Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Mustard Chicken Stew

This is an example of efficient prep ;)

Good news everyone! After a busy month of traveling and starting my new position at work, I'm finally starting to feel normal again. There have been a lot of long days at work, which has left me little energy or inspiration to cook. Joe has really picked up the slack and kept us very well fed, but I've started going into withdrawal over my lack of cooking. Thankfully, I'm starting to feel more in control of my new job, and it's making my life happier overall.

Tonight I had extra motivation to get into the kitchen... Top Chef starts up again tonight! Foodies around Chicago have really gotten into this show during the last two seasons, as chefs from our city have cooked their way to the final episode each time. I love this show! It has just enough drama to qualify as reality TV, and getting to know the different chefs as the season progresses is really inspiring. While I have no desire to be a restaurant chef, their ideas and passion are so exciting to watch. There is a chef from Chicago on again this season, so I'll be cheering for her from the beginning.
What better time than Top Chef premier night to get back into the kitchen? Joe and I decided to cook together tonight, and we choose a comforting sounding dish from a well known blogger's cookbook: Chocolate and Zucchini. It is really starting to feel like winter here, and this dish sounded like comfort food with a french twist. Plus, it wasn't too many ingredients or complicated steps, so I knew we could handle this on a weeknight.
The result was really satisfying and had great flavor. I was afraid of the number of onions it called for (I used 4 instead of 6), but the red onion flavor really mellowed out while it was cooking. The wine and mustard added a nice acidic zing, and I loved the thyme flavor. Clotilde was right when she said the leftover sauce would be great over pasta; the rich and satisfying flavor was addicting! My only complaint was that using pieces of a whole chicken meant a whole lot of skin and bones to deal with. I guess French people are better with their knife and fork, but I couldn't think of a neat and easy was to enjoy bone-in chicken as part of a stew. The flavor was great, but trying to eat the meat off the bone while enjoying the rest of the meal was a challenge. I think next time I'll compromise by using boneless chicken thighs, for that dark meat flavor without the obstacle of the bones.

Mustard Chicken Stew
From Chocolate and Zucchini by Clotilde Dusoulier

- 1 whole head garlic
- Olive oil
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- One 3-4 pound whole chicken, cut into 8 serving pieces (2 breasts, wings, thighs, legs)
- 6 medium red onions (about 2 pounds)
- One 28 to 32 ounce can good quality whole peeled tomatoes, drained
- 1 Tbsp fresh thyme or 1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
- 2 bay leaves
- A pinch of chili powder
- 1/3 cup dry white wine
- 3 Tbsp old-fashioned whole seed Dijon mustard (or 1/4 cup regular Dijon mustard)

1. Preheat oven to 400°F.

2. Peel away the outer layers of the garlic bulb skin, leaving the skins of the individual cloves intact. Using a knife, cut off 1/4 to a 1/2 inch of the top of cloves, exposing the individual cloves of garlic. Place garlic head on a piece of aluminum foil. Drizzle olive oil over the garlic, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Wrap the garlic head with the foil and place in the oven. Bake for 45 minutes or until the flesh of the cloves are light brown feel very soft when pressed with the tip of a knife. Set aside to cool.

3. While the garlic is roasting, heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot (with lid) or Dutch oven, on medium high heat. Rinse the chicken pieces in cold water then pat dry with paper towels. Season liberally with salt and pepper. Brown the chicken pieces, starting them skin-side down, cooking them a few minutes on each side, working in batches so that you don't crowd the pan.

4. While the chicken is browning, peel and quarter the onions. Remove chicken from pan when nicely golden with tongs or a slotted spoon and set aside on a plate. Discard any fat and oil beyond about 1 Tbsp left in the pan. Put the onions in the pot and cook them until softened, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes.

5. Add the tomatoes to the pot, the thyme, bay leaves, and ground chili powder. Put the chicken pieces on top of the tomatoes. Pour in the wine and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook on medium-low heat for 40 minutes, stirring from time to time so that the vegetables don't stick.

6. After the garlic has cooled enough to handle, squeeze out the roasted garlic from the cloves into a small bowl and crush with a fork. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside to serve with the chicken stew.

7 When the chicken has cooked, add the mustard to the pot and stir to blend. Increase the heat to medium-high and cook uncovered for 10 more minutes, or until the sauce is thick enough to cling to the meat. Remove bay leaves. Salt and pepper to taste.
Serve stew over rice or pasta, with the garlic paste on the side.


Darius T. Williams said...

Love the efficient prep - I really do.

Hey, I need you to e-mail I have an idea for Chicago food bloggers.


Lo said...

This looks like a great idea! Total comfort food -- and perfect for the weather we've been having.

bren@flanboyanteats said...

pretty pic of the red onions. love top chef-- if only!!