Easy Chicken Recipe - Stewed Chicken

Being able to create great stewed dishes is a skill that every cook should master, and it is possibly one of the easiest.  Stewed Chicken is a comfort food we all can relate to.  Your favorite might be chicken and dumplings, or perhaps a hearty chicken and rice stew.  There are as many variations as there are families to prepare them.  But there are some basics that all these dishes have in common.

Stewing meat has been around for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. Stewing recipes can be found in the Roman cookbooks believed to date to the 4th century, and records go back to archaeological finds 8000 years old.  It is really no wonder that even our earliest ancestors used this method for cooking meats.  If you have ever eaten any wild game you will probably recall that it was somewhat tough.  Stewing is one of the easiest ways to bring out the flavors of the various ingredients and tenderize the meat.  It is also very frugal as it allows every bite of meat to be consumed with nothing left behind but the bone.

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To make a heart warming Stewed Chicken you will need;

Easy Chicken Recipe - Stewed Chicken

A crock pot - I prefer the type with a removable crock that can be put in the refrigerator overnight.  This way I can prep the meal the night before and store it safely until morning.  Then all I have to do is put the crock into the electric liner, set it and try to forget it while I am working all day.  Hard to do because I know what awaits me when I get home.

Chicken - You have many options with chicken.  You can purchase pieces already cut.  A stew pot full of chicken legs is a treat for young children.  You can use a whole chicken, cut up your own or buy cutup chicken.  You can even use a roasting chicken, a stew chicken, or a frying chicken.  They will all give you a good stew. You can remove the skin or leave it on.  The preference is yours.

Vegetables - You will need at least celery, carrots, onion, potatoes if you like, and I would suggest parsnip if you can get it.  Parsnip adds a subtle undertone of flavor and I will tell you that once I began adding this to my chicken soups and stews my family's colds seemed to clear faster.   I can't prove it but my mother swore by my chicken soups and stews and would call demanding I make it for her anytime she felt a cold coming on. 

Seasonings - Salt, pepper, and  poultry seasoning are the essentials.

Note:  You may choose to use potatoes, pasta, or rice in your stew.  We like potatoes and they are a good addition, but you may decide to use pasta or rice instead.  If you do, you will want to add it during the last hour or so before serving.  Cooking pasta or rice all day may result in these ingredients disintegrating and thickening your broth too much making a mushy mess.

Chicken Stock or Broth - You can use water, but if you start with a good chicken stock or broth the sauce and the chicken will be richer and have a fuller bodied taste.

Now you are ready.   It is a simple process to combine the ingredients in the pot and set them to cook.  But if you have a little time the night before you can add a little extra to the process. Here's how.

Saute about a cup of each, chopped celery, chopped carrots,and chopped onion, in butter, olive, or vegetable oil until the onion is slightly translucent.  Pour the mixture into the bottom of t the crock.

If you choose to use skinless chicken, now is a good time to remove that skin, but use it to your advantage.  You can cut the skin into pieces and fry it.  No coatings, just the skin in a 1/2 teaspoon or oil. Just enough to coat the bottom of the pan.  If you have some of those spray oils that is great for this.  Frying will help to render out much of the fat that you don't want,but you will be left with a crunchy intense flavor that you can add to your stew.  

I also like to brown my chicken pieces before adding them to the pot, but it is not a requirement.  If you choose to brown the parts,then just brown them. A minute or two on each side is all you need.  The meat will cook in the pot.

Add the chicken to the pot and cover with the chicken broth or water. Now set the crock, covered, in the refrigerator overnight.

If you are using potatoes and parsnips, cut them into chunks and add them with the chicken.

In the morning, take the crock out of the fridge and insert it into the electric pot.  Give the mixture inside a good stir and set the crock on High if you want to eat in about 6 hours.   Medium for after work deliciousness.  I do not advise trying to cook this on anything lower than a medium heat or for less than about 6 hours.  It is important that the chicken is fully cooked to eliminate danger of illness from salmonella.

The starch in the potatoes and the process of long slow cooking will produce a thick gravy like sauce. You can thicken this with a little cornstarch added 30 minutes before done. Mix 2 heaping teaspoons of corn starch with 1/4 cup of cool water or cooled broth taken from the pot.  Stir into the pot and allow the liquid to return to a bowl.  You could also remove the solid ingredients, the chicken, potatoes,and vegetables, to a platter.  Then pour the liquid into a small pot and add the corn starch, stirring until thickened.  About 2 minutes on a medium heat.  Pour over the platter full of goodness.

If you do not have a crock pot, you can do this on the stove top or in a dutch oven. I would not be comfortable, however, using this option unless I was home all day.  If you are home and decide to use the oven, simply follow the recipe and place in an oven proof pot.  Cook at 325 degrees for about 5 hours or until chicken is falling off the bone.  Same on the stove top.  Use a medium heat, simmer softly (tiny rolling bubbles breaking the surface) for about 6 hours.  Chicken should be falling off the bone when done.

Add a nice bread and a tossed salad and you have a meal in minutes.  You can trust me when AI tell you how much your family will enjoy this dish on a cold winter evening.  Stewed chicken is a dish we remember from childhood.  It is family dinner, Sunday dinner at grandma's house, and mother's love all rolled into a pot of steaming comfort.  And you did it all with very little effort.   Your family will think you slaved over a hot stove all day.   Shhh.  Don't tell you did it in a crock pot.

Easy Chicken Recipe - Stewed Chicken

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