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Recipes and Stories

3 November 2020: Election Day and Autumn Stew

Slow Cooker Chicken and Vegetable Stew

3 November 2020: Election Day and Autumn Stew

 

Savannah is meeting this election day bathed in crisp autumnal sunlight and, at long last, brisk, seasonal temperatures. It's perfect weather for getting out to do our civic duty.

 

It's also a perfect day for making a hearty stew. Once they're assembled, they need very little attention, especially if you have a slow-cooker, and are perfect for election day, since they're very forgiving of being left to simmer should your polling place be extra busy and/or the social-distancing precautions make the process last a bit longer than expected.

 

For most of us, "hearty stew" conjures images of red meat and rich gravy, but it doesn't have to be. This handsome chicken stew has all the flavor and heart-warming body of those hefty meat stews without being heavy on fat. And it's so easy to put together. Although there's an extra step in browning the chicken before it goes into the cooker, that only adds a few extra minutes and one extra pan to clean. But what it adds in flavor makes the extra bit of work well worth it.

 

Chicken and Vegetable Stew

 

The presently popular boned and skinned breasts and thighs never have as much flavor as whole chicken, but this stew gets the most from them, is less messy to eat, and, if you're worrying about such things, leaner.

 

You'll need a 3½-quart slow cooker.

 

Serves 4-6

 

2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts or 1 pound with 1 pound boneless, skinned chicken thighs

Salt, whole black pepper in a mill

2-3 tablespoons canola, olive, or other vegetable oil

½ cup dry white wine or extra-dry white vermouth

2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves or 1 teaspoon dried

2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage or 1 teaspoon crumbled dried

1 large yellow onion, peeled and diced large

1 14-ounce can diced fire-roasted tomatoes

3 medium ribs celery, washed, strung, and cut in 1-inch lengths

5 medium carrots, washed, peeled, and cut in 1-inch lengths

3 large red-skinned or gold potatoes, scrubbed and cut in 1-inch cubes

1 cup chicken broth

½ cup chopped fresh parsley

 

1. Trim and cut the chicken into 1-1½-inch cubes, pat dry with paper towels, and season with salt and pepper. Film a heavy skillet with oil and warm it over medium heat. Add the chicken and brown it on all sides, then transfer it to the slow cooker. Deglaze the skillet with wine and pour it over the chicken.

 

2. Sprinkle with half the herbs and all the garlic. Scatter the onion over the top and add the tomatoes. Put the carrots and celery around edges and scatter the potatoes over the top center.  Add the broth and sprinkle the remaining herbs over all and season lightly with salt and pepper.

 

3. Cover and cook on high 1 hour, then low for 5-6 hours or cook the entire time on high for 4-5 hours or on low 8-9 hours, or until the chicken and vegetables are all tender.

 

4. Serve the stew in heated rimmed soup bowls or pasta bowls, sprinkled with parsley, offering crusty bread for sopping on the side.

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1 October 2020: Bourbon Pecan Squares

Bourbon Pecan Squares

 

Autumn has always been my favorite time of year. While it's often depicted as an ending—as the quickening of summer fades and winter's long nap looms—for me, it feels more like a beginning, a time of hope and fresh starts. And this year, we need that sense of hope, of new beginnings more than ever before.

 

But aside from that, one of the things I love best about the season is that it's such a perfect time for cooking. The warmth of the kitchen not only becomes bearable, but welcome, and the raw materials we have to work with is at its most varied and best. Everything has fattened itself up for the dormant cold season ahead—and I don't mean just animals like us. Even the fruits and vegetables of fall have a density and richness that spring and summer produce often lacks.

 

This is also the time of year that I bake more. Read More 

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14 September 2018: Old Friends, Mentors, and Sautéed Apples in Bourbon Caramel

Sautéed Apples in Bourbon Caramel Sauce

One blustery late autumn evening, Timothy and I had gone up to Charleston to sing in a choir for a special evensong and were staying, as we do whenever we can, with my lovely friend, mentor, and adopted big sister, Nathalie Dupree and her husband Jack Bass.

Our “pay” for singing was a dinner that, to Timothy’s disappointment, did not include dessert. When we got back to the house and had settled in at the kitchen table, Nathalie, who is a text book example of the maxim that Southerners are always talking about food, wanted to know all about where we’d eaten and what we’d had. Read More 

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1 November 2014 Stuffed Zucchini in Autumn

Mama's Stuffed Zucchini with Ham, photography by John Carrington

This All-Hallows Day blew into Savannah on wintry winds, bringing with it temperatures in the thirties that have put the final cap onto our lingering post-summer summer.

For those who live in more moderate climates, the Deep South’s summer, especially in our sub-tropical corner, always lingers past September and sometimes even October. That means that while other parts of the country have long since gathered the last of summer’s harvest and prepared the garden for winter, ours are often still producing tomatoes, zucchini, peppers, and even eggplants.

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13 October 2014: American Chili, Southern Style

My Southern-style chili, gussied up just a little with sliced chilies, sour cream, and grated cheddar. Photography by the incomparable John Carrington

Last week Savannah had its first real taste of autumn weather with about three days of cool temperatures, low humidity, and clear skies. It was finally, magically, chili weather, an opportunity not to be missed: my first batch of the season was soon simmering away in my well-used Le Creuset enameled iron round oven. Read More 

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6 October 2014: Remembering Daisy Redman and Chicken Madeira

Daisy Redman's famous Chicken Madeira, photographed by John Carrington in the dining room of Savannah's historic Battersby-Hartridge House, where Mrs. Redman's cooking frequently graced the table.

At the end of the 1970s, DuBose Publishing Company of Atlanta released a slim little volume called Four Great Southern Cooks. Despite its unassuming appearance, this book was destined to become one of the great treasures of traditional Southern cooks and food historians. Tattered copies that survive are fiercely guarded as family heirlooms, especially here in Savannah. Read More 

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23 September 2014: Welcoming Autumn

Shrimp Stew with Bacon and Tomatoes, the perfect warm-up for welcoming Autumn in Savannah. Photography by Rich Burkhart

It doesn’t often happen, but the first day of autumn was met here in Savannah with a hint of genuine coolness in the air. It’s not quite chili, pot roast, and hearty stew weather, but the suggestion that it is on the way is an unexpected gift that’s not to be ignored. Read More 

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26 September 2013: A French Apple Tart

A Free-Form Apple Tart is a simple pastry to master, but it never fails to impress.
For those on my Facebook author’s page who asked for the recipe, here’s the free-form apple tart that’s pictured there. This was the first apple pie I ever made after I was grown and had my own kitchen. It’s from the first Julia Child cookbook I owned, From Julia Child’s Kitchen (1975), and it has been my standard apple pie ever since. Read More 
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