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    John Whaite's chicken, sage & cider stew with celeriac cobbles

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    John Whaite's chicken, sage & cider stew with celeriac cobbles

    This stew, scented with sage and sweetened with cider, is creamy and smooth and would be just fine eaten on its own with some heavily buttered bread for dipping. But the cobbles, those earthy, golden discs, are so flavoursome and welcome here. The celeriac for the cobbles is roasted underneath the chicken thighs, absorbing the meaty liquor; not a drop of liquid gold is wasted  

    • Christmas
    • Preparation time: 45 minutes
    • Cooking time: 25-30 minute

    Serves: 6 - 8


    For the Cobbles
    500g celeriac, peeled and in 1cm dice
    3 cloves garlic, unpeeled
    3 tbsp sunflower or olive oil
    250g brown self-raising flour, plus extra for dusting
    1 tsp fine sea salt
    100g crème fraîche
    1 Waitrose British Blacktail Medium Free Range Egg,  to glaze
    10 sage leaves

    For the Stew
    1kg chicken thigh fillets
    1 leek, finely sliced
    1 large carrot, finely diced
    1 celery stalk, finely sliced
    2 tbsp plain flour
    250ml dry cider
    1 litre chicken stock
    15 sage leaves, finely chopped
    25g pack parsley, roughly chopped
    150g crème fraîche


    1 Preheat the oven to 200°C, gas mark 6. Put the celeriac and garlic into a roasting tray and drizzle with 2 tablespoons oil. Season and toss together. Lay the chicken thighs on top of the celeriac and roast for 30 minutes.

    2 Meanwhile, to make the stew, heat the remaining oil in a large saucepan or flameproof casserole over a high heat. Once the oil is hot, add the leek, carrot and celery and reduce the heat to medium-high. Fry, stirring frequently, for at least 10 minutes, until the carrot and celery soften.

    3 When the vegetables are soft, add the flour and stir to coat everything well. Add the cider and increase the heat to high to bring the cider to a boil. Stirring frequently, allow the cider to boil until very thick. Add the stock and return to a boil, then simmer rapidly for about 20 minutes or until reduced by a half – it is tempting to skip this reduction, but this is where the flavour is made. Once the stew has reduced, remove from the heat and stir in the herbs and crème fraîche. Season to taste – I like to add plenty of pepper.

    4 Once roasted, remove the chicken thighs from the celeriac and dice them into 2cm cubes. Add them to the stew, along with the juices from the roasting tray. Leave the oven on.

    5 To make the cobbles, put the cooked celeriac into a mixing bowl. Squeeze the garlic, which should now be soft, into the bowl. Add the flour and 1 teaspoon salt, then add the crème fraîche and mix until it comes together to form a soft dough. Flour the worktop and pat the dough down until it’s about 2cm thick. Use a wine glass to cut out the cobbles. You should be able to get about 10, balling the dough back up and re-patting as necessary. Gently lay the cobbles on top of the stew and glaze with the beaten egg. Place a sage leaf on top of each cobble, then cook in the oven for 25-30 minutes, until the cobbles are golden brown and the stew is bubbling up around them.

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