Chicken & Chorizo Stew – A Cold Nose Dish

Project4_Page000Yes, it’s that time of year again where the nights are getting darker, the bikini’s are firmly locked away in their summer drawer and we are all freezing are bottoms off when we open our front doors to head to work in the mornings.

It’s stew time!!! And I have the perfect one for those that want warmed-up cold noses and one-pot-wonders. I present to you, Chicken & Chorizo Stew!

This dish is good. And why wouldn’t it be? You’re pairing chicken with a fiery Spanish pig sausage for God’s sake! Definitely, a greater love story than Twilight… Match made.

Chorizo packs a great deal of flavour and it works really well with the delicate chicken. This stew has a slightly smoky, spicy flavour and the chicken ends up falling off the bone; moist and succulent!

It’s also super for winter dinner parties. I made this last year (yes; last year. Worst. Blogger. EVER) and it was for a dinner party with some friends. The dish was delicious and convenient because once you have done the prep and done the simple steps outlined below, there really is little else for you to prepare but maybe a green salad and opening a few bottles of red wine.

So warm up those noses, sit back and enjoy!

Difficulty: Easy

Prep and cooking time: 95 minutes

Price:  €16

Music I listened to: 

Instead of listening to music, I watched a few episodes of “Friends”. Ah, it never gets old.

Wine I drank: Pinot Noir

Serves: 4



  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 150g chorizo, cut into ½ cm slices
  • 850g-1kg chicken pieces
  • 1 large onion, peeled and sliced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced
  • 1 stick of celery, trimmed and diced
  • 200ml of white wine
  • 1 can of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 yellow pepper, deseeded and cut into 3cm pieces
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 4 potatoes, peeled and quartered
  • Sea salt  and black pepper



Preheat the oven to 170˚C/330°F.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large ovenproof casserole dish over a medium heat. Gently fry the chorizo until it starts to brown and the oil has turned all lovely and red. Remove the chorizo from the casserole dish to a clean plate.

Turn the heat up to medium-high and add half of the chicken pieces. Brown them on all sides for about 3-4 minutes and then remove them to the plate with the chorizo. Brown the other half of the chicken in the same way and remove to the plate as well.


Add the rest of the olive oil to the pan and then the onion, garlic and celery. Fry until soft. Add the wine to the pan and let it boil for a few minutes,


Now add the tomatoes, chicken and chorizo.

While the casserole is coming to the boil, add the pepper pieces, paprika and the potatoes to the casserole and cover with a lid. Let it simmer for 5 minutes and then transfer to the oven for an hour.


Remove the lid for the last 15 minutes to let the top brown.

Serve with a lovely green salad and a spicy Rioja Reserva to wet the pallet!


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Roasted Garlic, Basil & Parsley Pesto with Pan-Fried Chicken & Penne

Garlic- The Love of My Life! I am pretty sure that if there are such demons as ‘vampires’ out there in this world, they would run a mile from me. I have always, for as long as I can remember, just LOVED garlic. I just adore the smell of it on my fingers when I chop it, the fragrance it omits when it’s being fried and the essence that comes from the oven when it is roasted. Yeah, some people love garlic but hate its smell but this ‘stinking rose’ has a gorgeous fragrance in my book. I would read a recipe and when the ingredients list says ‘1 clove of garlic’, nine times out of ten I just think, “Puh, you wimp”!!! One clove equals two or maybe even three cloves in my translation. Load ‘em up!

To me, it’s just as important as salt and pepper and it is a staple for pretty much every dish I create. It adds its own natural, saltiness to food and it is a great old pal when it comes to aiding the management of blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

Yes, my name is Monica and I am a garlicholic.

Anyway, onto the story of my recipe! So I was feeling slightly delicate one Saturday afternoon which was due to a relatively heavy night celebrating my friend’s birthday when, it happened… The Hangover Munchies. However, these were not the kind that made me want to eat anything deep-fried and wrapped in bacon, but it was the type that encouraged a craving for a hearty, flavourful and cooked-with-love class of dish. Right away I knew what I wanted and what had to be the heroes of my next creation; Garlic and fresh herbs!!  Oh and maybe chicken too. And I want penne pasta. Oh and asparagus. Ok, to the supermarket before I add something stupid in there.

So I returned with all my ingredients and over a few glasses of Italian vino, I whipped up this dish. And it was amazing!! I finished my meal with a very happy little tummy and I was so satisfied that I couldn’t wait to cook it for my loved ones the next time I’m in the mood for some garlic loving!

