This morning I had a bit of a scrape. Not the violent kind. Just a scrape of the windscreen. Jack Frost visited these parts for the 1st time in a while last night and it was certain confirmation that winter is upon us. And that is fine by me.
A lot of people agree that this is their favourite time of the year. Just 6 weeks before Christmas, and despite the pressure of shopping, the general public are already stocking up for the festive gorge. Me included. I cannot wait, and it is difficult not falling to temptation and slicing a slab off my already 3 week old Christmas cake as it wafts a spicy alcoholic fume at me each time I walk into the kitchen.
I'm still making good use of the never ending glut of root vegetables that keep coming my way. Just as I finish one week's vegetable box delivery, another is waiting for me to knock up a rooty feast. Today it was time for one of those sweet, spicy and scent packed North African inspired stews.
Any root slow braised in spices such as cinnamon, cumin and ground ginger will have their natural sweetness enhanced, and it is completely no fuss. Just 10 minutes of chopping and stirring then into an oven, 90 minutes later you will have a satisfying and warming exotic winter stew. 1 hour into cooking, add a bird such as chicken or a seasonal piece of game like pheasant and this will keep the carnivores happy. Omit the meat and add some chickpeas for the perfect vegetarian supper.
Spiced Honey Slow Braised Root and Chicken Stew
1 swede, peeled and chopped into large chunks
2 carrots, peeled and chopped into large chunks
1 sweet potato, peeled and chopped into large chunks
1 squash or small pumpkin, peeled and chopped into large chunks
1 onion, chopped roughly
2 cloves of garlic, sliced
1 tbps tomato purée
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tin of tomatoes
1 tin of chickpeas
2 tbsp honey
2 chicken breasts, sliced
2 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 - Pre-heat the oven to GM3, 160 degrees C.
2 - Heat the oil in a casserole dish and add the onions, cooking until soft for 5 minutes. Add the garlic, tomato purée and spices and stir for 2 minutes, then add all of the vegetables except for the chickpeas if using.
3 - Add the tomatoes and water and bring to the boil. Place into the oven for 90 minutes.
4 - After 1 hour of cooking, stir in the chicken and/or chickpeas along with the honey and place back into the oven for a further 30 minutes, ensuring that the chicken is cooked through.
5 - Taste for seasoning. Serve with plain cous cous with a good scattering of a fresh herb such as coriander or parsley and perhaps a handful of roasted pumpkin seeds.