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February 24, 2013

CHICKEN TUSCAN STEW...A MAINE HOUSE MEMORY

These were our back woodlands at The Maine House!
 

Remember when I told you about our deer that would visit the Maine House during winter months? Well, here are two of them in all of their beauty! Isn't this an amazing picture? We had bought a game camera and strapped it to one of the trees back in the woods. There was an area where we left apples and crushed acorns and cornmeal feed blocks for them, which is the area where they would come visit from time to time, so we often would check the camera for any pictures it had been able to capture without disturbing them. They would also frequent our birdfeeders. Those Maine winters can be so harsh and I worried greatly about how they were able to find food or keep warm. We have some amazing photos of them and also short videos which feature them walking around, nuzzling the snow, eating an apple or such. We were amazed when we were watching one of the videos and a huge raccoon came wandering out of the woods and charged at one of the deer! The deer charged back and chased the raccoon back into the woods. It sure was a delightful way to watch this beautiful wildlife!


It's probably safe to say that the air is still cold where you are! Our little village in Maine has had record snowfall that does not seem to know when to stop! During those cold, wintery days, my thoughts drift to one place...the kitchen! You always need a big pot of stew bubbling on the store to warm your loved ones! I promise y'all, this one is going to knock your socks off!

 


TUSCAN CHICKEN STEW
1 5-6 lb. chicken
2 cups water
4 cups chicken broth
2-3 teaspoons salt, divided
1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper, divided
1 bay leaf
4 stalks celery, diced
3 carrots, diced
1 large onion, diced
5 medium red potatoes, sliced
1 15-oz. can great northern beans, drained and rinsed
1 teaspoon dried thyme
6 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
4 roma tomatoes, halved lengthwise and sliced
 
In a large Dutch oven or soup pot, simmer chicken, water, chicken broth, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon black pepper and bay leaf, covered, over medium-low heat for one hour.  Remove chicken and set aside to cool.  Pour broth through strainer and add broth back to Dutch oven.

 
Bring broth to a boil and add celery, carrots, onions, potatoes, beans, thyme, garlic, paprika, red pepper flakes, Italian seasoning, tomatoes and remaining 1-2 teaspoons salt (this depends on how salty your prepared chicken broth is – salt to taste) and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.  Reduce heat to medium and cook, uncovered for 45 minutes (cooking this uncovered will help reduce it and enhance the flavor).

 
Meanwhile, remove skin and bones from chicken; shred or chop chicken, cover and set aside.  Once vegetables and broth have cooked for 45 minutes, add chicken and stir to combine.  Cover pot, remove from heat and let stew rest for 30 minutes.  Stir and serve with cornbread or crusty bread.

 

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