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Saturday, October 15, 2011

Creamy (Leftover Thanksgiving) Chicken Stew

As expected, this last weekend left us with some serious leftover chicken.  Often I'd take a page from my mom and heat it up with some gravy for use in sandwich form; however, this weekend I decided to make some chicken stew.

Probably because it was easier.

As always, I like to soften my onion and garlic a bit by sauteing it for a few minutes.

I added a couple chile peppers because I like my stew spicy.

Meanwhile, I chopped a few carrots, and cubed the chicken, and dumped those as-is into my slow-cooker pot.

With the carrots and chicken pieces in the pot, I then poured the sauté mixture in over top, and stirred it about briefly.  I added about a cup of frozen peas as well, just as-is.

The sauté pan, I chose to "clean" by reducing some milk in it.  I used about a cup of skim milk, mixed with a cube of chicken bouillon, and waited for it to bubble, but not boil.

All this while, I had been re-heating a jar of chicken stock which we had had in our freezer from a few months back.  It was frozen solid, and I wanted to use it soon-ish, so I re-heated it in a large amount of water.  Because the jar was glass, I had to be super careful when re-heating so as to not change the temperature too quickly.  Ideally it should have been completely submerged in the pot, but it was just a little too tall.  Fortunately, having the burner at only medium-high, the water heated up slowly enough to not occasion incident.

After that thawed, it was a simple matter of dumping all those liquids in after the chicken and vegetables, and giving it a few good stirs.  I added a half-dozen bay leaves, as well as a few good swigs of Angostura Bitters (a culinary gem passed to me from my Dad, surprisingly!) and at this point, she was ready to go.

I woke up super early, and we went out for most of the morning and afternoon, so this was perfect to just blip away in the slow-cooker for hours, until supper time.

As is my preference, I chose to add thickening agent in the form of corn starch in a tiny bit of liquid (in this case skim milk) LATER in the process, so as to more accurately guage how much is needed.  This stew needed a fair bit, mostly because the stock was really liquidy, but also because I like my chicken stew to be a little thicker, and creamier (hence the milk rather than water).  I ended up adding at least three tablespoons of corn starch.

As always, if you're planning on freezing all or part of a stew or soup, use tapioca instead of flour or corn starch.

In the end, we served this stew up with a fresh chunk of artisan bread for ripping and dipping.  The stew was really hot and perfectly spiced - an excellent mix of sweet, savoury, and spicy - with the chicken melting in your mouth!  Delicious!