Easy Chicken Stew

We’re baaaaaaaaack!  There’s just nothing wrong with a month-long honeymoon exploring the wonder that is British Columbia.  Eventually, I have a post planned on all the various wonderful places we ate in BC, but for now, I am totally thrilled to be back in my kitchen.

I really did miss cooking.  Although we did rent a few places with full kitchens in our travels, there was just never time for real cooking in between the hiking, drinking, kayaking, partying, biking, drinking and well… romancing.  It is a joy to be back in my own kitchen, with my knives, my green cutting board, my favorite wooden spatula.  Since I’m still transitioning back to reality, however, and back to the East Coast timezone, I wanted to make something ‘real’ (more than pasta & sauce or PB&J) but nothing too complicated (no Rose Levy Beranbaum tonight!).  I turned to an oldie-but-goodie, a chicken stew from For Goodness’ Sake, a “healthy” low-fat cookbook from the early 90’s.

There is something profoundly satisfying about putting together this simple stew with ingredients I “put up” over the summer.  My own fire-roasted tomatoes, containing at least a few from my garden; frozen sweet corn, boiled and cut off the cob in August; kale and chard, blanched and frozen in the hectic flurry of activity just before we left in September; dried ground local chile powder; tomato paste that I made from a surfeit of tomatoes last summer, even chicken stock from some meal or other this summer.  Even if you did not spend the summer stocking up on local produce, this is an easy stew to toss together.  Like all stews, it improves with a long, slow coooking time, but the active time is minimal, the ingredients are readily available, and the end product is warm & satisfying.  Just the thing to welcome us home!

Adapted from Southern Chicken Stew, in For Goodness’ Sake, by Terry Joyce Blonder

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Easy Chicken Stew

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 tbsp olive or canola oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 generous lb potatoes, scrubbed and chopped to 1/2-inch dice (sweet potatoes work nicely as well)
  • 1 pint canned tomatoes (I used fire-roasted, home canned heirloom tomatoes)
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup cooked garbanzo beans, rinsed
  • 1 cup corn kernels (frozen is fine)
  • 2 boneless chicken breasts, chopped into 1-inch chunks, about 1 – 1 and 1/2 lbs
  • 8 oz kale or chard, frozen, chopped into 1/2-inch squares
  • 1 tbsp molasses
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp chile powder
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste (optional)
  • rice, for serving

METHODS

  1. Heat the oil in a medium stockpot until shimmering.  Add onion, reduce heat and cook, stirring, until onion softens and just begins to brown.  Add tomatoes, with juice, stock and chopped potatoes.  Stir, breaking up any large chunks of tomato, and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes begin to soften, about 7-10 minutes.
  2. Add garbanzo beans, chicken and corn and simmer, covered, until the chicken is cooked through, about 10 minutes.
  3. Add the kale, molasses, salt, black and chile pepper and simmer over low heat, partially covered, for at least 20 minutes, and up to 3 hours. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking to the bottom of the stockpot.  If you will not be able to cook the stew for very long, add tomato paste to thicken the stew before serving.
  4. Serve hot over rice (or couscous, orzo, croutons, bread, etc.).

OPTIONS

  1. The original stew calls for lima beans in place of garbanzo, and does not include kale or chard. I also increase the amount of chile powder from 1/8th teaspoon.
  2. This is a basic stew recipe that can be modified to whatever flavor you are in the mood for; add curry, add spicy Vietnamese chili sauce, add lots of garlic & oregano.  Use your imagination or clean out the larder – this stew will adapt.
  3. You can make this dish completely local by eliminating the garbanzo beans (or sourcing local beans from Cayuga Pure Organics), substituting local honey for molasses, and serving over a local starch instead of rice.  Also, try sauteeing the onions in stock over low heat instead of olive oil.

STORE

Like all stews, this will be better served the next day.  It will keep in the fridge for about 5 days.

SEASON

Year-round, but ideally this is made when fresh produce is limited, late Fall through early Spring.

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