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Scripture in the kitchen: A recipe from Jacob

Author: Simon Bartz, 5 January 2024

There are hundreds of references to food and drink in the Bible. Some of today’s healthiest choices were enjoyed by people in the Old and New Testaments. Fish, olive oil, garlic and pomegranates were on the menu, and in the best times the land flowed with milk and honey.

God initially prescribed a plant-based diet comprised of herbs and fruit (Genesis 1.29), but after the flood he blessed Noah and his sons (9.1–3) and widened the menu considerably when he said, ‘Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you.’ Things got more complicated for the people of Israel under Moses’ leadership, but the New Testament restored freedom to our diets.

Here's a recipe straight out of Genesis, which I've translated for our contemporary kitchens.

Jacob’s red stew


One day, when Jacob was cooking some stew, Esau came home hungry and said, ‘I’m starving to death! Here and now give me some of that red stew!’ 
Genesis 25.29–30 (CEV)

When you read about Esau trading his birthright, can’t you just smell the stew cooking? This recipe comes from Jacob’s own cookbook, and although you could eat it with a certain brand of cream crackers, I recommend mashed potato or crusty bread instead. This will give you the real comfort food vibe that Esau just couldn’t resist after a tough day out in the fields.  


  • 2 chicken thighs (on bone is best) 
  • 2 chicken breasts 
  • Several small mushrooms 
  • A handful of fresh thyme 
  • 5 garlic cloves 
  • 2 carrots 
  • 1 onion 
  • ½ a bottle of red wine (or a small cup of cranberry juice for Nazirites among us, but wine is best) 
  • 3 stock cubes 
  • 1 tbsp salt (add gradually – you may not need all of it)
  • 1 bay leaf 
  • 2 tins of tomatoes 
  • A hefty shot of tomato purée (to make it redder!) 
  • Shot of red wine vinegar (optional) 
  • Shot of lemon juice (optional)


  1. Into a big bowl, put the chicken, the whole mushrooms, the thyme, each piece of garlic chopped in half, and the carrots and onion, chopped into chunky pieces. Put it all in the bowl and pour over the wine. Stick it in the fridge for several hours to marinate. 
  2. Transfer the contents from the bowl into an oven-proof dish with a lid.
  3. To the oven-proof dish, add the stock cubes in a cupful of water, the salt, bay leaf and two tins of tomatoes. Squirt in some of the tomato purée (and lemon juice and/or vinegar) and cook with the lid on for two hours on Gas Mark 3 (160° C, 140° C fan). Ensure the chicken is cooked through. You could eat it straight away but it is best to leave it overnight, as further marination will embolden the flavours. 
  4. Next day, one hour before eating, reheat it for one hour on Gas Mark 3 (160° C, 140° C fan). 
  5. If you want, thicken the sauce with some flour and add more salt if needed.

This article originally appeared in Bible Society's magazine Word in Action.

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