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Dijon Chicken Stew

chicken stewThe first time I planned to cook for my fiance, I was going to make beef stew. It’s simple, hearty, and perfect for a cold San Francisco evening. As a bonus, it requires you to open a bottle of wine, pour out about a cup to cook with, and then wait for a good while. So we’d have an open bottle of wine and some time to talk while dinner simmered.

Then disaster struck. I cut up the carrots. Then I cut up the potatoes. Everything was going fine. Then I opened the meat, purchased only two days prior from a grocery store that will remain nameless. The meat was rotten. Not “a little gamey” or “on the maybe side.” It was funkier than George Clinton.

We considered ordering delivery, but cooking was a point of pride for me. And I’m stubborn. And the potatoes and carrots were already cut up and waiting. So I made chicken stew. Sub out rotten beef for chicken thigh meat from the freezer. Replace the cabernet with white wine (in that case, 2006 Tres Sabores sauvignon blanc). Tweak the seasoning for chicken instead of beef. It was perfect. Not only did I cook a romantic dinner, I did it in MacGyver style. We’ve made it numerous times since then, tweaking here and there every time, but starting with this basic recipe.

Chicken Stew

1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thigh.
1 lb. red potatoes, quartered
3 large carrots, cut into 1 1/2″ to 2″ pieces
1 medium onion, chopped coarsely
1 C pearl onions (frozen is fine)
1 C frozen peas
1 C white wine
1 C chicken stock
1/2 C dijon mustard
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 tsp. dried tarragon
1/2 lb mushrooms, cut in thick slices
olive oil

egg noodles or other pasta for serving

1. Season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper, then dredge in flour.

2. Heat about a tablespoon of olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium high heat. Brown the chicken on all sides. Remove the chicken and set aside.

3. Lower the heat to medium and add the chopped onion and carrots to the pot. Cook for five minutes, until the carrots just start to soften. Stir in the garlic and cook for another minute.

4. Add the tarragon and rosemary, then pour in the white wine, stirring to pick up anything that is stuck to the bottom of the pan. Add in the chicken stock and mustard, stir, and bring everything up to a simmer.

5. Add the potatoes and put the chicken back in the pot. Cover and simmer over medium heat for about 40 minutes.

6. When there are about 10 minutes left in the cooking time, heat a tsp. of olive oil in a small skillet, and saute the mushrooms until they start to give off all of their moisture, about 5-10 minutes, depending on the mushrooms.

7. After the 40 minutes is up, remove the chicken from the stew with a pair of tongs. Lower the heat to medium-low, and add the mushrooms, the pearl onions, and the peas to the pot. Cover and cook 10 minutes.

8. While the stew is simmering, chop or shred the chicken thighs into bite-size pieces.

9. Return the chicken to the pot, stir, and serve over egg noodles or rice.

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