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Chicken Stew Three Ways

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While preparing yet another chicken dish the other night, it occurred to me that chicken is probably the most ubiquitous protein in the world. It's hard to think of a culture without chicken. Given that fact I thought, "why not borrow some ideas from around the world to inject a little variety into our meals". And Chef Jerry Pellegrino, I decided to talk about Chicken Stew Three Ways.

The three culinary traditions I picked are Italian, Moroccan, and Caribbean. Between the three of them, I felt that we could get a good variety of ideas.

First, let's understand that there are as many chicken stew recipes as there

are kitchens, so these are not intended to be totally representative. But assuming one's as good as another, let's give it a whirl.

All of these recipes will have certain things in common, so it is the little accents and choices that make them different.

With the Italian chicken stew we'll be naturally working with tomatoes and herbs like oregano and thyme, and a few kalamata olives for a Mediterranean kick.

The best recipe I found came from Savory Tooth, and I thought it was all you'd expect. This recipe (which I include at the bottom) wisely calls for chicken thighs, which happen to be my favorite part of the bird.

You start by sautéing your vegetables... onion, celery and carrot. Add a can

of good quality diced tomatoes, with their liquid and some chicken broth. Cook a while, then toss in basil, bay leaves, oregano, thyme, salt and pepper. A little tomato paste will start to thicken the sauce.

Add your whole boneless chicken thighs, then let it simmer under a tight fitting lid for about 40 minutes. When the chicken is cooked, use two forks to pull the meat apart. Add some kalamata olives, and cook some more until the sauce reduces and thickens.

The Moroccan chicken stew features traditional ingredients like almonds, lemons, a panoply of spices and dried fruit. This recipe from BBC Good Food, asks you to carefully toast the almonds. Then using ghee as your fat, gently sauté onion, ginger, garlic and spices. Fry the chicken thighs until golden brown. Pour in some chicken stock, and toss in sliced red peppers, lemon slices, olives and your dried dates and apricots. Simmer with the lid on for an additional 40 minutes throw in some cut up green beans and you're done.

Caribbean Brown Chicken Stew recipes all rely on something called "browning sauce". This one, from Immaculate Bites, explains. Browning sauce is a much reduced sauce based on brown sugar and beef broth, that adds a depth of flavor to any meat dish. A lot of stores carry it, but you can make your own.

You'll start by coating the chicken thighs in a dry marinade with spices and aromatics. Let it sit overnight, then the next day, remove the chicken and save the rest of the marinade. You will sauté the chicken in vegetable oil, and set aside once they are golden brown. In the same skillet you will sauté a mixture of onions and peppers along with hot sauce, sugar, ketchup and the all-important browning sauce. Add the remnants of the marinade vegetables and cook for a few minutes. You'll want to deglaze the pan with a little water, add the cooked chicken and bring the whole thing to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer for a half hour more. Serve over rice and black beans.

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ITALIAN CHICKEN STEW

From Savory Tooth

Ingredients

1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs

14 oz. can Italian diced tomatoes

1 1/2 cups chicken broth

1/2 yellow onion, chopped

2 stalks celery, chopped

1 carrot, chopped

1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped

1/2 cup kalamata olives, pitted and chopped

2 tbs olive oil

1 tbs tomato paste

1 tsp salt

1 tsp dried oregano

1/2 tsp ground black pepper

Instructions

1. Pour olive oil into a large deep skillet. Heat to medium, then add onion, celery and carrot. Sauté until tender.

2. Add the diced tomatoes(with their liquid), the chicken broth, basil, tomato paste, oregano, salt and pepper. Stir over medium heat until the tomato paste is dissolved.

3. Add chicken thighs to the skillet, making sure they are submerged. Cover and cook over low heat for 30 minutes.

4. Using two forks, shred the chicken meat. Add the kalamata olives.

5. Continue to simmer, uncovered and allow the sauce to thicken. Check for seasoning. Serve piping hot.

Al Spoler, well known to WYPR listeners as the wine-loving co-host of "Cellar Notes" has had a long-standing parallel interest in cooking as well. Al has said, the moment he started getting serious about Sunday night dinners was the same moment he started getting serious about wine. Over the years, he has benefited greatly from being a member of the Cork and Fork Society of Baltimore, a gentlemen's dining club that serves black tie meals cooked by the members themselves who are some of Baltimore's most accomplished amateur cooks.
Executive Chef Jerry Pellegrino of Corks restaurant is fascinated by food and wine, and the way they work in harmony on the palate. His understanding of the two goes all the way to the molecular level, drawing on his advanced education in molecular biology. His cuisine is simple and surprising, pairing unexpected ingredients together to work with Corks' extensive wine offerings.