With fall finally showing its colors here in Texas the desire for slow cooked comfort foods moves more to the front of my mind. Even though I happily braise foods all year long, it’s a lot easier to do so when there is no need to turn the A.C. down to ridiculous levels to keep the house cool, and the aroma of long simmering herbs warms the heart when stepping in from a brisk evening.
This weekend brought the first sniffles of the season as well, so a hearty chicken stew just seemed to be the perfect choice for house full of slightly-under-the-weather adults and one teething toddler. (He didn’t like the stew, but hey, I tried) Warm, rich and hearty from beginning to end, with leftovers enough for the next few days, at least for a party of two. For a larger family this will easily make a full meal.
- 2 lbs chicken pieces
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 carrots, chopped
- 4 celery stalks, chopped
- 4-6 cups water (will vary depending on pot used)
- 5-7 potatoes, cut into bite sized pieces. (I used a variety of potatoes, just for textural differences.)
- 1 14 oz. can chicken stock or chicken broth
- 1 14 oz. can vegetable stock
- 1 tbsp dried rosemary
- 1 tbs dried thyme
- 1 tbsp crushed red chili flakes
- 3 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
- 2 tbsp corn starch
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Heat a large dutch oven or stock pot and olive oil over medium heat. Season chicken pieces liberally on all sides with salt and pepper. Place in pot skin side down and sauté for 8 minutes. Turn chicken when fluids puddle generously on meat side and skin no longer sticks to bottom of pot. Sauté an additional 8-10 minutes and remove chicken to a plate or large bowl to cool.
- Add onion, 1/2 of the celery and 1/2 of the carrot to pot with a pinch of salt, stirring often, until onions are translucent and vegetables have softened. Add chicken stock, vegetable stock and vinegar, scraping bottom of pan well to release all “sticky bits”. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer until 3/4 of mixture has evaporated. (Reduce by 2/3).
- While stock is reducing, pull meat from chicken, discarding skin and bones. (Or you can eat the skin… I usually eat half and feed the other half to the dog…) Place chicken meat back in bowl or on plate with whatever juices collected.
- Add chicken meat and juices to pot with reduced stock. Add enough water to cover by 1 inch and return to a simmer. Add rosemary, thyme, chili flakes, remaining celery and remaining carrots. Cover and let simmer for 20 minutes.
- Add potatoes and enough water to cover if necessary. Cover and simmer an additional 20 minutes or until potatoes are fork tender.
- Mix cornstarch and Worcestershire sauce together in a separate bowl. The consistency should be just pourable, if not add more sauce until it is. Add mixture to soup pot and increase temperature to high and boil, uncovered for 1-2 minutes.
- Reduce heat to low and test for seasoning, re-season if necessary, allowing 1-2 minutes between tastings. Serve hot.
What I would have done differently had I thought of it at the time:
I’m really not sure. This was perfectly delicious and filling. Very satisfying indeed now that the mornings are in the 30’s and 40’s, and the evenings are in the 50’s. I think perhaps using a roux as a base might have given the stew a little more flavor, and using just a bit more chicken so that it didn’t all completely disintegrate in the pot would have been nice as well, but then I personally like it when there’s just a hint of chicken in every spoonfull. It reminds me of my mom’s chicken and dumplings from when I was kid.
Any way you look at it, this is comfort food, and I’ll make it again before the winter is over.