Struggle Food: Spiced Chicken With Apple and Tomato

I have yet to come up with a name for this dish, but I’ve titled the post ‘struggle food’ after reading a thread on a certain notorious forum that had members discussing food that their families or themselves cooked in times where money was exceptionally tight, and it inspired me to be more creative, as a) I’m having to at the moment, and b) I desperately need some new content up in here.

Bit like playing Ready, Steady, Cook, I suppose.

This recipe began life as Nigella Lawson’s Pollo alla Cacciatore from Express, but I merely just used the instructions as my bass line whilst rummaging around my cupboards to see what I could concoct for some freezer-burned chicken thighs. (I think only the chicken, canned tomatoes, and use of canned beans to make it a one-pot meal remain from the original recipe!) This was the result.

Adding apple to any meat braise is very 1960s school dinners I know but it worked well here. Plus I’m a huge fan of meat with fruit (a-la Moroccan cooking).



It’s a curious amalgam of various cultures….I genuinely don’t know what to call it, I found ‘chicken and apple stew’ sounded somewhat unappetising, and ‘chicken surprise’ to just be frankly terrible. So I’ve just called it ‘ spiced chicken with apple and tomato’ which really doens’t sound that bad, actually..

Anyway, try it yourself and see what you think.

Spiced Chicken With Apple and Tomato



1-2 tbsp oil

1 garlic clove

2 skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into cubes

1 gala apple, skin left on, cubed

‘Steak seasoning’, generous few shakes (approx 1/2 tbsp)

1.5 tsp Aleppo pepper

1/2 tsp mixed herbs

2 tsp wholegrain mustard, mixed with juice 1/2 lemon and splash water to make a slurry, approx 60ml

1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes

2 bay leaves

1.5 tsp sugar

1 x 400g tin red kidney beans, drained and rinsed.

  1. Put oil into a saucepan, and grate the garlic into it BEFORE turning on the heat (it stops it from burning straight away) to medium.
  2. Coat the chicken pieces in the steak seasoning.
  3. When garlic is sizzling and starting to turn golden, add the chicken to the pan, along with 1 tsp of the Aleppo pepper, and season with salt and pepper. Cook until the chicken is ‘sealed’.
  4. Add the mustard slurry and cook for 1-2 minutes, before adding the chopped apple and stir to coat with this aromatic sludge, and cook for 1-2 minutes more.
  5. Tip in the tomatoes, rinsing the tin out with roughly 60ml water, before adding the bay leaves, mixed herbs and sugar, season again if desired.
  6. Clamp on a lid and simmer for 20 minutes, until chicken is tender. Apple pieces should still be keeping their shape.
  7. Drain and rinse the kidney beans, if using, and add to the pan about 10 minutes before the end of cooking. When they have warmed through, you are ready to eat.

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