Winter cocotte

I was so delighted to see all the carrots with character at the market on Saturday. All the deep shades and smells inspired me to make a hearty dish filled with warmth. So I picked a few purple and yellow carrots, parsnip for its sweetness, a small pumpkin for the fleshiness, topinambours for the unbelievable nutty after-taste, a fine match with chestnuts. All the ‘best of‘ the season gathered in one dish. I rushed over to my butcher, ordered one slice of poitrine fumée. I get such satisfaction from details, like a perfect slice of bacon, proudly shown to you on a sheet of white paper. I also knew that it was going to dramatically change my dish, turning it into a richly flavoured burgundy colored winter’s stew. It’s amazing what a little piece of meat can do.

Ingredients: (serves 4)

15 chestnuts (peeled and cooked)
1 small pumpkin (peeled, deseeded & cut into small slices – I used the ‘mini’ pumpkins )
2 carrots (diced)
1 parsnip (diced)
1 celery branch (sliced)
4 small topinambours/ Jerusalem artichokes (sliced finely in ‘rondelles’)
1 garlic clove (sliced finely)
1 onion (sliced finely)
150 g/ 1/3 pound slice of bacon (whole or diced)
2 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp red wine
80 ml/ 1/3 cup chicken or vegetable stock
1-2 tbsp butter
A small handful of fresh chives (finely chopped)
A small handful of parsley (finely chopped)
Salt & pepper for seasoning

In a medium-sized cocotte/ pot, heat olive oil (on a medium heat) and fry the onion until tender, about 3 minutes. Add the bacon and fry for another 4-5 minutes. (Note: If you are using poitrine fumée/ smoked slab bacon like I did, I would suggest to blanch the meat in boiling water for a few minutes before frying). Add all the carrots, topinambours, celery, parsnip, garlic, squash, chestnuts and stir until the vegetables get coated. Season with salt and pepper. After 5 minutes add the red wine, reduce for 2 minutes, then add the chicken or vegetable stock. Cover and reduce heat to low. Cook for 20-25 minutes. The vegetables shouldn’t be overcooked as it is nice to keep everything on the crunchier side. When ready to serve, add butter, chopped chives and parsley. (For those who like a little extra taste, you can drizzle a hint of vinaigrette (2 tbsp olive oil, 1 tsp mustard, 1 tsp wine vinegar, salt & pepper – mix well).

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