One of my father’s favourite French dishes is Pot Au Feu, a nourishing meaty stew that typically includes low-cost cuts of beef, sausage and vegetables such as carrots, turnips, leeks, celery and onion, which are cooked together for a long time to create something that is healthy, filling, warming, affordable and, perhaps most importantly, very tasty. This makes it an ideal January dish for those feeling fat, unhealthy and poor after the excesses of Christmas and the good news is that it can be adapted very easily to accomodate different types of meat or whatever other vegetables you may have hanging around.
This week, after three weeks of wilfully feeding my festive bulge (chocolate, crumble and ice-cream have all been firmly on the menu), I have decided to take action by making a sort-of chicken pot au feu-come-broth to kick-start a belated January health drive. It’s tasting mighty fine, so I thought I’d share my recipe.
Half a white cabbage
Three sticks of celery
Half a white onion
Three garlic cloves
A tablespoon of vegetable oil
A handful of fresh thyme
Two bay leaves
Three chicken legs (on the bone)
Six chicken thighs (on the bone)
A glass of white wine
Two chicken stock cubes
What to do with them
1. Roughly chop the cabbage, celery, leeks, white onion and garlic and throw them in a large saucepan with the vegetable oil. Fry this off for about four minutes until they start to soften then add the white wine and a handful of fresh thyme and cook for a further three minutes until the wine has reduced slightly.
2. Add the chicken pieces and the bay leaves and cover with about a litre and a half of chicken stock. Season with salt and pepper, cover and leave to simmer on a low heat. After an hour, the chicken pieces should be soft and melting away from the bone. Take each chicken piece out and remove the skin and the bone before returning the meat to the saucepan.
And there you have it. I’ll re-heat this for lunch and/or dinner a few times this week, adding boiled new potatoes, brown rice or barley to the mix if I’m feeling really hungry.