Previously, on tastingmenu.wordpress.com –
“…When the fall and winter months arrive here in New England, I tend to adjust my cooking towards soups and stews….”
It’s been steadily getting colder this past weekend in the Boston area. I thought a chicken stew might be just the thing to beat back the cold. Over the years, my image of chicken stew has been that rich concoction one finds in really good homemade pot pies. To make the stew, I decided to use an online recipe found at http://www.saveur.com/article/Recipes/Chicken-Stew as a base guide for making my own stew.
So I got about 2 1/3 lbs of boneless skinless chicken thighs and the stew vegetables from Whole Foods, Newtonville. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get the dried ‘fines herbes’ that I wanted, so I opted to get some dried ‘herbes de provence’. As I made the chicken stew, I began with a mirepoix base of 2 parts onion, 1 part carrots, 1 part celery. My wife and I discovered that we’d forgotten to get celery whilst shopping; so I decided to substitute in celeriac (aka celery root). that we had left in the fridge. I cut up a ‘large’ yellow onion (about 12 oz) in a medium dice, and then followed that up with about 6 oz of celery (1/2″ biased dice) and about 6 oz of celeriac (small dice). To that I also decided to cut up 6 oz of peeled yukon cold (small dice). All the vegetables were set aside.
I then proceeded to cut up the chicken thighs into about 2″ square pieces and seasoned the cut up meat with about 3/4 teaspoons of 4:1 salt/pepper mix. The chicken was then seared in batches in the stew pot using rice oil and set them aside. Once all the chicken was done, I added a little more
rice oil and then sweated down onions in the same stew pot and then added 4 oz of sake to deglaze. Once that deglazing process was done, I added all the rest of the vegetables, and about 5 oz of sliced up button mushrooms. I sauteed all those vegetables for about 5 or 6 minutes and then added 1
quart of Perfect Additions chicken stock, 1 bay leaf and 1 teaspoon of the herbs de provence. I turned up the heat to bring the ingredients to a boil, added in the seared chickem and waited for the stew to return a boil. Once the stew returned to a boil, I lowered the heat to about 30% max, covered it and let it simmer for about an hour.
About 10 minutes before the stew was down, I tasted and added in 1 more teaspoon of salt to try and correct the seasoning. At that point I was ready to thicken the stew. I measured out a level 1/4 cup of all purpose baking flour and began dusting it bit by bit into the stew (stirring to incorporate, each time). The techinque of dusting the flour bit by bit into the stew is not unlike a pâtissière taking a metal strainer, filling it with dusting item (in this case, flour) and tapping the strainer over the item
you want to be dusted. This helps to avoid the flour from clumping when you are trying to thicken the stew. I brought the item up to a boil one last time, turned off the heat and removed the stew from the heat.
My wife loved the dish, never having had something like this before. I commented that I thought I might want to add more flour to thicken the stew more; but she said that she liked it just the way it was. The only other change I might make would to be add just a tiny bit more salt. For my wife I served her stew over fresh fettucini that I got at the store; we both shared a crusty baguette for the meal.