Saturday, March 13, 2010

A Hearty Chicken Stew

I know it's been a while since I've written here...
I've cooked plenty, but between the time my camera was stolen and got replaced, I didn't take any pictures.

I've made do, however, with some cooking here and there though!!

Up today is a really easy, hearty stew. It's a rainy day- and I don't know about you, but on these kinds of days I want comfort foods that fill me up and make me feel better.
It's not something more elaborate, since my back's bothering me quite badly. (I've made the decision to have surgery to correct the problem, but that story can be found another day perhaps) We're here to talk FOOD!

Well, on days like this where it's difficult for me to be on my feet... Cooking has to be easy. Something I can either create and eat quickly, or let sit and cook and not require me to be standing right there watching, stirring, draining, etc.
What allows you to get away simply?
Well... You can either whip up a Peanut Butter & Jelly sandwich... OR...
Use a crock pot! One of the best inventions ever, I swear!
I have the one pictured below, and I love love love it.

Click the image to see more info and pricing from Hamilton Beach.

Ingredients are simple, and most likely things you already have in your pantry and fridge.

2-3 Boneless Chicken Breasts
* Can be made with 1 bouillon cube per cup of water
3-5 Cups Chicken stock
4 Large Potatoes
2 Medium Onions
Few Stalks of Celery (I didn't use it this time- not in my fridge!!)
2 Handfuls Baby Carrots
1 Cup Green Beans (optional)
1 Cup Corn Kernels
** I cheated today... I used frozen corn, carrots, peas & green beans mix
1 Cup Sweet Baby Peas
Garlic Powder- to taste
Cracked Black Pepper- to taste
2 tsp Celery Salt
3-6 Tbs White Flour (depending on how thick you want your stew)

Start off with 3 cups of chicken broth in the stock pot, turn on to high.

Half the onions, cut each section in quarters lengthwise, and then turn and cut in half. You should have "8" sections of onions from each half. These will cook down and not be quite so large- however, if you would like them smaller you certainly can chop them. After cutting each veggie, toss right into your crock.

Peel the potatoes, and cut into pieces that will fit on a spoon. You don't want them too small- they'll overcook and get mushy, or too large- they won't cook through. If you keep in mind how big the piece will be when scooped up out of the stew, this is a good indication of how big it you want the pieces to be.

If using baby carrots, toss them in whole. Regular carrots would need to be peeled and cut into about 2" pieces. Celery- same thing! In goes green beans and corn too- they need to cook and get that wonderful flavor to soak through in there!

Trim the chicken of extra fat and ligaments. I know not everyone likes to trim chicken- it's quite gross. But, if you don't want to, you don't have to. It just removes the little bit of "extra" fat that doesn't get removed. The ligaments don't always cook down or become tender- you know what I'm talking about. Those pieces that you try to chew through but can't... You're welcome for that visual! That's what the ligament is. So be kind to your stew and those that will consume it, and trim you chicken breasts!

**Tip: Chicken is easier to cut when partially frozen.
Trim the meat first, and pop into freezer for about 20 min.
Remove, and slice away!

Cube the chicken into about 1.5" pieces. You want these pieces a little smaller than the potatoes, so they can pick up the other veggies without any problems. Toss into crock pot with garlic powder, black pepper and celery salt. You may add other spices per your taste- a bay leaf, sea salt, celery seed, etc.

Cook on high for 2 hours, then turn down to low for another 3-4 hours. Add flour, and stir occasionally.

When stew is thickened up and chicken is thoroughly cooked, add the sweet peas (if they're fresh) and cook for an additional 20 minutes to soften. If they're already frozen, they're cooked! To serve, spoon into bowls and enjoy with some fresh baked and buttered rolls!

How's that for ultimate comfort food?!

I promise, when mine is finished cooking.... I'll post a picture!

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