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One-pot wonders

The nights are getting shorter and colder and there is simply nothing better than tucking into a great big bowl of stew. It is time to get out those casserole dishes and start braising. Check out three of my favourite stews that I love to make around this time of year.

By the way, when I spent some time working in France, the place where I worked cooked this lamb stew. They didn't really have a name for it so I called it Dordogne lamb stew, as this was the region I was staying in. Seemed only fair, right?

Chicken stew

Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

>8 chicken thighs

>1 tbsp sea salt and pepper

>3 tbsp olive oil

>1 onion, sliced

>1 carrot, diced

>1 celery stalk, diced

>4 cloves garlic, minced

>6 tomatoes, diced

>250ml white wine, Chardonnay is good

>250ml chicken stock

>50ml tomato paste

>2 tbsp capers, drained

>2 sprigs of fresh thyme

Method:

>Pat dry chicken, season well with salt and pepper.

>Heat olive oil in a heavy based pan, brown chicken on all sides (do not overcrowd the pan) and set aside on a plate.

>Add onion, carrot, celery and garlic and cook for a further 5-7 minutes.

>Add tomatoes and cook for 5 more minutes.

>Add in wine and stock together and bring to a simmer.

>Add in tomato paste, capers, thyme and then put the chicken back in.

>Simmer for 15 minutes.

>Serve with pasta or rice.

Beef and Guinness stew

Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

>2½lb stewing beef (ask your butcher)

>Salt and pepper

>4 tbsp rapeseed or vegetable oil

>2 onions, diced

>2 carrots, diced

>2 celery stalks, diced

>4 cloves garlic, minced

>2 bay leaves

>3 sprigs fresh thyme

>1 tsp chilli flakes

>500ml Guinness

>250ml beef stock

>2 large extra carrots, cut into two-inch chunks

>1 lb baby potatoes, halved

Method:

>Cut meat into 2.5-inch cubes and season well with salt and pepper.

>Heat oil in a large casserole dish and brown meat on all sides in batches, taking care not to overcrowd the pan. Set meat aside on a plate.

>Add onions and cook for 3 minutes.

>Add carrots and celery and cook for a further 4 minutes.

>Add garlic, bay leaves and thyme together.

>Add chilli flakes along with the Guinness; scrape bottom of pan with a wooden spoon.

>Add in beef stock, bring pot to a simmer, place lid on top and place in a pre-heated oven of 325°F/160°C for two and a half hours.

>Add in carrots and potatoes during the last 30 minutes of cooking.

Dordogne lamb stew

Serves 4--6

>3lb lamb shoulder

>8 cloves garlic, minced

>1 sprig fresh rosemary

>300ml white wine

>3 tbsp rapeseed oil

>1 onion, diced

>1 tsp chilli flakes

>1 can roasted red peppers, cut into strips

>2 tomatoes, diced

>1 bay leaf

>300ml red wine

>500ml chicken stock

>Salt and pepper

Method:

>Marinade the meat with half the garlic cloves, rosemary and white wine. Let stand for one hour. Drain meat and discard the wine mix.

>Heat oil in a large heavy-bottomed pan, brown meat on all sides.

>Remove meat from pan and add onion and cook until browned.

>Add the rest of the garlic and cook for another minute.

>Return meat to the pan, stir in chilli flakes, peppers, tomatoes, bay leaf and red wine. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer for a further 15 minutes.

>Add chicken stock and bring back to a simmer for two-and-a-half hours or until meat is very tender. Add salt and pepper to taste.

>Serve with some crusty bread.


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