Unlike beef stew, which I make from fresh cuts of beef, chicken stew is foremost a way of reclaiming and elevating leftover roast chicken.
There’s not much point in stewing chickens these days. Old recipes like coq au vin are from a time when we actually let some of our birds grow old enough to be tough and require stewing to tenderize. Basically all of the chickens that we eat now are less than two months old, so their meat is extremely tender. Stewing these birds only dries them out.
However, if you happen to have leftover roast chicken, shredding the meat and coating it in the sauce of a stew returns some moisture and savour to the meat.
In other words I consider this a great secondary preparation. Roast a chicken for Sunday dinner, make stock from its bones on Monday, have chicken salad sandwiches on Tuesday, and chicken stew on Wednesday.
Obviously the exact vegetables should change with the seasons. Below is an example of a late summer version using corn, bell peppers, zucchini, and potato.
- 75 g unsalted butter
- 200 g onion, 3/4″ chunks
- 20 g garlic, minced
- 1 tbsp sweet paprika
- 1 tbsp dried oregano
- 175 g carrot, 3/4″ chunks
- 100 g celery, 3/4″ chunks
- 60 mL dry cider or white wine
- 150 g red bell pepper, 3/4″ chunks
- 500 g Yukon gold potato, 3/4″ chunks
- 90 g corn kernels
- 1 L good chicken stock (approximately)
- 250 g zucchini, 3/4″ chunks
- 400 g chicken, shredded or cut into 3/4″ chunks
- 120 mL chopped herbs, ideally a mixture of parsley, thyme, rosemary, and sage
- 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar or white wine vinegar
- kosher salt to taste
- black pepper to taste
- Melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed pot. Sweat the onion, garlic, paprika, and oregano in the butter until the onions are starting to turn translucent.
- Add the cider or white wine and reduce by 2/3.
- Add the carrot, celery, bell pepper, potato, and corn. Add chicken stock until the vegetables are just, just covered.
- Simmer very gently until the vegetables are tender. The potatoes will take the longest. Add the zucchini for the last 10 minutes.
- Remove 500 mL of the stew and blitz into a smooth purée in a blender. Add the purée back into the the sew.
- Add the chicken, fresh herbs, and vinegar. Taste and adjust salt and pepper as desired.
Yield: about 2 L of chicken stew