Fragrant Chicken Stew

A fantastic chicken stew recipe from Delicious Magazine , that also happens to be great for promoting restful sleep.

chicken stew

Serves 4

Takes 1 hour to prepare the chicken stew. Freeze for up to 1 month, then defrost for 24 hours and reheat on the hob for 15-20 minutes, until piping hot.


3 tbsp olive oil
1.5-1.75kg chicken, jointed into 8
Good pinch of saffron strands
2 heads fennel
12-16 shallots
125g pancetta or bacon lardons
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tsp fennel seeds, lightly crushed
1 tbsp Pernod (optional)
250ml dry white wine
350ml chicken stock, hot
3 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves picked
2 fresh bay leaves
2 tbsp butter, softened
2 tbsp plain flour
4 tbsp crème fraîche
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley, to serve


  • Heat the oil in a large flameproof casserole. Season the chicken pieces, and fry, in batches, over a medium-high heat until browned.
  • Put the saffron into a bowl, cover with 1 tablespoon of hot water and leave to soak. Slice the fennel lengthways through the root, so that the layers stay together in 1 piece.
  • Lift the chicken pieces onto a plate and set aside. Add the whole peeled shallots to the casserole and fry until lightly browned. Set aside with the chicken. Add the fennel slices to the pan and fry until very lightly golden. Set aside on a second plate.
  • Pour all but 1 teaspoon of the oil from the casserole, add the pancetta and fry until golden. Add the garlic and fennel seeds and fry for a few seconds. Add the Pernod and wine, bubble for a few seconds, then add the stock, herbs and saffron water.
  • Return the chicken and shallots to the casserole, cover and simmer gently for 5 minutes. Stir in the fennel slices, cover and simmer for 30-35 minutes, until the chicken is almost tender. (Don’t fully cook at this stage or the chicken and fennel will be overcooked when you reheat it.) Lift the vegetables and chicken out of the liquid and put into a ovenproof dish or foil tray with a lid – one big enough to fit the cooking liquor, too.
  • Mix the butter and flour together into a smooth paste. Bring the cooking liquor back to a simmer and whisk in the flour paste, a little at a time (you might not need to use it all), until the sauce has thickened. Simmer for a further 2-3 minutes. Stir in the crème fraîche and adjust the seasoning. Pour the sauce back over the chicken, cover loosely with cling film and leave to cool. Cover, label and freeze until required.
  • When you want to eat it, leave to thaw in the fridge for 24 hours. The next day, tip the chicken stew into a large casserole, cover and place over a medium heat. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring, for 15-20 minutes, or until piping hot. Scatter with the chopped parsley to serve.

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