posted in: Birds, My garden, Recipes, Worcestershire | 0

Fieldfare exchange is no robbery – is that how it goes? Something like that, anyway.

I was busily constructing a Catalan chicken stew, which is one of R’s absolutely favourite dishes, when he walked through the kitchen and said, “Is that a fieldfare on the lawn?” I turned and looked, and replied, “Redwing,” but it turned out that we were both right – there was one of each, competing with the blackbirds and squirrels for some apples I’d put out yesterday. I love a redwing, as I daresay I’ve mentioned a few dozen times, but I was especially happy to see the fieldfare because it was the first of the year for me, and takes my 2022 bird list up to seventy species.

Should you be wondering, I make the stew with chicken breast, chorizo, onion, sweet peppers, garlic, pulped tomato, chicken stock, chick peas, black olives, tomato paste, smoked paprika, chilli, salt and pepper, white wine or dry vermouth, and a pinch of za’atar. It started life (I guess after a holiday in Barcelona, though I don’t actually remember the occasion when I first ate it) as a chicken stew with chickpeas and a few olives in it, but over the years the balance has shifted in favour of the vegetables, and it’s heartier and healthier as a result.

These days I fry off a couple of chopped chicken breasts and about half their weight of chopped chorizo, and dump them in the slow cooker. I then chop a Spanish onion (or two, depending on the size), and fry it with some crushed garlic and chopped chilli in the residual oil from the meat, add the spices and fry them off, then add a tin of pulped tomato and a slug of tomato purée, and finally a cup or so of chicken stock. When the mixture’s boiling it goes into the slow cooker, then I give the pan a final deglaze with about 150ml of white wine if there’s a bottle open or Noilly Prat if there isn’t, boiling off the alcohol, and add that to the slow cooker too. Then I throw in a bottle of chick peas (or two tins, if I don’t have the good stuff to hand) and about 300g or so of black olives – whole if they’re small, or halved if they’re big ones. When the slow cooker comes to the boil I turn it down to low and leave it alone for about three hours, at which point I chop the sweet peppers into chunks and stir them into the mixture. At this point I taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning if I think it needs it. After another couple of hours or so it’s done, without the peppers having turned to mush.

Depending on the exact quantities I’ve ended up using I can get three or maybe four meals out of this for the two of us. It freezes and reheats beautifully, and goes especially well with crisply fried or small roasted potatoes, and a green vegetable or two.