Saturday, 19 January 2013

Cold outside? Need something to warm the soul? You need to cook this tonight.

I LOVE snow. I don’t think that feeling of excitement as the flakes start to fall, followed by the deep rooted anguish of ‘will it stick?!’ will ever go away. Of course the gut retching disappointment when it starts to melt, and the ‘walking with trepidation’ that accompanies a trip into town is something that we push to the back of our minds – for the time being at least.

The cold weather also ignites a certain culinary spark in you, and that’s exactly what happened to me last night. I needed something warming, soothing and slightly spicy.  Something cooked in a big pot that can bubble away without too much care and attention. The answer to this is below.  And if you’re looking out of your window, and see a white blanket of icy snow, I’d wholeheartedly recommend you make it as well (assuming to can get to the shops that is – my trip last night was a little ‘I don't know what' as the French say!).

Oh – try saying it over and over.  Or after two pints ;-)

Chipotle Chilli Chicken Stew
Serves 4 people

1tbsp vegetable oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
½ tsp dark brown sugar
1 ½ tsp chipotle chilli paste (I found mine in the ‘specialist’ aisle at Sainsburys)
400g can chopped tomatoes
4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts (or 5 boneless, skinless chicken thighs works just as well)
Salt to taste
1 small red onion, sliced thinly into rings or half-moons, to serve
A few coriander leaves
Rice or flours tortillas to serve

1. Heat the oil in a medium saucepan. Add the onion and cook for 5 minutes or until softened and starting to turn golden, adding the garlic for the final minute. Stir in the sugar, chipotle paste and chopped tomatoes and bring to the boil.
2. Put the chicken into the pan and spoon over the sauce. Simmer for 20 minutes until the chicken is cooked (if using chicken thighs increase this to 30 minutes so that any remaining fat melts into the sauce). Add a splash of water if the sauce looks like it’s getting too dry.
3. Once cooked, remove the chicken from the pan and shred with two forks and then stir back into the sauce. Make sure every piece is coated with the lovely spicy sauce. Season with salt to taste. Scatter with the sliced red onion and coriander leaves, and serve with rice or flour tortillas.

As an alternative, I've also had this with pitta breads, loaded with salad, followed by the chicken stew piled on top. Spot. On.

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