Chicken Casserole

When chicken for roasting were considered to be a luxury meal, my mother would buy older chickens and make a casserole.

This is a dish I often make as I find it so easy and delicious.  It comes out slightly different every time, depending on what I vegetables I have bought  and what I have in the fridge or my store cupboard.

You can use a whole chicken and put that into the dish with the other ingredients but nowadays I usually chicken pieces with thighs being my favourite .

I have not given amounts because they are not that important, they will depend mostly on the size of your dish.

Ingredients

The following are the basic ingredients, the must haves.

Whole chicken  or chicken pieces – I think chicken thighs are the best

Onion – chopped – you can use spring onion or leek as well, or even instead of

Garlic – at least 1 clove

Tomatoes – fresh, tinned or passata or

250 ml chicken stock  (can be from a cube) with 1-2 tablespoons of tomato purée

Bay leaf

Herbs – I use Italian seasoning or oregano & 1-2 teaspoons of sweet paprika

Salt and pepper

Optional

This dish is so versatile – you can add any vegetable that you have –  I use some of the following: (mushrooms, carrots and peppers being the most often used)

Mushrooms – button ones put in whole or larger ones cut into 2 or 4 without the stalks as these tend to be too woody

Carrots – chopped

Peppers –sliced, any colour, fresh or from a jar or tin, I like red the best

Celery or celeriac– chopped

Tinned sweet corn

Tinned beans – any variety

Lettuce – shredded fine

Parsnips – chopped

Courgettes or cucumber – thick slices

Cabbage – shredded fine

and so on with vegetables …

Glass of white wine or vermouth or sherry

and 2 tablespoons of soured cream to serve.

Method

Pre-heat the oven to Gas Mark 4 – 180°C or get ready a slow cooker.

Put the chicken into a large casserole dish or if using chicken pieces remove the skin and roll them in a mixture of flour and herbs and lightly brown them in a frying pan and put these into the dish.

Fry the onions and garlic and add these to the dish.

Add all the other ingredients to the dish.

There will be enough liquid in the vegetables for the casserole, so do not add any extra water – but you can add extra stock, wine or sherry if you want now  or later if the liquid becomes too reduced.

Cover the dish with a lid or foil and place in the hot oven for  at least 3 hour for chicken pieces & 4 hours for a whole chicken.

 

 

 

Tip

This dish is best made the day before, cook it for at least 2 hours and then leave it in the dish to cool.  The following day put it a medium hot oven again for at least 1 hour.  (You might want to add extra stock, wine or sherry if the liquid has become too reduced.) The juices soak into the meat and it tastes wonderful.

Serve with potatoes, rice or buckwheat .

Gulasz

  • The word gulasz comes from the Hungarian gulyás and is the word for a casserole or stew.
  • In Hungary the meat would most likely have been beef but in Poland it is either pork or beef.
  • When beef is used it is usually called węgierski  – Hungarian style.
  • As stewing steak used to be more readily available in England than casserole pork my mother made this with beef.
  • I make this with either beef or pork, both are delicious as the slow cooking and tomato purée give an intense rich flavour.

Classic Gulasz

Ingredients

  • 500g stewing beef or shoulder or spare rib pork
  • 2 onions
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 tablespoons of tomato purée
  • 250ml chicken stock – can be made from stock cubes
  • 2 teaspoons of (sweet) paprika (not smoked)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 tablespoons of plain flour
  • salt & ground black pepper
  • oil for frying

Method

  • Pre heat the oven to Gas Mark 3 – 1600C
  • Roughly chop the onions and crush the garlic.
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Mix the tomato purée and the paprika into the stock.

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Cut the meat into cubes and coat the pieces in a mixture of flour, salt and ground pepper.

Beef Coated in Plain Flour, salt & pepper
Beef Coated in Plain Flour, salt & pepper

In a frying pan heat the oil until it is hot and fry the meat until all the sides are sealed.

  • Place the meat into a casserole dish.
  • Fry the garlic and onions in the frying pan, adding some oil if necessary but trying not to use too much or the dish will be greasy.

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  • Add the onions to the meat then add the bay leaf and some more ground pepper.
  • Pour the stock mixture into the casserole dish and put on the lid.

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Cook in the oven until the meat is tender, this could be about 3 ½ hours  to  4 ½ hours but often I find it needs  longer.

Classic Beef Gulasz

Serve with potatoes, hefty style pasta or boiled rice as well as salads such as:

If served on top of a large, breakfast plate sized potato pancake this is known as a

węgierski placek  – Hungarian pancake.

Tip

  • Make this a day ahead of when you need it, cook the dish for at least 3 hours and leave it to cool.
  • The next day cook it again for at least 1 hour, you might have to add a little water or stock but not too much, the sauce should be thick not watery.

Using a slow cooker

  • Nowadays I often make gulasz using a slow cooker instead of the oven.
  • I made a gulasz using pork shoulder and cooked it in the slow cooker for 8 hours.

Pork gulasz served in a dish by J & G Meakin Studio Pottery

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Luxury Style Gulasz 

All houses in Poland have cellars and even people living in block of flats have a cellar area of their own; if you ever get the chance to look in these you will find that they are filled with: jams, preserves, bottled fruit and vegetables, sauerkraut and salted gherkins.

Bottled sweet red peppers in brine are often found amongst these jars.  The addition of the peppers from one of these jars to the gulasz makes it even better.

Of course if like me you do not have the home-made variety you can buy these from most delicatessens or supermarkets now.

One Of My Two Cellars

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You can use fresh red peppers and I use these when they are plentiful, either will make a delicious gulasz but I think I like ones with the bottled peppers best.

The recipe is a variation on the classic gulasz but you have to use less stock or you will end up with it being too watery due the water content of the peppers – especially the fresh ones.

Ingredients

  • 500g stewing beef  or shoulder or spare rib pork
  • 2 onions
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 3 tablespoons of tomato purée
  • 150ml chicken stock – can be made from stock cubes
  • 2 teaspoons of (sweet) paprika (not smoked)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Jar of bottled red peppers or 3 to 4 fresh red peppers
  • 2 -3 tablespoons of soured cream
  • 2 tablespoons of plain flour
  • Salt & ground black pepper
  • Oil for frying
  • Paprika to dust on the top

Method

  • Pre heat the oven to Gas Mark 3 – 1600C
  • Roughly chop the onions and crush the garlic
  • Mix the tomato purée and the paprika in the stock
  • If using the bottled peppers cut them into long strips and then cut these into halves
  • If using the fresh peppers, cut them into long strips, de-seed them and cut these into halves
  • Cut the meat into cubes and coat the pieces in a mixture of flour, salt and ground pepper
  • In a frying pan heat the oil until it is hot and fry the meat until all the sides are sealed
  • Place the meat into a casserole dish
  • Fry the garlic and onions in the frying pan, adding some oil if necessary but trying not to use too much or the dish will be greasy
  • Add the onions to the meat then add the bay leaf and some more ground pepper
  • Add the peppers to the dish and mix the contents together

Pour the stock mixture into the casserole dish and put on the lid

Cook in the oven until the meat is tender, this could be about 3 ½ to 4 hours but often I find it needs longer.

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When you are ready to serve the gulasz, mix in one to two tablespoons of soured cream and then put the other tablespoon of soured cream on top in the centre and dust some extra paprika on this.

Serve as for the classic style gulasz.

Here served in a dish by J & G Meakin – Topic from 1967