Saturday, December 1, 2012

Mamma's Healthy Whole Chicken Stew

Of all the soup recipes in the world, how come you keep going back to the ones you had as a child? I experienced this phenomenon when I became a Mom. Being a Mom is not an easy job. And when I had my moments of stress, my heart craved the comfort and the carefree moments of my happy childhood. With my family thousands of miles away, the easiest way for me to relive those times were to make the comfort foods I grew up eating. The comforting warmth and the familiar aromas would calm me even before I finished cooking them. I would be instantly transported into that golden period, when nothing much had been expected of me rather than stay where Mom could see me, and not kill myself, playing with stuff. And it had the additional bonus of seeing my little "stress-givers" tucking in decently and enjoying the food as much as I did, as a kid.
My Chicken Stew is one of those recipes. The original stew doesn't contain all these veggies and is pretty spicy-hot to be even considered a stew. And the chicken was browned in a lot of oil, which was then reused to saute the onions and ginger-garlic. I have made my own changes, which hasn't altered that taste, but has definitely gone a long way in keeping it wholesome and nutritious. Hope you all try this, like this and your kids or grand kids enjoy eating this as much as me.
And this recipe also works for leftover Chicken or Turkey too. Just saute all the veggies, add sufficient water and simmer away for 30 minutes and throw in the leftover chicken/ turkey and cover and cook for another 20 minutes or until the meat is tender.
Serves 6-8. Prep & cook time: Roughly 1 hr 20 minutes


Whole chicken, skinned and cut into 8 pieces (Or you can cook it with the skin and pick out and discard them before serving. Chicken skin gives that beautiful flecks of gold to your soup and tastes good too!)
2 tbsp minced Ginger
2 tbsp minced Garlic

 [There is no fixed size for the chopped veggies. Just make sure, all the veggies are cut in the same size except for the celery. Celery is better chopped finely]
2 large Onions, chopped
2 stalks of celery, chopped
1 large tomato, chopped
2 green pepper, chopped
4-5 green chilies chopped
a small handful of trimmed green beans
1 carrot, chopped

1 tsp Turmeric powder
1 2- inch piece of cinnamon
6-8 whole peppercorns
5-6 whole cloves
1 bay leaf
Salt & Pepper
1 tbsp canola oil

A nonstick dutch oven or a stock pot is the vessel of choice for this stew.
In 1 tbsp canola oil, over medium high heat,  saute cinnamon, pepper corns, cloves and bay leaf and when the cloves crackle, add ginger and garlic and saute for 2 mins.
When the ginger-garlic is kind of glossy, add the remaining chopped veggies and onion and stir well. Add the salt and pepper as needed. Stir in the turmeric powder. Let the veggies get sauteed for about 3 minutes.
Finally add the chicken pieces. Stir well until everything gets combined well. Add 8 cups of water or if you prefer chicken stock.
Bring to a rapid boil under high heat. Using a lid ensures you don't waste energy.
Once it boils, reduce the heat to low and let it cook covered for about 60 minutes. Stir occasionally.
After 60 minutes of simmering, meat should be falling of the bone and onions should be mushy.
If not, just return to simmering on low heat for another 20 minutes.
Check the seasonings, remove the whole spices, if you dont like biting into one a-midst savoring the stew.
Now what I'd do at this stage is just remove the lid and let it boil away until it reaches the consistency I want, and keep the stew rustic and chunky.

*Smooth soup lovers can remove the chicken pieces carefully, pulse the soup, shred the chicken meat, remove bones and skin, and return the shredded meat to the pulsed soup and heat it up.*

Serve it on a cold night, with lightly toasted Garlic bread or any crusty bread of your choice. Enjoy! 

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