Simple steps are key ingredient in a soul-satisfying chicken stew

  • Associated Press
  • Tuesday, February 14, 2006 9:00pm
  • Life

Hearty and nourishing, a stew is the perfect antidote to winter’s chill. By definition, it’s a versatile one-pot meal, the quintessential comfort food.

A feature in Cooking Light magazine’s January-February issue develops this theme. Advice and recipes back up the reassuring claim that, along with all their other virtues, stews are simple to make. Success depends on following some simple steps that the magazine lists.

* Use the right equipment – a Dutch oven or a large pan with a tight-fitting lid.

* Choose the right cuts of meat, ones that aren’t too lean.

* Saute aromatics, such as onion or garlic, until they’re golden brown, then remove them from the pan.

* Dredge the meat in flour and shake off the excess.

* Brown the meat to make a crust and to leave browned bits to scrape up from the pan for flavor.

* Simmer the stew over low heat to make sure the meat gets tender.

* Add vegetables after the meat has cooked for a while so they don’t get overcooked.

You might get started with this satisfying chicken stew, a combination of boneless, skinless thighs and breasts that provide meaty richness and a pleasantly firm texture, respectively.

Dijon chicken stew with kale and potatoes

4teaspoons olive oil

2cups sliced leek

4garlic cloves, minced

1/3cup all-purpose flour (about 1 1/2 ounces)

1pound skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces

1/2pound skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces

1/2teaspoon salt

1/2teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1cup dry white wine

3cups fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth

1tablespoon all-purpose flour

1 1/2cups water

2tablespoons Dijon mustard

2cups (1/2-inch) cubed and peeled white potato (about 1 pound)

8cups loosely packed torn kale (about 5 ounces)

Crushed red pepper (optional)

Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the leek and saute for 6 minutes, or until tender and golden brown. Add garlic; saute 1 minute. Spoon leek mixture into a large bowl.

Place 1/3 cup flour in a shallow bowl or pie plate. Dredge chicken in flour, shaking off excess. Heat the remaining oil in a pan over medium-high heat. Add half the chicken mixture; sprinkle with 1/8 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon black pepper. Cook 6 minutes, browning on all sides. Add browned chicken to leek mixture. Repeat procedure with remaining chicken mixture, 1/8 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon black pepper.

Add wine to pan, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Combine 1 cup broth and 1 tablespoon flour, stirring with a whisk until smooth. Add the broth mixture, the remaining 2 cups broth, the water and the mustard to pan; bring to a boil. Stir in chicken mixture, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and remaining 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Cover; reduce heat and simmer 30 minutes.

Stir in potato. Cover and simmer 30 minutes or until potato is tender. Stir in kale; cover and simmer 10 minutes. Garnish with crushed red pepper if desired.

Makes six servings (serving size 1 1/2 cups). Per serving: 324 cal., 7.9 g total fat (1.5 g saturated), 30.9 g pro., 33.7 g carbo., 5 g fiber, 85 mg chol., 659 mg sodium.

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