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Skint Suppers Vol. Two: Saffron Chicken Stew

I appreciate the irony of including the world's most expensive spice as the key ingredient in today's Skint Suppers, but in my defence it was a store cupboard find and I got it very cheap in Lidl. I love Lidl and have no shame in saying so. The other ingredients for this recipe are far more budget friendly, and cooking this in large quantities does mean that a little saffron goes a long way. Using chicken on the bone is the trick to this dish, and the bigger cuts you can find the better - it will make it both cheaper and tastier. I find a lot of joy in getting my slow cooker out to start making huge batches of warming, gently nourishing goodness around this time of year and it makes for a very leisurely evening to be able to come home from work and find your dinner already made sitting there waiting for you, so this recipe is a big favourite of mine. It is very versatile, so you can have anything from an olive oil mash, fragrant rice, or even my 'fauxtatoes' to accompany this, but the middle eastern flavours really call out for something more fitting, so I tend to serve this with a lemon and mint couscous and some tahini roasted root veg. Here it is:

Saffron Chicken Stew with Couscous

Serves a lot of people depending on the amount of chicken

Mine was approx £1 per head

About 400 cals with small portion couscous


Lots of chicken portions, or use a whole bird. I used about 1kg of large chicken legs (not drumsticks) and this made five or six portions

300g green olives

2 carrots, chopped

Large onion, roughly chopped

3 cloves garlic, crushed

Pinch of saffron

Sprinkle of ground cumin

Chicken stock to cover

150ml white wine

Drizzle of runny honey


Handful of fresh mint

Dash of lemon juice


Get a large frying pan very very hot and add a small amount of fat (I used a few sprays of Fry Light one cal spray) to brown the chicken pieces all over for a few minutes. I feel rather silly writing this method because now the next step is essentially to throw everything bar the last three ingredients into your slow cooker, using the stock to just cover the chicken. Timings are tricky on this one and hopefully you will know your slow cooker better than I do. I used to have a great slow cooker which was an 80's hand me down from my mum and you could reliably put anything in it for vast swathes of time knowing that it would emerge moist, succulent and delicious ready for dinner. I now have a massive swanky Cuisinart slow cooker and I find it is more hit and miss as it cooks the food much more quickly, so with something like chicken which can get nasty and stringy if overcooked in liquid, you would need to be more careful. To be on the safe side if you're preparing this in the morning before work, then I'd put it on the lowest setting all day to be ready for evening.

To serve, soak the couscous in any remaining chicken stock or even some of the liquor from the stew and stir in plenty of finely chopped mint and a good few squeezes of lemon juice.

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