I love my Stephanie Alexander bible “The Cook’s Companion”. When we last visited Australia I made Y leave behind half her luggage so that I could fit this 2kg tome into her bag to bring back to London.
.Stephanie is great when you want to know how long to roast a particular cut of meat, how to save the tart that hasn’t set and other technical information, and she also has a super collection of classic, dependable recipes. The book is divided into chapters such as “abalone”, “eggs”, “okra”, “rabbit & hare” – so is the perfect book when you have a glut of one particular type of ingredient!.
I find I refer to Steph far more over this side of the world, because in Australia my first port of call was always my Mum (presumably much of the time she was on the other end of the phone leafing through her Stephanie bible to assist me), but now that we live in different time zones, I have come to rely on Steph a little more (I still of course discuss recipes and food with the domestic goddess that is my mother at every possible opportunity)..I like Steph because she’s like a grandmother culinary figure (and therefore fitting that I was given the book by my own grandmother) – always with an answer which you know will always be right.
But sometimes, like a grandma, I listen to all of Stephanie’s brilliant advice and I nod, smiling, and whilst in my head I know she knows what’s best for the chicken with red wine vinegar and tomato (after all, it is in her book), I also know that I will instead carry on and do it my own way – the much shorter, easier, with possibly not quite as good results way..I chose to ignore Stephanie’s advice and cook this Beaujolais casserole by throwing it all in Isaac the slow cooker and leaving it to cook for 6 hours.
It’s an incredibly lazy way to cook, so much so that it’s almost as though you haven’t cooked at all. It’s like you have a maid or a cook, or both – because by the time you come to eat, you’ve forgotten you were ever actually involved in cooking the meal!.I got up early(ish) Wednesday morning and into Isaac threw about 14 free range chicken thighs (seasoned), 8 peeled cloves of garlic, 12 peeled shallots, 3/4 cup red wine vinegar, 3/4 cup tomato passata (“or fresh tomato sauce you’ve made yourself” – not now Stephanie), and 3/4 cup chicken stock (this would feed about 5 people). I set Isaac to cook for 6 hours and went to work.
When I arrived home, Isaac was keeping the chicken warm and 2 minutes before we were ready to eat, all I had to do was blanch some green beans (although in retrospect perhaps some mashed potato would have been good too, but I can’t do everything)..To serve (take careful note, as this is complicated), life the lid on the slow cooker. Take a breather. Spoon the succulent chicken thighs, with a little tomatoey broth, some tender shallots and garlic, into a bowl. Sprinkle with parsley. Done..The result is a simple but soothing chicken casserole with a tangy kick of vinegar..Thank you Cook, you are dismissed, and please don’t mention to Grandma Steph that I adulterated her chicken casserole.