Chicken, Mushroom, Sweet Potato and Borlotti Bean Braise

P1150858It’s time for food in bowls. Food that whispers away on the hob and then is portioned out and enjoyed with a single piece of cutlery. Food that allows you to curl you knees up underneath you on the couch and nurse a glass of red wine. Fodder that is the consumable parable of a warm bath and nestling into flannel sheets. The below recipe, a nurturing braise of mushrooms, sweet potato, chicken, nutmeg, kale, borlotti beans and parmesan is all of those things.  If that’s what you need in your life and have no time for preambles, skip straight to the bottom (I’ve recently installed an easy print version of the recipes- I hope it works for you). If you feel like a little narrative chat, read on.

We had the last ditches of summer over the weekend. We happily accepted an invitation to dash up to one of our favourite stretches of sand in the world. I’ve prattled about its merits before.

There’s even a recipe in ‘A Suitcase and a Spatula’ dedicated to it (it’s one of my warm weather favourites- the pulled pork with Corona, pineapple and a pineapple jalapeno salsa).

Avoca beach is one of those curious places in the world which offers emotional punctuation. It’s a spot where we’ve spent some of our best (and worst) days. It’s excellent for injecting perspective. Somehow on the drive home, you always find yourself cracking open the big questions.

Beyond the classic ambles on the beach and borderless hours spent with sand between our toes we spent the weekend exploring new hipster cafes which are now lurking around most corners.

We let Will loose on the dunes, threw ourselves in the surf and were lulled to sleep thanks to the to the juddering hush of surf against shore.

And then we came home. To Sunday afternoons of towering cairns of washing and disheveled heaps of Life Administration.  To The Hungry One off on a business trip for another week, to missing car keys and torrential rain.  We came home to toddlers who itch to dance on glass topped coffee tables and hurl technology like blocks and milk that had spoiled. I have never been so grateful that there were extra portions of this stashed in the freezer. It will serve me well this week.

The beauty of this braise is about the collegial marriage of flavours. The porcini mushroom stock is a sneaky substitution for chicken which bumps up the earthiness of the button mushrooms. The sweet potatoes balance the bitterness of the kale, the beans add bulk (though you could easily leave them out)  and the nutmeg, parmesan and thyme offer  woodsey warmth. The butter, of course is optional, but sometimes a bit of extra fat is a wonderful thing, glossing everything, adding shine and depth.

P1150845This now sits alongside the braised chicken with artichokes, leeks and cannellini beans as a new midweek staple in this house. It’s comfort, ease and Autumn in a bowl. It’s warm, soldering and safe. It’s a new favourite – at least until the sparkle of summer swings past once more.

Chicken, Mushroom, Sweet Potato and Borlotti Bean Braise


Serves 4  with a large green salad on the side


1 tbsp olive oil
600 g chicken thighs, cut into pieces the size of a matchbook
250 g button mushrooms, halved
3 sprigs of thyme
7 g of porcini mushrooms, blitzed into small pieces of rubble
2 cups/ 500 ml hot water
400 g sweet potato, cut into slim coins
1 x 400 g tin of borlotti beans, rinsed
1/2 nutmeg/1/2 tsp nutmeg, grated
4 stems of Tuscan kale, shredded
30 g butter/ additional olive oil
Parmesan cheese (optional) and pepper to taste

Here’s how we roll

 1) Add the olive oil to the base of a large heavy bottomed fry pan, or dutch oven.  Brown the pieces of chicken thigh. Remove from the pan and set aside.

2) Add the mushrooms and the thyme and sautee for 5 minutes, until they begin to take on some colour.

P11508443) Combine the porcini rubble with the hot water and allow to steep for a few minutes.

4) Add the sweet potato coins and the chicken back into the pan.

P1150847 5) Pour over the porcini stock and the grated nutmeg and scrape at the bottom of the pot to collect any flavour that has stuck on during the searing process. Simmer for 25 minutes to allow the sweet potato and chicken to cook through.

6) Tumble in the borlotti beans and the butter. Stir over medium heat to combine and heat the beans.

P11508537) Add the shredded kale just prior to serving and stir over a medium heat until the kale wilts.
P1150856 7) Serve in bowls with plenty of black pepper and parmesan to taste.


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