Few dishes are as easy and trouble-free to make as a stew. You can add almost anything to a stew to stretch the meat, or to use up those vegetables which are not enough to provide a side dish. Stews can have any flavour, from curries to creamy sauces. This very simple tomatoey chicken stew is easy and comforting. Cook one extra green vegetable and a pot of rice. Make a leafy salad, and enjoy either red or white wine with it. The leftovers, bones removed, will make great sandwiches tomorrow!
- 3 lbs chicken pieces, with skin and bones (1.5kg)
- 4 tablespoons flour (60 ml)
- 1 large onion, peeled and roughly chopped
- oil (for frying)
- 14 ounces canned tomatoes (usually 1 can or 400g)
- 1⁄2 teaspoon sugar
- 4 -6 medium potatoes, peeled
- 1⁄2 lb mushroom, cleaned and halved (250g)
- 2 teaspoons hot pepper sauce (or to taste)
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce (30 ml)
- 2 tablespoons chopped garlic (to taste)
- 1 tablespoon salt (or seasoning salt, to taste, about 1 Tblsp)
- black pepper
- chopped parsley (optional)
- chopped fresh herb (optional)
- Use a large pot, preferably with a heavy bottom.
- Cut chicken into serving pieces or use ready-cut chicken pieces (do NOT use skinned, boned breasts). Put in a bowl, scatter over the flour, and then turn over and over to coat more or less. Just more or less.
- Heat pot over high heat. Add a generous amount of oil like canola, heat a few seconds, then add the chopped onion. In this case the onion can be in large chunks -- the idea is that you do NOT get tearful over a plain stew.
- Stir the sizzling onion. Add the chicken. Keep the heat high, and although there won't be space for all the pieces to lie flat, no matter. Let the pieces below fry until they start browning, then stir the whole lot around with a wooden spoon with a long handle. Let bottom pieces brown -- but not every piece needs to be fried first. This frying is just to get extra flavour.
- In the meantime you have opened the tin of tomatoes. Hopefully it's of good quality, solid, with thick liquid -- not just a few tomato bits and thin juice. (If it's the latter -- add a few splotches of ketchup to the pot).
- Dump it over the furiously frying chicken and onion, and add the sugar. Stir the lot again.
- At this stage you might want to add a dash of water, just to stop the whole lot burning. One-third cup water, no more.
- Add some salt, which should preferably be your favourite seasoned salt, as modern chickens are not known for their flavour. You'll have to add more later.
- Turn heat to low, put lid on, make sure nothing burns and the stew bubbles gently. Now walk away for 20 minutes and do something else, or put the rice on to cook.
- Return to the stew, take off the lid, and add the potatoes, mushrooms, Worcestershire sauce, garlic and pepper sauce or hot pepper flakes -- not too much. You want a bite, not Jaws.
- Add more salt at this stage, and taste. There should by now be a satisfactory sort of sauce in the pot. If you think a flavour is missing, add it, it's your stew.
- Put the lid back on, and simmer for another 15 minutes or so, until the potatoes are cooked through.
- With a large spoon remove the entire saucy stew to an oven dish. If you have too much sauce, keep the rest, cool and refrigerate, and use as a soup base -- it's delicious and can't go to waste. If you don't have enough sauce it's your own fault, as you probably let the liquid all cook away.
- At this point, stir in any herbs or parsley you want to use. Chopped rosemary or oregano is great.
- Cover dish with foil, and keep warm until serving. Like all stews, it will improve in taste if it stands a while. It's usually best to make a stew a day ahead.
- *The mushrooms -- yes, their flavour will be lost in the tomato. They're added for texture, for that extra little soft bite, not really because they're mushrooms. You can substitute with chopped small zucchini.
- Serve with a green vegetable and rice, and in this house a salad will be expected too.