as the weather gets cooler, I begin to crave meals that warm, but don't stick-to my ribs. I want something hearty, but healthful; flavorful but not fatty. this stew is the answer. it's well-seasoned and warming without leaving you beached on the couch after dinner.
it comes together fairly quickly once everything is prepped, but the prep work does take some time, so I thought I'd write the recipe to be explicit about the order in which I do my prep.
so many recipes are written with the prep built into the ingredients list. I think it's done for clarity of instruction, but it also ends up hiding some of the labor, which can come as a surprise if you start cooking at the end of a long work day.
I've tweaked the recipe in a few ways: I swapped in chicken for pork, so it's a little lighter than the original, and I like my stew a tad bit saucier than Tanis's. to achieve that magical balance, of saucy and stewy, I add a bit more chicken stock, but suggest that you shred some of the chicken chunks after the stew is finished simmering. this helps to thicken the extra broth slightly, but still retain that saucy goodness. finally, I also add fresh zucchini just before serving. this isn't traditional, but I love the textural interplay of the tender chunks of carrot and potato, the spicy strands of chicken, and the refreshing crispness of the zucchini. it wakes the stew up a little bit (and uses up some of my apparently endless supply of squash!)
2 ½-3 pounds boneless skinless chicken (I use a combination of breast and thighs for flavor)
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more to taste
1 teaspoon ground black pepper, plus more to taste
1-2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 medium onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
¼ cup tomatoes (fresh or canned)
½ cup chopped roasted green chiles (you can roast them yourselves in advance. info in the note, or use frozen or canned)
1 tablespoon all purpose flour
6-8 cups chicken stock (homemade or packaged)
1 ½ pounds yukon gold potatoes
2 small zucchini
chopped cilantro for garnish
- begin by chopping up your veggies: peel your carrots. chop them into 1 inch pieces. move the carrots to a small bowl and set aside.
- remove the outer papery layers of your onion, slice it in half through the root, and then dice the whole onion. pour the diced onions on top of the carrot chunks and set aside.
- mince the garlic finely. scrape it onto a small saucer and set aside. if using fresh fruit, chop about half of a large tomato into ½ inch chunks. scrape into a bowl and set aside. if using fresh roasted chiles, chop them now and set aside.
- slice the potatoes in half and then chop them into 1 inch pieces. move the potatoes to a small bowl. slice the zucchini in half lengthwise, slice each of those halves lengthwise, and then slice each quarter into ½ pieces. set aside
- pour 1 teaspoon salt and¾ teaspoon pepper into a saucer or ramekin and stir together. set aside.
- using a fresh cutting board if possible, cut your chicken into approximately 1 inch pieces.
- with clean hands, season the chopped chicken thoroughly with the salt and pepper mixture.
- in a large soup pot, heat 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil until it shimmers. working in batches, brown the chicken pieces in the oil, being careful not to crowd the meat. as you remove each batch of browned chicken, place it on a plate nearby. use the second tablespoon of oil to refresh the pan, if necessary.
- take your bowl of onions and carrots and carefully scrape the onions into the hot, chickeny oil. sauté the onions for about 5 minutes, until they soften and begin to brown.
- add the carrots, tomatoes and green chiles and stir to mix into the onions.
- add the ground cumin and the garlic to the vegetables and stir to combine.
- sprinkle the flour over the veggies and add the remaining ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon ground pepper. give the whole shebang another good stir to mix.
- add the reserved chicken pieces and any juice back into the pot and stir well. cover the mixture with 6 cups of chicken stock and bring to a boil.
- cover the pot and reduce the temperature so the stew is at a low simmer. simmer gently for about an hour.
- at this point, you should taste the broth add more salt or pepper to your taste.
- add the potatoes and continue to simmer another 10-15 minutes, until the potatoes are just cooked through and the chicken is tender.
- shred some of the chicken chunks with two forks.
- if you like your stew a little saucier, add the remaining chicken stock and simmer a few more minutes. add the sliced zucchini and stir to mix into the stew.
- ladle into large bowls and top with chopped cilantro.
- serve with tortillas or fresh cornbread.
this makes about 6 hearty servings, and the stew freezes well if you want to double the recipe.
note: to roast green chiles
if you have access to fresh green chiles you can roast them yourself. for this recipe Tanis suggests using Anaheim or New Mexixo chiles, but says you can also use a combination of poblano and jalepeño peppers. ideally you would roast them over an open flame on a barbecue or gas burner. I have roasted them under my broiler with success as well. take about 12 large chiles and roast them until the skin blisters and blackens. (no need to oil them or anything.) let them cool long enough to handle, and then rub off the charred skin. roughly chop the chiles. twelve roasted chiles should result in about 1 cup of chopped roasted chiles. I usually roast this many and then freeze half to use later.