Friday, April 5, 2013

Peasant Stew

Let me just start by saying that I adore this stew. It is very delicious, can be dressed up or down, and is a good way to clean out some produce from the fridge. I think that is how we came up with the name - I always seem to make this dish when we're getting low on groceries. There are only a few items that are necessary for the stew, and the rest can be improvised. And it is a one pot meal. Which, if you haven't figured out already, is my favorite kind to make.

I've only made this stew the same way maybe twice. It loves to be adjusted to suit your tastes for the day; chicken thighs or breasts, peas and/or carrots, green beans or Lima beans, whatever! And it all tastes good. You pretty much can't go over the top with this, and as long as the basics of the recipe are covered, nearly anything you put in it will marry wonderfully with each other. 

I do highly recommend serving up some crusty baguette or sourdough bread with this in order to soak up the delectable broth - it really is that good, and not a drop should be wasted! I've suggested a few 'optional' or substitute ingredients that I've tried in the past and have worked really well. If you can't tolerate peas, or detest mushrooms, there are plenty of other goodies that can be swapped in their place.


1.5-2 lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs
2 medium red potatoes in 1/2" dice
10 oz cremini mushrooms, quartered
1 c frozen pearl onions, thawed
2 c frozen french style peas (petite pois)
1/2 c medium dry - dry sherry
6 c low sodium chicken broth
1 bay leaf
2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
2 tsp thyme
1 tbsp canola oil
1/4 c roughly chopped italian parsley (optional)


1 15 oz can cannelini beans
2 c fresh green beans, ends removed and halved
2 c peeled and sliced carrot
2 c frozen baby Lima beans, thawed
1 c French le puy green lentils
2 c sliced and well rinsed leeks 

Add the canola oil to a large dutch oven or heavy bottomed pot and heat over medium high. Pat the chicken thighs dry and season with 1 tsp of salt, 1 tsp of thyme, and 1 of pepper. Place in pot and cook till golden brown on each side (about 6-7 minutes on the first, 4-5 on the other side). Remove from pot and place on a dish to the side. 

Add the potatoes, 1 tsp salt and 1 tsp thyme to the pot. There should be plenty of oil left in the pot from the chicken, but if you find that the potatoes are sticking to the bottom, add up to 1 tbsp more. Cover and stir occasionally for 6 minutes. Remove potatoes from pot and place on top of the chicken set aside earlier. 

Add mushrooms and sherry to the pot, scraping up all the brown bits from the bottom. Once most of the sherry has evaporated, add the onions. Stir occasionally for 6 - 8 minutes. Pour in the chicken stock and add back the chicken and potatoes. Pop in the bay leaf and simmer the stew on medium low for 25 minutes.

This step is optional, but I recommend it if you will be sharing this stew with company since it makes it easier to eat. Remove the chicken with a slotted spoon and place it on a clean plate. Shred the chicken with 2 forks into large pieces, but small enough to be eaten in one bite. Add the chicken back to the pot.

Add the peas (still frozen) back to the pot and raise heat to medium. Bring to simmer uncovered and allow to perk away for 5 minutes. Add parsley and serve.

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