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.
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.