Lola and Finn's Mum

Lola and Finn's Mum

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Definitely not cobblers and great as a Bonfire Night supper! Chicken cobbler with sweet peppers and tomatoes

May I suggest that if you are having some sort of bonfire event at your house in the next week or so, (for 'tis the season of fireworks just now) that this be something you serve. If we are doing something here (not this year...) then my mind tends to swing towards a beef stew of some sorts for reasons that I cannot rightly explain, however, this would be a brilliant thing to serve instead. Robustly flavoured, with some spice, warming, satisfying and with plenty of tasty Parmesan flecked carb topping to boot. How could it ever be wrong?
I cooked this a few times when I first got Tamasin Day Lewis' book 'Supper for a Song' and it was liked by all. Even Finn had a go, picking out the sausages and eating the cobbler crust after dipping it into the tomatoey juices, but then as is the case with the person who has too many cookbooks, it got put back on the shelf whilst I went on to explore new books, new tastes, new ideas...
So, a couple of weeks ago whilst surveying the fridge and hoping for some sort of inspiration it came back to me. That cobbler! I had the ingredients (mostly) and about an hour and a half or so later it was like the recipe had never left my consciousness and it was back on the table, ready to be dished up for a Saturday night dinner.
I really think this is a lovely, warming, hearty dish, perfect for this the first day of November, right through the cold dark days of winter. I hope you decide to make it.
Chicken Cobbler with Sweet Peppers and Tomatoes, adapted from 'Supper for a Song' by Tamasin Day Lewis.
My slight adaptations in red.
Serves Lola, Finn, Mum and Dad and two others
4 red peppers, which will need to be roasted (I used jarred roasted red peppers)
3 - 4 tbsp olive oil
1 large chicken, jointed (I confess - I used chicken breasts because that was what I had)
1 large red onion, peeled and finely chopped (I used an ordinary onion - I am not keen on cooked red onion)
3 - 4 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
3 celery stalks, destrung and chopped (I have to blitz mine because of Phill's celery aversion - see method)
a bouquet garni of sprigs of thyme, bay leaves and 2 strips of orange peel tied together (I used a tsp of dried thyme and just bunged 2 bay leaves into the mix)
1lb of good quality sausages, cut into chunky bits (optional - but compulsory in this house)
tin of cherry tomatoes (I used chopped - it was fine)
1/2 - 1tsp paprika
sea salt and black pepper
For the cobbler:
8oz plain flour
2 rounded tsp baking powder
3 1/2oz chilled unsalted butter, diced
4 tbsp freshly grated Parmesan, plus extra for sprinkling
6 sprigs of thyme, leaves stripped and chopped (or 2 tsp of dried thyme)
6fl oz single cream or full cream milk (I used milk)
If you need to, char grill the peppers then peel off the skins, or if you're like me, wait until a little later and then open the jar.
Heat half of the olive oil in a suitable ovenproof casserole pan and brown the chicken pieces. remove to a plate.
I have to blitz celery because Phill does not like the texture nor the appearance when it remains chunky. An added faff, but I think if I left it out you'd miss the taste...
Add the rest of the olive oil and saute the onion, garlic and celery until just beginning to soften. Add the herbs.
If you're using sausages, add them now and allow them to brown a little.
At this point return the chicken plus juices to the pan and then add the tinned tomatoes and the roasted red peppers, cut into strips. Sprinkle the paprika over and season. Bring to simmering point and then allow to cook for about 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the cobbler. Combine the ingredients, minus the milk, either by hand or by using a food processor (like I did) until it resembles breadcrumbs. Add the milk and use it to combine the dry ingredients until it coheres to a dough.
Flour your hands and make little scones, a couple of inches in diameter and about 1/2 inch thick. Plop them onto the stew, sprinkle over a little more grated cheese and then place the casserole into the oven, uncovered, for about 40 minutes until the cobbles have swollen, are golden brown and crisp.
This will be unbelievably hot immediately after coming out of the oven so allow it to rest for 10 minutes or so. Pour yourself a glass of wine and lay the table or something. By that time it will be ready to serve.

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