The chicken can be a scraggy old boiler as it’s going to cook for ages. Similarly the meat should be cheap stewing cuts — breast or shoulder of lamb, shin of beef, hacked roughly into pieces. This is not an elegant dish!

Ras-el-hanout is a North African spice mixture. If you can’t get it or the French 4-épices, use paprika, cayenne, and coriander to season the stew.

Harissa is a kind of very hot chilli paste.

The vegetables can be varied although I think turnips and carrots are essential for the flavour.

You can cook the chickpeas from scratch yourself, but you have to soak them for ages beforehand. I think it’s easier to just use a can or jar (particularly if you didn’t think of making the couscous until the night before).

You will need a large stockpot with a lid which will take all the ingredients with room to spare.

This quantity will feed at least ten people.

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Braised chicken thighs with chicory and bacon

Chicory is something I never ate in the UK, and thought I probably didn’t like. But over the last year I have discovered its virtues, when treated correctly (i.e. water should not come anywhere near it, if you want a result that is not limp, soggy, and unpleasantly bitter). Endives au gratin, where the chicory is pre-cooked, wrapped in ham, and covered with a nice cheesy sauce before being popped in the oven, is easy and obvious, but here’s a wonderful Simon Hopkinson recipe that sets it off at its best. Serves 2.

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Boeuf aux carottes et à l’orange

Years ago, I had a dish of boeuf aux carottes in a suburban bistro in Paris. Accompanied with noodles and a glass of beaujolais nouveau, it was absolutely divine (although I had a strong suspicion it was actually horse). I have tried several times since to reproduce this classic French dish, without success. This version, cooked by Steve recently using a recipe in a magazine, is as close as I have ever tasted — the tarragon is an inspired touch. Lovely with either noodles or baked potatoes to mop up the sauce.

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Blanquette de poulet

This is real traditional French bourgeois cooking. To be truly authentic, it should be served with plainly boiled white rice to soak up the sauce, but pasta or steamed new potatoes are also possibilities.

[note for purists — strictly speaking this should probably be called Fricassée, not Blanquette, as the meat is browned before cooking]

For 4 people:

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