I think stew is the antidote to winter's chill. A bowl of tender pieces of meat, soft vegetables, thick gravy and bread to mop all the juices, eaten on a sofa and a bottle of cider, ah... heavenly! When I think of a stew, I immediately drawn to beef or lamb. And obviously there is nothing wrong with beef or lamb stews, not at all. But today, I want something lighter but still hearty and comforting, so I made this lemony chicken stew with fennel and green olives.
The idea for this is pretty much like chicken cacciatore, the Italian hunter-style chicken braised in a tomato based sauce with onions, garlic and white wine. I added fennel to this which I love especially when it's cooked slowly and became soft and sweet with a mild liquorice flavour; green olives, I love olives full stop, and lemon juice to brighten up the stew and to bring a little spring on a cold winter's night.
Lemony Chicken Stew with Fennel and Green Olives
Recipe by Me
Serves 4 - 6
1 small chicken, cut up into 8 - 10 pieces
2 fat spring onions, or 4 skinny ones, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 fennel bulb, roughly chopped (save the tops for sprinkling later)
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
250 ml white wine
400 g can of cherry tomatoes
250 ml chicken stock
100 g pitted green olives
400 g can of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
Salt and black pepper to taste
Flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped
In a medium cast iron stew pot, heat about 3 tablespoons of olive oil and brown the chickens in batches. I don't like browning chickens as the oil tend to spit all over, but it does give extra flavours, so be patient. Remove the browned chickens from the pot and put on a plate to one side.
In the same pot, adding more oil if necessary, sweat the spring onions, garlic and fennel for a few minutes. Pour the wine and scrape the brown bits sticking to the pot and let it reduce a little before adding the cherry tomatoes, stock and lemon juice. Put the chicken back in the pot and let it simmer for 30 minutes. Add the cannellini beans and green olives towards the end of the cooking. Taste and adjust the seasoning.* Serve with sprinkling of parsley, fennel tops, lemon zest and bread to soak up the sauce.
*You can serve the chicken on the bone or take them out, let cool a little and shred the meat and put them back in the pot. And if you're like me, you save the carcass to chew later.