If you adore garlic, try this!! It really is beautiful. Enjoy.

Difficulty: Easy

Prep and cooking time: 1hr 10 mins

Price:  €10

Music I listened to: I actually cooked while watching ‘(500) Days of Summer’.

Wine I drank: Montepulciano d’Abruzzo

Serves: 2


  • 4 garlic bulbs
  • 1 small baking potato
  • 300ml olive oil (the higher the quality the better)
  • 2 handfuls fresh basil
  • 1 handful fresh parsley
  • 2 organic chicken breasts
  • 7oz/200g penne pasta
  • 175g asparagus
  • 25g/1oz grated parmesan
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper



Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4. Place the garlic bulbs, unpeeled, in a shallow roasting tin and drizzle 200ml of the olive oil over them. Bake in the oven for 40 minutes. The smell will be amazing after about 20 minutes! Remove and let cool but be sure to keep the infused olive oil that is left on the roasting tray. You will be using this for the pesto!

As the garlic is roasting, rinse the potato, keep the skin on and bring to the boil in a heavy saucepan with salted water. Reduce the heat and let simmer until just ever so slightly undercooked. About 11 minutes. Drain and let cool. Remove the skin.

Now the chicken! Wash the breasts and pat dry with a kitchen towel. Season the chicken on both sides with salt and pepper.

Once the garlic has cooled, coarsely chop the herbs and potato, than transfer to a mortar. Squeeze out each clove of the cooling garlic into a bowl to produce a squishy, sticky, gorgeous purée. Transfer this to the mortar and add the reserved garlic infused olive oil. Add some seasoning and grind with the pestle.

Gradually add the remaining 100ml olive oil as you are grinding. You don’t have to use all the olive oil if you would rather the pesto be less oily. Keep grinding until all the potato has broken down and the pesto reaches a course, spreading consistency.

Bring a large, heavy saucepan of salted water to the boil and cook the pasta until al dente (firm to bite), which is about 8-10 minutes. Drain the pasta and place in a large bowl.

While the pasta is boiling, get your chicken ready. Add some olive oil to a heavy bottomed frying pan and bring to a medium-high heat. Add the chicken breasts and then turn down the heat to medium. Cook for 5 minutes on one side then turn over and fry for 6 minutes

Remove the chicken breasts from the pan and place on a chopping board to rest for a few minutes.

Cut the bottom ends off the fresh asparagus. Discard then chop the asparagus in half and place in a pan of boiling water. Blanch the asparagus for 1-2 minutes and remove from the water.

Now bring your attention back to the chicken and slice the beautiful chicken lengthways.

Add the chicken, roasted garlic pesto, asparagus and parmesan to the bowl of pasta and toss all the ingredients together. Season to taste.

Serve up in a warm dish and enjoy this gorgeous, yummy meal with some warm ciabatta or side salad and a glass of whatever wine you fancy!

Categories: Chicken, Main Course Dishes | 2 Comments

Chicken And Broccoli Gratin: The Gratin That Annihilates All Other Gratins

Food lovers; your search for the tastiest and sexiest gratin stops right here!!! This chicken and broccoli gratin is by far the nicest I have ever had the privilege to make and it leaves you wanting more and more despite how much your belt buckle is hinting that there is no more room left at the inn.

For those that are not familiar with gratin, ‘Au Gratin’ originated from French cuisine and it’s basically a technique where food is placed in a shallow, oven-proof dish and then topped with cheese, breadcrumbs, egg and/or butter. It is then browned in the oven. Gorgeous, simple and yummy.

Me likey a good gratin and this is it! I first made this in June for my friends, Suzy and Brendan. They just had their first daughter and it was Brendan’s birthday so I figured they could do with a treat. Therefore, I threw on my chef apparel and acted as personal cook for the evening. They thanked me in wine. I was happy with this exchange.

It was a hit all round and second helpings were a given. It was also the first time I made my own chicken stock for a recipe and for those non-believers of homemade bouillon out there, try it and you will be converted to the church of homemade stock. It’s healthier and literally changes the quality of the dish from tasty to ‘Oh my God, this is the meal to end all meals’. Sadly, it has now turned me into a chicken stock snob and Knorr bouillon cubes just don’t cut the chicken anymore.

This gratin is quite simple to make but it does require some time to put together if you want to do it right and not cheat. That means no processed stock cubes, making the stock from scratch by using a whole chicken, leaving it to sit overnight and making your own roux which is so easy even my 13 week old Goddaughter can master it.

