February 7, 2012

Chicken Stew

It's not easy to eat healthy. At least not for me. In the winter, especially, I crave hearty food. But hearty doesn't always go hand in hand with healthy.

Fortunately, that's not true of this stew, which is both hearty and healthy. It's full of chicken and veggies. And though it tastes and feels rich, it doesn't contain any cream or butter.

I experimented with the original recipe, eliminating the chicken skin and replacing the butter with olive oil. The richness comes from a roux, along with only a quarter cup of whole milk.

The original recipe calls for dumplings, which are delicious. But with their chicken fat and whole milk, you can throw the whole idea of healthy out the window.

Instead, I like to serve the stew over rice. It's also good with French bread.

Prep veggies.

Season chicken with salt and pepper and lightly brown on both sides.

Sauté veggies until softened.

Add flour to veggies. Sauté until flour is golden brown and no longer smells raw.

Add sherry and allow it to bubble for a minute until it evaporates.

Add the chicken broth, milk, thyme, and bay leaves.

Add back the chicken and reserved juices, arranging the chicken so that the pieces are submerged as much as possible. Simmer for an hour.

When the chicken is cooked and tender, remove it from the pot and shred it. You can shred it with two forks or your fingers.

Add the shredded chicken back to the pot along with some frozen peas. Simmer until heated through and taste for salt and pepper.

Serve with rice, crusty bread, or whatever else appeals!

Chicken Stew

Adapted from a recipe from The America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook

2 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs
4 Tbsp olive oil, divided
4 carrots, peeled and sliced 1/4 inch thick
2 ribs celery, sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 onion, minced
6 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1/4 cup dry sherry
4 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup whole milk
1 tsp minced fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
1 cup frozen peas

1.      Season chicken with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat until just smoking. Add half of the chicken and cook until golden on both sides, about 5 minutes total. Remove chicken from pot. Repeat with remaining chicken.

2.      Add remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil to the Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the carrots, celery, onion, and 1/4 teaspoon salt and cook until vegetables are softened, about 7 minutes.

3.      Stir in the flour and stir for a minute or so, until it no longer smells raw.

4.      Whisk in the sherry, scraping up any browned bits. Stir in the broth, milk, thyme and bay leaves.

5.      Nestle the chicken, with any accumulated juices, into the pot. Cover and cook until the chicken is fully cooked and tender, about 1 hour.

6.      Transfer the chicken to a cutting board. Discard the bay leaves. Shred the chicken, then return the meat to the stew. Stir in the peas and heat for an additional 5 minutes, until the stew is heated through. Taste and adjust salt and pepper.

Serves 6 to 8

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