April 8th, 2019


"Winter is Coming" - well it's here!!! Big time!!! - The short cold days of winter make you want to stay indoors with your feet up watching the flames dance in your fireplace, with the smell and aromas of something good cooking in the oven and the sound of soft music playing in the background. Why not try this easy and delicious tasting chicken casserole that takes minutes to prepare, then pop in the oven and sit back and relax knowing dinner is taken care of and the night is just beginning.

It might be a little more expensive than a processed bird from your local food store, but if you can, consider buying an organic free range chicken from your local farmer or farmers market. It will definitely be of higher quality than the salt water pumped birds you normally buy. If you're like me and care about the welfare of animals, then it makes it a lot easier to know at least they had a reasonably healthy, happy life. We don't eat a great deal of meat or poultry these days but when we do I always buy grass fed or organic free range. In theory, organic free range chickens are allowed to run around in the open, foraging for their food such as worms and insects which gives the bird a healthier ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fats.

As for as the rest of the ingredients in this casserole you have:
• Vidalia onions which contain diallyl-sulfide which increases the body's production of glutathione-S-transfease and is important for fighting off cancer enzymes.
• Garlic, which is accepted even by conventional and traditional medicine as an agent for lowering cholesterol levels in the body.
• Celery, which helps control appetite and adds digestion. Carrots, which are packed with calcium, potassium and vitamin C.
• Parsnips help with inflammation and have 5 ½ g of fiber per cup.
• Shiitake mushrooms contain a remarkable compound called lentinan which in Japan is used in cancer therapy drugs.
• Cooked tomatoes are a rich source of carotenoid lycopene of which there is mountains of promising research associated with significant reduction in prostate cancer.
• Peas which in my mind are a "real" super food, packed with nutrition, 1 cup has 97% of your daily vitamin C needs along with 45% Vitamin K, manganese 30%, thiamin 26%, vitamin A 22%, phosphorus 16%, niacin 15%, copper 13%, magnesium 12%, zinc 12%, vitamin B6 12%, iron 12%, riboflavin 11%, and potassium 10%. One cup equals only 120 calories and has nearly 8 grams of vegetable protein and over 8 grams of fiber.
Heartwarming Winter Casserole
Serves 4

2 teaspoons olive oil
1x 3lb chicken cut into 8 pieces (organic free range from your local farmer)
1 Vidalia (if you can) onion, peeled, halved, thinly sliced
1 celery stick, trimmed, cut into 1 inch thick slices
1 carrot, washed and cut into ¼ inch thick rounds
1 parsnip, washed and cut into ¼ inch rounds
3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
2 cups shiitake mushrooms, roughly chopped
2 x 15oz cans diced tomatoes (low sodium)
1 cup low sodium chicken stock
1 cup frozen peas
2 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
Freshly ground black pepper
4 cups cooked Farro, whole wheat couscous or whole wheat pasta

Preheat oven to 380'F
How to Make:
1. Take a large non-stick frying pan and add the oil, place over a medium heat and add the chicken pieces, cook for 5 minutes or until golden brown all over, then transfer to a large ovenproof casserole dish.
2. Place the pan back on the stove and add the onion and celery, cook for 5 minutes or until soft. Add the garlic along with the mushrooms and cook for a further 2 minutes. Add the canned diced tomatoes and stock, bring to the boil. Remove from the heat and pour the sauce over the chicken pieces.
3. Cover the casserole dish with foil and place in the oven for 30 to 35 minutes or until the chicken is tender and cooked all the way through. Add the peas, thyme and black pepper and cook for a further 3 to 4 minutes to heat through.
4. As the chicken is cooking, prepare the farro, couccous or pasta following the packet directions or until al dente.
5. Remove the casserole from the oven and serve with your desired side.


Chef Mark .

Copyright © 2018, 2019 Mark Allison