Monday, October 5, 2009

Chicken Thigh Stew with Sweet Potatoes

Years ago when I was but a fledgling crabby cook, I was working for a major multinational computer company. Back then they hired college grads by the dozen, dumped them into an outpost on the frontier of commerce and waited to see what happened.

The result was an environment of creativity, aggressive thought and even more aggressive partying. But old college habits die hard and when Thanksgiving rolled around people assumed they could just buzz out on Tuesday and be back at their desk on Monday. Well it didn't and doesn't work that way in the real world. When a group of us realized we wouldn't be able to get home for Thanksgiving and be back at our jobs on Friday!!, we decided to have our own feast.

On paper this made all the sense in the world. Surely a group of college educated individuals could cook a turkey, mash some potatoes and whip up some gravy. Well by now you can guess that things didn't quite turn out that way. The bird had to be the greasiest thing Farmer Brown had ever created. There was a pool of fat floating atop the drippings sufficient to heat a three bedroom house for 6 months.

Lacking the utensils to skim this amount of fat we were left to our own creative devices. Somehow, in the stupor of a few glasses of wine, we fell upon an idea to use iceberg lettuce leaves (the only lettuce widely available back in the day, no fancy Romaine then) to scoop off the fat. This works fine for two scoops, or until the heat of the grease cooks the leaves, wilting them into a greasy, green mess. Two heads of lettuce later and the roasting pan still looked like the aftermath of the Exxon Valdez, but now with floating green bits.

In spite of that disaster, the meal became a tradition of sorts and I went on to internet fame and no fortune as a CrabbyCook. I still believe in creativity, but I admit to having more kitchen gizmos than I could possibly use. So stick to the basics, cook the ingredients the fridge gives you and remember there's always tomorrow's meal.

Today's recipe is one of my "boy it's late in the day, what am I making for dinner tonight" meals. Boneless, skinless chicken thighs can be substituted for just about any stew recipe you care to try. They cook up faster, but also taste great if you have the time to let them stew for a few hours. Please enjoy...

Chicken Thigh Stew with Sweet Potatoes
by CrabbyCook

1 TBSP olive oil
1 large sweet onion, sliced
1 small hot (jalapeno type) pepper, seeded, deveined and diced
1 sweet pepper (yellow or red), chopped
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 1/2 cups chopped carrots
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 2 inch cubes
1 14 ounce can tomatoes sauce
1 28 ounce can diced tomatoes
1 cup red wine
1 cup low sodium beef broth
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon fennel seed
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 cup frozen peas

Heat oil in a dutch oven (Le Creuset) over medium heat.

Add onions and cook for 3 minutes. Add the hot and sweet peppers and saute an additional minute.

Add all the other ingredients except the frozen peas. Bring to a boil. Turn down the heat to a simmer, cover and cook for 1 1/2 hours.

Add frozen peas during the last 10 minutes.

Serve in bowls over rice.

OK, the thing about this recipe is that it's a great way to clean out the pantry. This meal is perfect for a cold autumn night.

Alright crablings, I'm outta here, remember, iceberg lettuce is a lousy fat skimmer and, you can do it you can cook.


Yesica N. Cook said...

Looks gorgeous! Btw, I too worked for a multinational computer company - but that was in the UK, so the outposts were very grey and dreary. The lettuce thing is hilarious. Thanks!

WineWizardBob said...

Another wine user friendly dish. TYCC

This dish goes equally tasty with red or white wine. The spicing and sweetness are a perfect foil for Anerican Pinot Noir. I would skip the Oregon 2007 vintage, but anything else should be fine. Nice dish to pick your favorite one from the cellar or that cute little rack in the kithcen.

Feeling like a white wine? Anything from Alsace or Germany will balance nicely. If you can find it the RK Riesling from Kesselstaat was a wine I tasted this week and it was perfect Riesling for about 15 dollars a bottle. Sooo good, it doesnt need food.

First T-day married, the bride had not cooked a bird before and decided to bake it in a self basting bag with a pop up timer. AFter way to many hours, the meat fell off the bone, would have been nice to get it out ot the bag first.