It’s the new year, and I have a few goals to accomplish – none of which are impossible, nor difficult. I’m going to grow a container garden, try making more foods by hand (like cheese), and get back to exercising.
I’ve found the hardest part about getting started is, well, starting. I was all set to hit the pavement with my iPhone and C25K app this weekend (yes, starting back at the beginning with W1D1), but then we had some snow blow in, followed by an ice storm.
Ice and snow make it not so easy to hit the pavement. I even told two friends I wished I had a dreadmill, even though most runners hate them. While I prefer running outside in my neighborhood, or in downtown Frederick, I would love the ability to run indoors on a treadmill if the weather wasn’t cooperating. I’m saving my pennies; one day I’ll have a treadmill. Mark my words.
Running is my favorite exercise. I love the simplicity of it. Shoes, running clothes and music. No gym membership, no classes – just the streets.
But since I couldn’t get out and start running, I decided to cook an all-day meal. That’s a logical alternative, right?
(Cut me some slack.)
A foodie friend of mine and fellow Ina Garten fan was talking the other day about a recipe he tried from Ina’s arsenal.
Tell me you’ve tried Ina’s chicken stew with biscuits. You HAVE to try her chicken stew.
Well, I hadn’t.
Omigod, Liza. It’s SO good. You must make it.
It doesn’t take much convincing for me to try a new recipe, especially from a friend who loves food and cooking as much as I do. I looked it up, and sure enough I had most of the ingredients on hand already.
But, being that it was a Saturday, and we had absolutely nothing to do (which included me not running), I decided to make a tweak. I decided that I’d try and make the chicken stew in my slow cooker.
Not all ideas are perfect.
Good news is, I enjoy a challenge.
After four hours in the slow cooker on high, the chicken came out tender and falling off the bone. THAT was what I intended.
I used the chicken I had in my freezer, which ended up being 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts and 4 bone-in chicken thighs. I also used 2 cups of my overnight slow cooker chicken stock and 2 diced onions. All of this simmered together for 4 hours; the scent throughout the house was knock-you-over good.
Even though the chicken practically fell apart from tenderness, I was still able to roughly dice it into large chunks.
Then I had to stop.
The problem was that Ina’s recipe called for a bechamel base to the stew that is then incorporated with more chicken stock and followed by being baked in the oven with homemade biscuits on top.
I don’t claim to be a whiz with my slow cooker. I’m a hair more than mediocre, I’d say. I’m an average slow cooker user.
I couldn’t decide how in the world to translate the next steps of the recipe into something equally delicious cooked anywhere but stove-top and in the oven.
So I bailed on my slow cooker, and I brought out my trusty Dutch oven.
I let the stew simmer for a while on the stove, and boy did it smell good. I loved the colors in Ina’s chicken stew, but my husband hates peas in any type of stew or soup (or really in anything EVER), so instead I used some green onions I had in the fridge. This actually worked out well because I didn’t have pearl onions like Ina uses in her recipe.
I love it when a plan comes together.
Then there’s the cream. I love cream. I prefer cream in recipes when it’s called for. I didn’t have cream on hand, so my chicken stew uses whole milk. I want to reiterate that I would have used cream if I’d have had it on hand. I’m not one to skimp on the milk fat, people!
The last step was to pour the chicken stew into a baking dish, and then after about 15 minutes in the oven, top it with homemade biscuits that cook right on top.
No. I didn’t use saffron in the recipe. The yellow is the horrid look of a picture that I’ve tried to correct via PicMonkey after taking the photo at night without proper studio lighting. I’m embarrassed to be sharing it. Close your eyes and pretend it’s actually been taken with beautiful natural light, mmmmmmkay? Thanks.
The flavor though? UH-may-zing. Just what you’d expect from lots of butter, whole milk, chicken that’s been slowly cooked all day. I could go on. The leftovers will be devoured this week at work.
I think it’s time for a jog.
- 2 boneless/skinless chicken breasts
- 4 bone-in chicken thighs (skin removed)
- 3 large onions, diced
- 4 cups chicken stock
- 3 teaspoons salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 tablespoon dried Italian seasoning
- 2 sticks salted butter
- 2 cups + ½ cup all-purpose flour
- ¾ + ¼ cup whole milk
- 1 cup diced carrots
- ¼ cup freshly chopped Italian parsley
- 2 green onions, diced
- ½ cup freshly chopped Italian parsley
- 1 egg mixed with 1 tablespoon of water
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
- Put ⅔ of the chopped large onions into the bottom of your slow cooker. Place the chicken in one layer on top, season with 1 teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon pepper and the Italian seasoning. Pour 2 cups of chicken stop over top. Cook for 4 hours on high.
- Remove the chicken from the slow cooker and let it cool for 30 minutes. Remove the bones and discard them. Give the meat a rough chop so that you end up with large cubes of chicken. Set it aside.
- Preheat the oven to 375°F.
- Melt 1 stick of butter in a Dutch oven (or heavy bottom stock pot) over medium-low heat. Pour the stock from the slow cooker and another 2 cups of chicken stock into a medium pot. Bring the chicken stock to a boil, then reduce heat to keep it simmering.
- Once the butter has melted in the Dutch oven, add the remaining ⅓ of the large onion and saute it for 10 to 15 minutes, or until it's translucent. Add ½ cup of flour and whisk the mixture together for another 2 minutes. Pour the warmed chicken stock in all at once, and continue whisking until the mixture thickens (about 2 minutes). Add 2 teaspoons of salt and ¼ cup of milk, and whisk it together. Whisk in the parsley, carrots and green onions and then stir in the chicken. Let the stew simmer for 10 minutes and then pour it into a 10x13" baking dish and bake it for 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, while the stew is baking, make the biscuits.
- Combine 2 cups of flour, baking powder, sea salt and sugar in the bowl of a mixer fit with a paddle attachment. Cut a stick of butter into small cubes and add it to the bowl. Mix the ingredients on medium speed until the butter is the size of peas. Add ¾ cup of milk and continue mixing on medium until the dough forms, and then turn the dough out onto a floured counter.
- Roll the dough out to ½" thick and use a 2-1/2" biscuit cutter (or a cup works fine too) to make 12 biscuits. Save any remaining dough in the fridge to use another time.
- Pull the chicken stew out of the oven and top it with the 12 biscuits, then put it back in the oven and continue cooking for 30 minutes or until the biscuits are golden on top and the stew is bubbly.