Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Chicken Stew and Spades with the Reids

Tonight my in-laws came over for dinner and spades.I always partner with my father-in-law, and Phillip and his mother play as a team. Let's get the important stuff over first - we won! (Heh) It's OK. I'm entitled to gloat just a little. We always get annihilated at Rook. I still don't really get that game.

Back to dinner now that we've got that out of the way. It was pleasant out, so we got to eat in the backyard pavilion.

Mixed Green Salad with Honey-Lemon Dressing

Chicken Tomato Stew

Creamy Polenta

Apple-Parmesan Muffins

Ever notice how the wording on a menu makes all the difference in the world? I mentioned this to my sister-in-law, Natalie today. (Holla!) "Creamy Polenta" sounds better on the C.V. than "corn meal mush", which is exactly what creamy polenta is. Not to say it tasted bad, but presentation goes a long way. "Corn meal mush" wouldn't get the job. "Creamy Polenta" would.

I decided on Apple-Parmesan muffins because I didn't have time to put together any dough for rolls, and the larder is devoid of anything that would have gone with dinner. Somehow, whole wheat English muffins just didn't grab me with this. I often forget about the lowly savory muffin as a bread option when I want one. Likewise, I forget biscuits. Both are great alternatives to risen bread when you're short on time. (When I remember them in the nick of time, I feel like someone ought to give me an award.) These muffins are whole wheat, apples, parmesan cheese (not much), and buttermilk and eggs. Typical wet/dry ratio of muffins. They're good and will also make nice breakfast bread in the morning. Not sweet. But they could be served with jam or honey and be great with coffee.

Phillip has been nagging me to use up the okra we got at the Farmer's Market. I didn't want to fry it, and it's great with tomatoes, so I took a look around and thought about what else I had. It was a fairly last-minute construction, but came together well. It's nothing new under the sun - just a bunch of stuff tossed in with tomatoes and some herbs and served over corn meal mush. Here's the recipe, more or less:

Chicken Stew

  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • Pinch of kosher salt
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, salted and peppered
  • 4 ea chicken sausage (mine was Italian seasoned)
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 2 - 28oz. cans whole tomatoes plus juice
  • 1 cup okra, sliced
  • 1 eggplant, sliced, salted and patted dry, then cut into wedges
  • 1-4 inch sprig fresh rosemary
  • 4 ea fresh sage leaves
  • 1 bay leaf
Sautee' the onion in the olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven. Add a pinch of kosher salt. Add the chicken thighs and chicken sausage and brown. Add the red wine and scrape up the browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Boil until wine is reduced by half. Add the whole tomatoes and the okra. Add the rosemary, sage, and bay leaf. Turn down the heat to low and simmer about 30 - 40 minutes, until the chicken thighs are cooked, stirring occasionally and mashing the meat around a little to break it apart into pieces. If you leave it longer than that, no big deal. Add the eggplant about 10 minutes before serving. Whoever gets the bay leaf wins. I don't know what they win - I guess a bay leaf. But yeah, baby, they win. Come to think of it, maybe what they win is spades. I did get the bay leaf.

Serve this stew over polenta, or of course you could use rice or mashed potatoes or nothing. That recipe would probably serve six easily. We have a leftovers. Come on over, if you want them for lunch.

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