Lola and Finn's Mum

Lola and Finn's Mum

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Cheap and Cheerful...and Greek! - Chicken and Cauliflower Stew

As it happens, I quite like cauliflower and don't mind if it isn't smothered in cheese, or juzzed up into something a little more spicy, but I appreciate that I may be in the minority here and that the prevailing perception is that cauliflower needs all the help it can get. With that in mind, a google search recently involving the words 'Greek' and 'Chicken' came up with the recipe that you see below, courtesy of the New York Times. It was September, there was a perceptible nip in the air, I had chicken to use, but I didn't want to go down the British stodge route quite so early. Instead, I wanted something a little more reminicent of warmer climes, despite the obvious onset of Autumn.
Firstly, I was a bit peturbed by cauliflower in a stew. I really don't know why, but I suppose if there is some thing that I don't like about cauliflower it is that point where it goes from something resembling a flowery shape to an unidentifiable and not very appealing mush and I was concerned that this might happen during this cooking process. Happily it didn't. The stew is well flavoured and the cauliflower benefits enormously from this. And it's disguising a vegetable for the benefit of Lola and Finn. I know that I should be upfront about what I am feeding the children, and mostly I am, but sometimes the end justifies the means. Cooking like Machiavelli; maybe that should be the name of this blog.
This meal I think is quite cheap to prepare. it requires chicken pieces - cheaper and tastier than breast meat. Cauliflower can be picked up reasonably cheaply if you shop around. My local farm shop Windy Arbour is where you will find me looking for such stuff. Most of the other stuff is storecupboard I reckon. And this is easy to prepare. I hope you try it.
Greek Chicken Stew With Cauliflower and Olives taken from The New York Times Website
Serves Lola, Finn, Mum and Dad twice
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large red onion, chopped (I used an ordinary (yellow) onion. I'm not keen on red onions being 'cooked')      
2 to 4 garlic cloves (to taste), finely chopped      
6 to 8 chicken legs and/or thighs/pieces, skinned (I left the skin on as I used drumsticks - it was fine)    
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 28-ounce can chopped tomatoes (or two tins of chopped tomatoes if you are in the UK), with juice, pulsed in a food processor (I didn't pulse - I like chunky)      
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, or 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1 small or 1/2 large cauliflower, cored, broken into florets, and sliced about 1/2 inch thick
12 kalamata olives (about 45 grams), rinsed, pitted and cut in half (optional - I put them in but didn't give any to Lola and Finn; there really is no point)
1 to 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 to 2 ounces feta cheese, crumbled (optional, but obligatory in this house for Phill who adores the stuff)
 Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium-high heat in a large, deep, heavy lidded skillet or casserole and brown the chicken, in batches if necessary, about 5 minutes on each side.
 Remove the pieces to a plate or bowl as they’re browned. Pour off the fat from the pan. Add the vinegar to the pan and scrape up all the bits from the bottom of the pan.
Add the remaining tablespoon of the olive oil to the pan, and turn the heat down to medium. Add the onion and a generous pinch of salt and cook, stirring often and scraping the bottom of the pan, until it begins to soften, about 5 minutes.
Turn the heat to low, cover and let the onion cook for 10 minutes, stirring from time to time, until it is lightly browned and very soft.
Ended up using a bit of cinnamon stick because I had run out of cinnamon. Disorganisation in action!
Add the garlic and stir together for a minute or two more, until the garlic is fragrant, then add the tomatoes and their juice, the cinnamon, thyme, and salt and pepper to taste.
Bring to a simmer and simmer 10 minutes, stirring from time to time, until the mixture is reduced slightly and fragrant.
Return the chicken pieces to the pot, along with any juices that have accumulated in the bowl. If necessary, add enough water to barely cover the chicken. Bring to a simmer, reduce the heat, cover and simmer 20 minutes.
Add the cauliflower and kalamata olives and simmer for another 20 minutes, or until the cauliflower is tender and the chicken is just about falling off the bone.
Stir in the parsley, taste and adjust seasonings.
Serve with the feta sprinkled on top if desired.

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