My inspiration for this recipe comes from the Avoca Cookbook and they regularly serve their version of this in their café in Kilmacanogue, Co. Wicklow; I have changed it by adding button mushrooms to the gratin and garlic and dried mixed herbs to the stock, leaving it to marinate overnight. In addition, I insist on using a whole, uncooked chicken for the stock and not skimp with just a couple of chicken breasts. The bones from the whole chicken make the skin so tender which adds the full amount of flavour to the bouillon.

Enjoy making this! I am jealous of your finished product already. Oh yes, it is THAT good!!

My Sous-Chef/Photographer!

Difficulty: Easy-medium

Prep and cooking time: 3.5 hours spread over 2 days

Price:  €15

Sous-Chef/Photographer: My ball and chain

Music I listened to: X-Men: First Class soundtrack by Henry Jackman

Wine I drank: I was actually in the mood for some beer so I had a few Coors Light

Serves: 6


The Stock Ingredients

The Stock

  • 1 whole, uncooked Chicken
  • 1 Onion, peeled and chopped
  • 2 Celery sticks
  • 2 Carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 Garlic cloves, peeled and chopped in half
  • A few sprigs of Parsley
  • 1 Bay leaf
  • 1 tbsp dried, mixed Herbs
  • A few black Peppercorns


The Gratin

The Gratin Ingredients

  • 600ml/1 pint Chicken stock reduced from the prepared above
  •  300ml/1/2 pint double Cream
  • 110g/4oz Roux (please see below for ingredients)
  • 1 whole shredded Chicken from above stock ingredients
  • 100g button Mushrooms, cut in half
  • 1 large head Broccoli, divided into florets
  • 85g/3oz Butter
  • 140g/5oz Breadcrumbs



  • 50g/2oz Butter
  • 50g/20z plain Flour



Day 1…. The Stock!

Put the whole chicken in a large saucepan with the onion, celery, carrots, garlic cloves, parsley, bay leaf, dried mixed herbs and peppercorns and enough water to cover.

Bring to the boil slowly, then reduce the heat and simmer until the chicken is cooked. This should be about an hour. Take away from the heat and remove the chicken from the saucepan and leave to cool.











Once cool, strip the meat off the bones, dice and set aside to cool then cover and place in the fridge for use in the gratin the following day.


(Ignore the yellow peppers! They were used for another dish I was also preparing)











Cover the cooking liquid and leave to cool overnight. This will allow the flavours to intensify and come together naturally. That’s it for this evening! Sit down, relax and think how gorgeous dinner is going to be tomorrow.


Day 2…. The Gratin!

It’s gratin dinner night! Now get down to business; boil the reserved stock that you prepared the day before until it is reduced by half then strain the liquid. (This basically means taking out or sieving all the cooked vegetables from the stock).  Then bring to the boil again until it is reduced to 600ml/1 pint. This whole process may take over an hour.

While the liquid is reducing, make the roux with the flour and butter outlined above in the ingredient list. Melt the butter, add the flour and cook gently over a low heat for 5 minutes. Be sure not to colour the roux. Set aside and allow to cool. It’s that simple.








Now, back to the liquid! Once it has reduced to the required amount, add the cream and return to the boil. Reduce to a low-medium heat and whisk in the roux a little at a time. You will notice the sauce start to thicken.











Stir in the chicken you set aside in the fridge the day before and the button mushrooms with broccoli. Season with salt and pepper to taste… yes; TASTE! This is when you first get the chance to sample what is about to come!











Once you have stopped sticking your spoon or finger into the sauce (purely to make sure the seasoning is correct of course…), pour the mixture into an ovenproof dish.

Now for the topping; Melt the butter and mix with the breadcrumbs. Spread over the chicken mixture and bake in a preheated oven to 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4 for 20-30 minutes or until brown and bubbling.

NOTE: You don’t have to throw the gratin in the oven immediately. When I have friends over, I make this ahead, leave it aside and put it in the oven when we are ready to eat. I recommend you increase your cooking time from 20 mins to 25-30 mins if you do this.

I serve this with carrots, coated in honey, butter and chopped parsley and also some new potatoes rolled in butter with chopped shallots.

Enjoy the most fabulous gratin. Be sure to wear your stretchy pants to make room for seconds!!!!

Categories: Chicken, Main Course Dishes | Leave a comment

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