Recipe Test: Homey Chicken Stew (2024)

Technically, I suppose this is as much a book review as it is a recipe test. I need another cookbook almost as much as I need more quilt patterns. Nevertheless, this one caught my eye.

Recipe Test: Homey Chicken Stew (1)

While I have slow cooker recipes that I like, my experience is that most things end up tasting overcooked. Fresh vegetables end up tasting like those from a can and meat is cooked until it's mushy. There's no doubt that slow cookers are convenient, time-saving wonders, especially for home cooks and parents with full-time jobs (in addition to their other two full-time jobs of parenting and caring for their homes). No doubt that is why the slow cooker has stood the test of time.

In my family, we happen to like food that is appetizing to look at and that tastes good. So when I saw this slow cooker cookbook published by the folks at America's Test Kitchen, I had faith that the recipes would be good enough to satisfy our persnickety palates and maybe even good enough to serve guests. I'm happy to say that the book has not disappointed me. It is filled with page after page of delicious-looking recipes and beautiful color images. I like a cookbook with really good images of the food so that I can see what I'm going to end up with before I go to a lot of effort to cook it.

When America's Test Kitchens decided to tackle a slow cooker cookbook, they had s few goals in mind. They wanted the recipes to taste as good as something cooked on the stove top. Also, they wanted recipes that required a minimum commitment in up-front prep timeand a minimum mess in the kitchen. The problem with the slow cooker, they note, is that the closed cooking environment doesn't allow for browning or reduction, and those are the elements that develop good flavor in foods.

When we decided to go for a drive yesterday, it seemed like a perfect time to try out one of the many recipes I had bookmarked in my page-by-page preview. I settled on Homey Chicken Stew.

As with anything I cook in my kitchen, the first step is to give Gracie some kitty treats or resolve to have her under my feet through the entire process.

Recipe Test: Homey Chicken Stew (2)

Moving on, the recipe required browning the chicken ahead of time, but not cooking it through completely. Also, Ibrowned some onions in the same pan to soften them and added flour to create a nice base for the soup. Finally, I par-cooked the potatoes andcarrots in the microwave so that they would be tender when the rest of the stew was ready to eat. After that, everything was dumped into the slow cooker and it went to work on its part of the process. I'm happy to say that the stew was as flavorful and appetizing as the image in the book suggested.

Recipe Test: Homey Chicken Stew (3)

One thing I have always loved about the slow cooker is how good the house smells when one returns home.This chicken stew looks as good as it tastes. It's made with a minimum of salt, and so it's a good choice for those watching their salt intake.I made just a slight change to the original with the addition of some frozen corn.Here's the recipeas originally written:

Homey Chicken Stew
Recipe By: America's Test Kitchen
Servings 6-8

3pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs -- trimmed
salt and pepper
1/4 cup vegetable oil -- divided
2onions -- minced
6 cloves garlic
1tablespoon tomato paste
2teaspoons minced fresh thyme or 1/2 teaspoon dried
1/3cup all-purpose flour
1/2cup dry white wine
4cups low-sodium chicken broth -- plus extra as needed
12ounces red potatoes (2-3 medium) -- scrubbed and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
4carrots -- peeled and sliced 1/4-inch thick
2bay leaves
1cup frozen peas
1/4cup minced fresh parsley

Dry chicken with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Brown half of chicken lightly on both sides, 5-8 minutes; transfer to bowl. Repeat with 1 tablespoon more oil and remaining chicken; transfer to bowl.

Heat 1 tablespoon more oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add onions, garlic, tomato paste, and thyme and cook until onions are softened and lightly browned, 8-10 minutes. Stir in flour and cook for 1 minute. Slowly whisk in wine, scraping up any browned bits. Whisk in 1 cup broth, smoothing out any lumps; transfer to slow cooker.

Microwave potatoes and carrots with remaining tablespoon oil in covered bowl, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are nearly tender, about 5 minutes; transfer to slow cooker. Stir remaining 3 cups broth and bay leaves into slow cooker. Nestle browned chicken with any accumulated juice into slow cooker. Cover and cook until chicken is tender, 4-6 hours on low.

Transfer chicken to cutting board, let cool slightly, then shred into bite-sized pieces. Let stew settle for 5 minutes, then remove fat from surface using a large spoon. Discard bay leaves.

Stir shredded chicken and peas into stew and let sit until heated through, about 5 minutes. (Adjust stew consistency with additional hot broth as needed.) Stir in parsley, season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve.

My notes about the recipe

: I only used half the amount of oil stated. The chicken thighs produced plenty of fat on their own, and so I only used 1 tablespoon at the beginning. Also, I added 1 tablespoon of oil to the vegetables that went into the microwave. I think any frozen vegetable would be good added into the stew. It's a good way to rid your freezer of partially used packages. I had an open package of frozen peas, but it contained only 3/4 cup. I hated to open another package for such a small amount. Instead, I added another partially used package of frozen corn, about an additional 3/4 cup. I liked the color it added. I wouldn't hesitate to use pretty much any frozen or leftover vegetable you might have hanging around. Some drained canned diced tomatoes might add some nice color at the end as well.

This stew has everything it needs to be a meal in and of itself. I would even serve itto guestsat a casualget-together. The broth was especially nice, and so some sort of bread for dunking is a good choice for a side dish. I used Texas Toast. Pop it into your toaster oven. When it dings, dinner is served!

Recipe Test:  Homey Chicken Stew (2024)
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