The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land.” – G.K. Chesterton

Monday, 6 February 2012

Warming Chicken and Vegetable Stew

Whenever it's cold, wet and wintry outside, the kitchen beckons me to cook something warm and comforting for my family. It's times like this when you'd sometimes find me throwing together some vegetables and meat to make a one-pot wonder of a stew. Sometimes it amazes me just how effective it is to make a delicious base just by using three simple ingredients: onions, celery and garlic (the so-called holy trinity of the western cuisine world). I use potatoes to add some body to the stew, and a little curry powder for a spicy undertone. I have tried both bone-in chicken pieces and boneless thighs on separate occasions, and both turned out well. The bone-in chicken pieces will impart a richer and more flavourful stew, but it takes more time to cook; the boneless version offers convenience and brevity in cooking time but little compromise on taste. Using 1/3rd of a can of cream of chicken will add a creamy texture, but be sure to use a good quality brand with no MSG or artificial ingredients otherwise the stew will take on that 'canned food' taste and texture.

As with most of my cooking, I always eye-ball quantities, but the quantities given below should be a good enough guesstimate. A pot of stew is quite forgiving and flexible, and doesn't require precise amounts nor all of the ingredients (hence why I labelled mushrooms as 'optional'). Most of the effort is in the chopping, and then you let everything bubble happily away on the stove with the occasional stir. My family loves it, and I love how easy it is to make it!

I always find it challenging to present a photogenic shot of saucy dishes. Here's how the pot's contents looked like when I finished cooking the stew with boneless thighs and mushrooms:

Warming Chicken and Vegetable Stew


1kg bone-in chicken pieces or 500g boneless thighs (optionally cut into bitesize pieces)
1 medium onion (~150g), chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 celery stalks, roughly chopped
200g mushrooms, sliced (optional)
1 cup stock (water is sufficient if using bone-in chicken pieces)
1-2 teaspoons curry powder
1 large potato (~400g), cubed
1/3 of a 400g can Cream of Chicken (~150g)
Salt and pepper, to taste
Dried parsley, to taste


1. Sauté the onion, garlic, celery and mushrooms in a large pot on medium heat until soft (about 5-10 minutes).
2. Add the stock and curry powder and bring to a simmer.
3. Add the potatoes (and chicken, if using bone-in pieces), and simmer on low heat for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
4. If using boneless chicken, add the pieces after the potatoes are almost cooked in step 3, and simmer until chicken is cooked (about 5 to 15 minutes depending on size of the chicken pieces)
5. Stir through the Cream of Chicken, and cook for a further few minutes.
6. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and sprinkle the parsley into the pot and stir through.
7. Serve with rice, and supplement with more vegetables (stir-fry, casserole, salad) if desired.

I'm a vege freak so I always cook extra stir-fried vegetables. Here's the chicken stew plated on some rice and with stir-fried veg in my son's plate. I just realised he's had that BABYBJÖRN plate for almost 3 years!

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