Wintery chicken, macaroni and leek casserole

What is the actual difference between stew and casserole? I would love to know. Answers on a postcard please.

This is actually my dads recipe, handed down and reinvented for my partner who can’t digest celery. If you can digest celery, please do put it in because it’s wonderful.

The lovely thing about this casserole is that it tastes different every time. Depending on your stock; your chicken; the wine, no two versions are the same which I love.

You can use any part of chicken on the bone or off the bone, obviously on the bone takes longer but yields a tastier broth. I like to use a mix of chicken breast and thigh, usually three of each to produce enough for about 4 meals from one pot. It’s hard to make a small amount!

Wintery chicken, macaroni and leek casserole

Ingredients

3 chicken breasts

3 chicken thighs

1 pack pancetta or smoked bacon lardons

5-6 shallots

1 large leek

1 pack mushrooms

2 cloves garlic

2-3 tablespoons of flour

1 litre chicken stock

Medium glass white wine

2-3 handfuls of macaroni or penne pasta

2 bay leaves

Handful of rosemary

Salt and pepper to taste

Method

1. If your chicken is filleted then cut into small portions and place in a small bowl. Cover with the flour and shake off the excess, you just want some flour to cling to the chicken, not coating it.

2. Chop your vegetables, the leeks, shallots and mushrooms. I like to leave the shallots whole and just take off the ends. You’ll be cooking this for a while and they will to all melty and nice.

3. In an oven proof dish, fry the pancetta in a little oil until browning slightly and then add the chicken. Seal the chicken so it is white all over, be careful to stir it a lot as the flour may cause it to stick.

4. Add the vegetables except the mushrooms, and the minced garlic and sauté for another 3-4 minutes, being careful not to brown the chicken. Pour over the chicken stock and add the wine.

5. Add bay leaves, Rosemary, salt and pepper and place the casserole in an oven on about 130-150 degrees (gas 2-3) for at least an hour, two hours if you have it.

6. Sauté the mushrooms in a little butter and then add to the casserole. Adding them too early means they lose their flavour so I like to add them in towards the end.

7. Add a handful or two of macaroni and return the pot to the oven for another 40 mins or so. You need to be confident here you have enough liquid as the pasta will absorb some of it. Add some water if you’re worried.

8. 40 minutes later, remove from oven and enjoy! Serve with mash for extra carb party or by itself with some bread.

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