When the nights draw in and the temperatures fall, there’s nothing better than a bowl of something hot and slow-cooked to console the departure of summer.
I made this chicken hotpot when it was particularly blustery and cold outside and I am pretty sure we’ll do it again very soon. We’re all creatures of habit and we often stick to the same stew recipes. The difference here is the beautiful crispy potato topping and tender chicken thighs.
Of course, this recipe is inspired by the Lancashire hotpot. It’s traditionally made with lamb or mutton on the bone and layered with sliced onions and potato and slow-cooked. Before the industrial revolution, many people in rural England worked from dawn until dusk and didn’t have time to watch over their supper whilst it cooked. It also meant that family members could eat it as they pleased as they came home from the fields. This makes it perfect for busy modern-day life. You can, of course, cook this in the slow cooker – just put it all in the slow cooker as below, switch it on in the morning before you go to work, and bake in the oven to crisp the potatoes for half an hour in the evening.
This hotpot is made with chicken thighs as it’s a little cheaper and healthier for a weeknight staple, but still hearty and delicious. Serve it on its own or with some steamed leafy greens.
The secret here is to build the layers of flavour with seasoning. Season the chicken before browning off, and the veg, and the potatoes, warm the herbs in the oil first… it’ll make a huge difference in flavour and you’ll end up using less salt.
To serve 4-6 people, you’ll need:
- 6 higher-welfare chicken thighs on the bone
- 2 medium-sized onions. (I used one of our home-grown onions for this and they are enormous)
- 6 large white potatoes
- 4 large carrots, peeled and chopped roughly
- 1 stick of celery
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 sprig of thyme
- 1 sprig of rosemary
- 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- 500ml of good quality low-salt chicken stock (you can use a stock cube for this if not)
- 1 tbsp of tomato purée
- 2 tbsp of cornflower
- Salt and pepper
- With a food processor, mandolin or good-old-fashioned knife, finely slice the potatoes. No need to peel! Then sit the slices in a bowl of cold salted water to wash away some of the starch until you need them (or you’ll be left with mashy potatoes when you cook them in the stew).
- Grab a large heavy casserole dish and put it on the stove on a high heat with some olive oil heating up. Season the chicken both sides well (you can take the skin off at this point if you want to make it a bit lighter). Add the herbs to the dish infuse in the oil then add the chicken thighs 2 at a time, skin-side down and brown off well. Once you’ve browned off all the chicken thighs, set them aside on a plate and brown off the carrots, onion, and celery, making sure to season these as well with a pinch of salt, then remove and set aside.
- In 500ml of hot or cold stock, add the minced garlic and tomato puree. Make a slurry with 2 tbsps of cornflower and cold water, mix it well with your finger until the cornflower and the water completely mixes into the water and add to the stock mixture, stirring well.
- Assemble a third of the sliced potatoes in the bottom of the casserole dish you’ve just used, and layer with 3 of the chicken thighs, some of the veg and herbs, then potatoes. Repeat again, and add the final layer of potatoes. Then pour over the stock mixture. Pop some butter on top of the potatoes with salt and pepper.
- Put the lid on and bake in the oven for an hour and a half on 150 degrees Celsius, or 302 degrees Fahrenheit, then remove the lid, turn the oven up to high and bake for half an hour to crisp the potatoes.
Serve with some lovely steamed greens. Fight over the crispy potatoes.
Don’t forget to save this recipe to your Pinterest Board for later: