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Let the good times casserole

Kevin Dundon, the Dunbrody House's star chef, shares his favourite recipes

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Slow-cooked Chicken Casserole

Slow-cooked Chicken Casserole

Slow-cooked Chicken Casserole

NOW that most children are back in school and college, and most of us are busy back in work, this week I decided to pull together some recipes that are not too taxing on the pocket and keep dinnertime interesting.

Firstly, my chickpea broth. It is budget-friendly as it requires only the core ingredients of a tin of chickpeas, a couple of tomatoes and some vegetable broth and harissa paste. The rest of the ingredients are optional, really.

You might not be a fan of chickpeas, but they are such a great pulse to use for cheap and cheerful family dinners, and perfect for all those Meatless Mondays.

They are packed with protein, with around 17g of protein in a 400g tin, once it's drained. But meat-lovers can also add some chicken or bacon to the broth if desired.

Next, to spice the broth up, I am turning to North Africa for inspiration. Originally from Tunisia, harissa is a red chili paste which gives a fiery kick to any dish. Simply spoon a little into the chickpea broth for a quick and warming autumnal dinner.

My next recipe is one of my all-time favourite dishes. Who doesn't love the smell of a welcoming casserole when they walk in the door in the evening? It is simply impossible to resist.

This slow-cooked chicken casserole has rich flavour which comes from the red wine and the colouration of the ingredients. Browning the chicken pieces on the pan first will help enhance the finished dish from a boiled mixture to a rich casserole.

One important trick for this recipe is the beurre manié - a mixture of butter and flour which replaces a roux, to ensure a nice coating yet pourable sauce.

You can make this recipe in a casserole dish but, if you have a slow cooker, it is even more convenient. Just reduce the quantity of red wine and stock by half, follow the rest of the recipe and cook for four hours on high. Enjoy with a dollop of creamy mashed potatoes.

Happy cooking,

Kevin

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Slow-cooked Chicken Casserole

Ingredients (Serves 4):

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50g butter

2 tbsp olive oil

1 chicken, divided into 4-8 pieces

Salt and black pepper

100g streaky bacon, chopped

300g button mushrooms, quartered

4 new sweet onions, quartered

3 garlic cloves, crushed

1 tsp tomato puree

300ml red wine

600ml brown chicken stock

3-4 sprigs of thyme

2 bay leaves

For the beurre manié:

25g butter

25g flour/cornflour

Chopped flat leaf parsley, to garnish

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 160C.

2. Place the butter and oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat. When hot, fry the chicken pieces for 2-3 minutes, until golden brown all over. Season well, then transfer to a casserole dish.

3. Add the bacon to the empty pan and fry for 2 minutes, or until browned. Transfer to the casserole dish.

4. Add the mushrooms, onions and garlic to the empty pan and cook for 4-5 minutes, until glazed and golden brown. Stir in the tomato puree, wine and stock, bring to the boil, then pour over the chicken in the casserole dish. Add the thyme and bay leaves, then cover and slow cook or braise in the oven for 40-45 minutes until the chicken is cooked through.

5. To make the beurre manié, 20 minutes before serving, combine the butter and flour in a small bowl.

6. Using a ladle, spoon some of the casserole sauce into a bowl and whisk in the beurre manié. Pour the mix back into the casserole dish and stir to combine with the rest of the liquid. It is very important that the liquid is a minimum of 80C or else the sauce will be lumpy.

7. Cover with the lid and continue to cook for the last 30 minutes, adding more beurre manié if required. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.

8. Serve with mashed potatoes.

Spiced Chickpea and Vegetable Broth

Ingredients (Serves 4):

1 tbsp rapeseed oil

1 onion, sliced

2 garlic cloves, chopped

1 leek, sliced

1 carrot, sliced

150g celeriac root, chopped

1 courgette (green or yellow), sliced

2 tomatoes, chopped

1 tsp harissa paste

1 tbsp tomato puree (optional)

400g tin chickpeas

100g barley

1 litre vegetable bouillon or stock

1 handful of microgreens

Salt and pepper

Method:

1. In a large saucepan, over medium heat, warm the oil. Add the onions, garlic and leek and sear for 2 minutes, stirring once or twice.

2. Add the carrots, celeriac, courgette, tomato, harissa paste, tomato puree, chickpeas and barley. Season well.

3. Pour over the stock to cover the vegetables. You may need more than 1 litre of stock.

4. Bring the mixture to the boil. Cover with a lid and simmer for 25-30 minutes, until the vegetables are softened and the barley is nice and plump.

5. Serve immediately or set aside to cool and store in the fridge for up to three days.

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Stephen McCormack pictured at his farm in Kiltale, Meath

Stephen McCormack pictured at his farm in Kiltale, Meath

Stephen McCormack pictured at his farm in Kiltale, Meath

 

TOP TIP: Give your meals a kick of flavour with mighty Microgreens

I used McCormack Family Farms  Signature Taste Microgreens Italian Mix in my chickpea broth.

Microgreens have gained popularity in restaurants in the last few years and are now available from most supermarkets. They are bursting with flavour as they are the young growth of peas, chives, radishes or cucumber.

Use them in broths, soup casseroles, stews or even sandwiches at the last minute to give a nice kick of freshness and flavour.

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