22 Jun 2024
Thanksgiving Treat: XO Cognac Chicken Stew
Community Expat Cookbook

Thanksgiving Treat: XO Cognac Chicken Stew


A tradition celebrated in the United States of America, the initial Thanksgiving was held for the English Pilgrims’ successful first corn harvest in November 1621. As it stemmed solely from the Native Americans’ initiative in freely teaching them this cultivation technique, then Governor William Bradford organized the three-day harvest celebration as a big thank you.

Though four men were sent on a “fowling” mission in preparation for the event, turkey was most likely not on the menu. It became a traditional staple only after Sara Josepha Hale, the poet who wrote “Mary Had A Little Lamb”, published in 1863 recipes for it with stuffing and cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie specifically as Thanksgiving feast.

This liberates us to give thanks for the joyful opportunity of celebrating the occasion in Stockholm with easily accessible chicken as the fowl of choice instead. One lovingly and scrumptiously stewed in a fragrant broth generously laced with cognac and that gets effortlessly transformed into a rich decadent sauce deservingly poured piping hot!

Absolutely fitting for chilly Thanksgiving days made even better with comfortingly toasty warm roasted potatoes and carrots tossed with blanched peas on the side as novel savoury and sweet nods to Hale’s traditional recipes for this very American occasion.



For the stew:

Extra virgin olive oil

4 chicken drumsticks

200g streaky bacon, julienned

8 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced

200g Swiss browns, thinly sliced

250 ml water

2 cubes chicken stock, crumbled

150 ml XO cognac

1½ tbsp brown sugar

3 dried bay leaves

2 sprigs fresh rosemary

4 sprigs fresh thyme

4 tsp cornstarch, dissolved in a little water

Crack black pepper

2 sprigs fresh basil


For the side of vegetables:

2 large potatoes, washed and diced into 1.5 cm sided cubes

3 large carrots, washed and diced into 1.5 cm discs

¾ cup frozen peas, thawed and blanched in boiling water


Crack black pepper

Extra virgin olive oil



For the side of vegetables:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 200OC on the roast function and brush the bottom of a baking tray with olive oil.
  2. Toss the potatoes and carrots with olive oil, salt and pepper before spreading them out on the oiled baking tray.
  3. Roast in the oven for 45 minutes.
  4. Toss the roasted root vegetables with the blanched peas.


For the stew:

  1. Over a medium flame, sauté the bacon strips in a little heated olive oil in a frying pan till they are crispy, and set them aside.
  2. Brown the chicken drumsticks on all sides in the same heated oil before setting them aside.
  3. Sauté the mushrooms and garlic in the same heated oil till they are softened and cooked through before setting them aside.
  4. Into the frying pan add water, chicken stock, sugar, cognac, bay leaves, rosemary and thyme; stirring till the stock cubes and sugar are dissolved.
  5. Add the chicken, bacon, mushrooms and garlic before bringing the frying pan’s broth to a boil.
  6. Simmer uncovered over a gentle flame for 35 minutes; turning the drumsticks every 5 minutes until they cook through. Then set the chicken aside covered.
  7. Still over a gentle flame, stir in the dissolved cornstarch to thicken the bacon and mushroom broth into a sauce; seasoning with pepper before removing the herbs.
  8. Serve individual dinner plates by spooning the sauce over 2 drumsticks and garnishing with a sprig of basil, with half the vegetables mix on the side.


Serves 2

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