… well it’s October (not that you need me to tell you) but it does feel as though it was July one minute and now it’s most definitely not, although if you’re in the UK you’ll be aware of the now almost regular anticlimactic decline from the two weeks of amazing weather back in July to this now noncommittal Autumnal fugue of mildness. The British summer weather is like being stuck on a slide in a children’s playground. You see it from a distance and with great glee you run up to it, climb the little ladder at the back and jump on expecting that rush of excitement only to become stuck a third of way down and have to shunt yourself down the slide whilst the other kids watch with laughter in their eyes… not quite winter, not quite end of summer… should I put the fire on? Can I cook casseroles and eat them with mash? Basically am I allowed to start developing my winter body yet or not? As it happens I’ve just come back from a quick birthday vacation in Mallorca where we managed to get a full week of end-of-summer sunshine which I can tell you is unbelievably good for the soul, particularly when we’re going into the shorter days and grey skies of autumn…. and now we’re home back at the cottage. It’s the first time in 20 days and I think that’s the longest it’s been for quite some time. I love getting back into the kitchen. As well as it being my favourite room in the house it’s also, once the oven is on, often the warmest. The weather can be raging outside but when I’m here and in a cooking mood, nothing can go wrong.
sticky paprika, chicken thigh and pumpkin casserole
As you all know, I actually love this time of year… Halloween, Guy Fawkes and the promise of Christmas but I particularly love this period when I can plan all the lovely soups and stews and roasts and slow-cooked recipes for the colder months. This particular dish is inspired by both my recent holiday in the Balearic Isles and the impeding pumpkin season. The paprika, particularly this smokey version is so rich and deep in taste and it has that wonderful heady aroma that works so well at this time of year but of course it also has that fiery kick that reminds me of classic Spanish dishes such as paella and chorizo. The pumpkin is actually a great vegetable for soaking up flavours and juices and the honey that makes it all sticky is a wonderful addition to make it a fun and messy dish for standing in the garden and watching bonfires… or eating with mash of course!
to feed 4 (or 2 hungry people)
- 6 chicken thighs- skin on and bone in
- 1 large white onion – peeled and roughly chopped
- 2 sticks (or 1 third of a bunch, cut from the top) of celery – roughly chopped
- 5 cloves of garlic – un-peeled and un-chopped
- 2 large carrots – roughly chopped (I don’t peel my carrots either)
- 1 small pumpkin or squash – peeled, de-seeded and roughly chopped
- 4 or 5 baby peppers – roughly chopped
- 1 glass of white wine
- 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
- 2 tablespoons runny honey
- olive oil and seasoning and fresh herbs
pre-heat the oven to 180C – i’m using my 28cm shallow casserole dish
place all the veg into the casserole dish and sprinkle with the paprika, season well and drizzle with plenty of olive oil, then get your hands stuck in and mix it all around
lay the chicken thighs on top, season well, then pour over the white wine and drizzle with the honey
bake for 2 hours with the lid on and then remove the lid and bake for a further 30 – 40 minutes until gloriously golden and sticky
eat and of course, enjoy!