Over the weekend, I made this amazing stew for a spontaneous dinner party that we had. Everyone loved it. It was very easy and served a crowd, plus we had left overs.
Chicken & Bacon Stew
3 Tbs olive oil
16 chicken pieces on the bone
6 oz Bacon, chopped
4 medium carrots, thickly sliced
2 onions, chopped
2 Tbs flour
1 Tbs tomato paste
1/3 cup white wine vinegar or cider vinegar
4 cups chicken stock
2 bay leaves
4 Tbs crème fraîche
1 lb small new potatoes, halved
12 large white mushrooms, quartered
chopped herbs, such as parsley, tarragon or chives
Heat oven to 400˚. Heat the oil in a large flameproof casserole with a lid. Fry the chicken pieces in batches for 5 minutes on each side until well browned, then transfer to a plate. Sizzle the bacon in the casserole for a few minutes until beginning to crisp. Stir in the carrots and onions, then cook for 5 minutes until starting to soften. Stir in the flour and tomato purée and cook for 1 min more. Finally, splash in the vinegar and stir well.
Pour in the stock and bring to a simmer. Add the bay, cream and seasoning. Slide in the chicken pieces and scatter over the potatoes, turning everything over a few times so that the potatoes are immersed in the sauce. Put the lid on and place in the oven. After 40 minutes, remove from the oven and stir in the mushrooms. Cover again and cook in the oven for 10 minutes more until the chicken is cooked through and tender but not completely falling off the bone. You can now turn off the heat, and chill and freeze some or all of it (see freezing tips, below). If eating straight away, cook for 10 minutes more, then sprinkle over the herbs and serve.
If in a suitable container, defrost in the microwave, then reheat in the microwave until piping hot. Alternatively, defrost in the fridge overnight and reheat in a casserole dish at 325˚ for 30-40 minutes until piping hot.
The stew can be frozen for up to 2 months. Freeze it in different-size portions to best suit your household. The best way to freeze the stew is in microwavable plastic storage containers that can be defrosted and heated directly in the microwave. You can also use freezer bags – but it’s best to freeze them sitting in a bowl in case of spillages. Always label each container with the name of the dish, the date it was cooked and the amount of servings it contains.