Let's talk about herbs and spices, shall we? Growing up, we had a big box of herbs and spices but - true to that Michael McIntyre sketch - they were very rarely removed from the cupboard. I remember searching for a specific herb and finding a packet which had gone out of date before we'd moved house, five years previously. From anecdotal evidence, I suspect our family was not the only one that neglected the spice rack in cooking. Which is a shame, because a sprinkle of this and a teaspoon of that can really lift a dish, enhance flavours and change a thrifty dish into a masterpiece.
It's not very expensive to invest in the basics and they last for a long time. Having a well-stocked shelf of herbs and spices makes cooking from scratch much easier and more enjoyable so I thought it was time to wax lyrical about the importance of seasoning, as well as offering you the perfect opportunity to try it out: this hearty chicken and chorizo stew using some of the Schwartz products I have on my shelf.
Of course, salt and pepper is the very minimum you should be adding to your dishes and these Schwartz salt and pepper grinders are perfect. You can adjust the grinder to 'fine', 'medium' and 'coarse' depending on your preference, and I think it goes without saying that freshly ground is soooo much better than the table salt and pepper that usually goes in shakers. They're a bit more expensive but the cost per use is relatively small and definitely worth it.
When it comes to seasoning a dish, it's something you learn as you go along. Most recipes say 'salt and pepper, to taste' and that's really what it means. There isn't a correct amount, and you'll learn how much you like by tasting as you cook. If you're unsure, it goes without saying that you should add less to start with and build up - it's very difficult to save a too-salty stew!
Stews are the perfect winter dish, particularly if you're feeding a large number of people. The smoky, rich flavours of this chicken and chorizo stew is enhanced by the paprika and is the perfect antidote to the winter blues. It's also a one-pot dish, which saves on washing up as well. As with all stews, it's infinitely customisable depending on your preferences. I've used chicken thighs, as I think they have more flavour in a dish like this, but you can use breast, if you prefer. Similarly, I've added both cannellini beans and kidney beans as they're my favourite, but haricot or butter beans will work just as well. As with the seasoning, it comes with practice.
If you can, make it the night before and then simmer for another half an hour on the day you want to eat it - the flavours will intensify overnight. However, it's still good on the day that you cook it - just serve with big hunks of crusty bread and a thick layer of butter.
For a stew which serves 4-6, you'll need:
- 6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs cut into chunks
- 1/2 chorizo ring, casing removed and cut into chunks
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 1 pepper, chopped into chunks
- 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- 300ml chicken stock
- 1 can of chopped tomatoes
- 1 can kidney beans
- 1 can cannellini beans
- A big squeeze of tomato paste
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 tbsp. paprika
- A big glug of wine (about a glass' worth)
1. Add a little bit of oil into a large, heavy bottomed saucepan and turn on a medium heat.
2. Fry off the chicken and the chorizo until the chicken starts to brown.
3. Add the onion, pepper and garlic and continue to fry/brown for another 5 minutes.
4. Pour in the stock, chopped tomatoes, beans, wine and tomato paste. Mix thoroughly.
5. Season with the salt, pepper and paprika,
6. Bring to the boil and boil for 5 minutes.
7. Turn the heat down looowwww and simmer for 45 minutes.
8. Cover with a lid and simmer for another 1 hour and 30 minutes.
9. Either serve immediately, or leave to cool and place in the fridge overnight before reheating the next day.
Disclaimer: This post is in association with Schwartz