’ll work out fine.) Cook, stirring often, until lighly browned, 14-16 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl, and set aside. Wipe out the frying pan.

Heat the remaining oil in the frying pan over medium-high heat, and add the onion. Cook, stirring often, until the onions begin to soften; then reduce the heat to low and continue to cook until lightly caramelized, 10-15 minutes. Transfer to the bowl with the mushrooms. Add the dill and eggs, and stir to mix.

For the vinaigrette, in a clean jar or small bowl, add the vinegar, garlic, mustard and mix well. Slowly add the olive oil while either whisking or stirring rapidly with your fork (I use a small stirrer, and add 1 spoon of olive oil at a time).  Add the parsley and thyme, salt and pepper, taste and adjust seasonings.

If you really must use mayonnaise, the in a small bowl, whisk together a 3/4 cup of mayonnaise, with 2 tablespoons of mustard, and 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice

Pile the salad on lightly toasted bread – preferably sourdough rye, if you’ve got some – and serve open-faced.