Aug 18

Warming Chicken & Ham Stew with Savoury Scones



Warming Chicken Stew with Herbed Scones




Where on earth has summer gone?? One minute it was the bane of my life and the next … poof! All manner of warmth and sunshine has rapidly vanished, to be replaced by stormy grey days that seem to go on forever. Hellooooo autumn!


I may sound crabby and bitter, but don’t get me wrong tho, I do prefer the cooler months … just not when they are wet and windy like it has been here for days. There are days where lightning rips through the sky so violently, I refuse to go out with the dog. I believe it’s about time to buy new rubber boots; the days seem to get wetter and wetter by the day. Autumn also brings with it so many happy events to look forward to: Mooncake/ Lantern Festival, Halloween, Thanksgiving … all the good stuff. And when good stuff happens it is usually accompanied by the baking and cooking of traditional fare, hence, best season of the year!


Today’s recipe is not only going to be hearty and soulful, but low-fat too. I use no oil in this soup; the only fat comes from the chicken, of which we will skim off later in the cooking process. Lots of veggies are added to flavour the stew and a light roux is added later to thicken it up. If you really want to keep this dish super low-fat then forget the white roux and replace it with my secret ingredient (more on this later). This is a deep flavoured stew that’s cooked over a long period so don’t be expecting dinner within the hour. What’s nice about this recipe is that you can start this in the morning and then simply heat it up later in the evening. Also it can feed just two people or scaled up to feed a family of six, eight, ten … and ingredients are actually cheap. Cheap + good for you = winner, winner chicken dinner!


If you have a large family or are feeding a crowd you can use a whole chicken. But in my house I cook for just two, therefore I buy chicken parts. For stews and long braises I tend to favour dark meat, so that means chicken thighs, drumsticks and wings. These cuts stay succulent and don’t turn chewy after long cooking. Always boil them with the bones in to impart the most flavour. I love to use chicken wings coz they have a lower meat to bone ratio, and they are full of collagen which helps thicken the stew naturally.



Warming Chicken & Ham Stew

  • 1 kg chicken wings and thighs (bone in)
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 cup leeks
  • 2 sticks celery
  • 1 carrot
  • ½ cup broccoli
  • ½ cup cauliflower
  • ½ cup brown field mushrooms
  • 150 g ham, cubed
  • 1 clove crushed garlic
  • bouquet garni (parcel of rosemary, thyme, bay leaf and sage)
  • 4 cups chicken stock or water
  • white roux or handful of arborio rice




To begin, chop up all the ingredients to the portions you want. It’s totally up to you if you want to keep things rustic and chunky or if you want to swing towards the fancier small-even-dice version. Just remember if your veggies are chopped small they will simply cook way faster. Wash the chicken pieces and pat dry.


Warming Chicken Stew with Herbed Scones2



Fill a large pot with cold water, then add the chicken pieces, onions, leeks, carrots, celery and bouquet garni. Whack on the fire to high and wait for the water to boil. No seasoning is added to the pot as yet. Once the water boils, turn down the heat to low, cover the pot and simmer for 45 – 60 mins. Slow gentle simmers bring out the best flavours and does not dry out the meat. The broccoli, mushrooms, cauliflower and ham will be added to the soup at the very end.



Warming Chicken & Ham Stew




Skim off any grey froth and fat from the surface of the soup. After one hour remove all the chicken pieces and the bouquet garni. Set aside in a large bowl to cool, then shred the cooked meat and discard the skin and bones.



Warm Chicken & Ham Stew5



Meanwhile, add salt, pepper, chicken boullion cube (optional) and the white roux. If you don’t like the roux idea, then add a generous handful of arborio rice, also known as risotto rice. This is a trick I learned from Jamie Oliver’s shows. The arborio rice is very starchy and as it cooks down it will thicken the liquid in the pot. Leave it to soften completely on medium heat and then blitz with an immersion blender. What you will get is a nice thick soup without using any cornstarch or fatty roux. The rice also has a nice neutral flavour which means you won’t be left with a floury after-taste, as rouxs can sometimes impart.



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Once the soup is nice and smooth, return the pot to the fire and add all the other bits that you had left out earlier: ham, broccoli, cauliflower and mushrooms. Leave them on low heat to soften for about 5 – 6 minutes then stir in the cooked chicken meat. Season accordingly and serve along side crusty bread or, like me, I made some savoury herb & cheese scones. I intentionally did not make these scones too tall because they are rather filling and I wanted them to be like little biscuits, to be dipped into the stew and not fill you up too much.




  Top tip: If you really want to add an awesome flavour dimension to your stew, use smoked ham hocks and simmer them with the chicken.  



Savoury Herb and Cheese Scones1



Savoury Herb and Cheese Scones3



The inspiration for this pairing came from the classic chicken and dumpling stew, but the idea of stodgy dumplings, steamed over the broth, did not appeal. I have had that version of a dumpling and it had the texture of a doughy sponge … I was not a fan. Hence why I decided to bake my scones separately … and I think this concept has worked tremendously. Just imagine a basket of these warm babies served next to a steaming bowl of hearty chicken & ham stew (or any stew for that matter!). This stew can even be made a day ahead and then used as pie filling.



Warming Chicken Stew with Herbed Scones8



Warming Chicken Stew with Herbed Scones7



If, like me, you find yourself reeling from the sudden departure of warm sunshine … then make this soup. If you are feeling poorly and a bit miserable from a head cold … make this soup! Or perhaps you are looking for healthier options for the family and want to incorporate more whole foods … then MAKE THIS SOUP!! Add corn, add green beans, cabbage, turnips, anything you fancy. I foresee lots more soups and stews making their way onto my blog as the days get progressively bleaker. Ooh ooh … I just had a vision just this very second: Oxtail Stew!! Oh man, I can almost smell it now, but let’s keep that for another day and I hope you guys will stay tuned for that one. In the meantime, stay warm and good luck in the kitchen (while I help myself to a second scone). For the scone recipe, click here.




~ Enjoy! ~


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