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Thursday 21 November 2013

Sluttishly Savoury: Thymey Winey Doctor Stew

Some days the cosmos just isn't willing to work with you. Some days the cosmos decides to throw a whole mess of crap at you instead. Friday, the fridge exploded. Flash, bang, big noise EXPLODED. So obviously my first thought was that I must have managed to break time and space. And as the Doctor says time is a big ball of Wibbly Wobbly Timey Whymey... stuff.

David Tennant is the inspiration for this thymey winey stew. Stews are the ultimate cozy winter dish. No chicken thighs? Then use beef or lamb (adjust the cooking time to about an hour, and check halfway through to make sure it's not drying out). It's a particularly good good for using up any root veggies that might be on the verge of turning. And the thymey dumplings and winey sauce might just help fix that little bit of the cosmos that's been screwing with your day.

Thymey Winey Doctor Stew: (makes 2 servings)
You'll Need:
For the stew:
  • 1 large onion chopped
  • 2 carrots peeled and diced
  • 2 celery stalks diced
  • 4 garlic cloves finely sliced
  • 100g pancetta
  • 5 tbsp plain flour (GF flour will work here too)
  • 2 tbsp thyme
  • 1 tbsp rosemary
  • salt and pepper
  • 4 small skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 leek chopped
  • Handful of green beans chopped into 1/2cm segments
  • 500ml pint chicken stock
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes 
  • Half a bottle red wine
For the dumplings:
  • 20g plain flour
  • 80g wholemeal flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 50g suet
  • 2 tbsp dried thyme
  • 5-10 tbsp of cold water
(For a GF alternative, check out Caleigh's Gluten Free Dumpling recipe here)

Make It!
  • Pre heat the oven to 220C/425F/Gas mark 7
  • Grab a casserole pan (one with a lid, that'll take you twice as long to find), pop it on the hob, throw a glug of oil in it and set to a medium heat. Chuck in your veggies and saute for 10 mins to get them nice and soft. Add the garlic and continue to cook for another 5 mins.
  • Scoop out the sauteed veg and replace with the pancetta, increase the heat a little so they start to get crispy.
  • While that's crispifying throw the flour, thyme, rosemary, salt and pepper in a sandwich or ziplock baggie and add the chicken thighs, shake then around so they get a good coating.
  • Remove the pancetta from the pan and lay the floured chicken thighs in the hot pan, brown them on both sides for about 3-5 mins each side (depending on how big they are), once done remove from the pan, lower the heat and splash some wine in the pan scraping all those crispy stuck bits off the bottom.
  • Now throw everything you've already cooked in the pan, laying the chicken on top of the pancetta and veg. Pour in the stock, tomatoes and wine and whack the heat up to high till the stew starts to boil
  • Let it bubble for a few minutes, giving it a stir and then put the lid on and pop it in the oven for about 30 mins.
  • While that's cooking, pop all the dumpling ingredients in a bowl and mix until you have a dryish tough dough (add a little more water if it's still refusing to come together), roll in to four equally sized balls and place to one side.
  • Once the stew has been in for 30 mins, bring it out and give it a quick stir to make sure nothing is sticking to the bottom, gently place the dumplings on the surface of the stew, replace the lid and put it back in the oven for another 20 mins.
  • Once that's up, pull it out, remove the dumplings and shred the chicken, taking out the bones. Serve your Time Bendingly Delicious Stew with the dumplings on top and with a big hunk of tasty bread or buttery mash.

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