Monday, September 29, 2008

Rich stewed chicken thighs

This was simply amazing. Utterly, utterly yummy, and fully deserving of a Yummy Stuff post. A thick, rich stew with juicy chicken thighs, perfect over boiled Yukon Gold potatoes. This made a dinner for two, but could easily be scaled up.

There are two distinctive herbs in this recipe - lovage and chervil, commonly used in German cooking. In Seattle, you can find chervil regularly at Whole Foods. It has a very delicate green-anise flavor. Lovage you can sometimes find as part of a prepackaged "seafood mix" of herbs - it looks like large Italian parsley leaves, but tastes like celery leaves with a bizarre twist. Substitute with celery leaves only if you can't find lovage - it is worth it. If you live in Seattle and know Pat and Tanya, feel free to ask for some - we have it growing in our backyard. It loves the climate here.

Richly stewed chicken thighs
makes 2 healthy servings

2 organic chicken thighs, skins included (remove later, if desired)
1/4 c flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2-3 Tbl vegetable oil

2 Tbl flour
2 cups COLD chicken stock
1 large carrot, sliced
1 small bundle (10-15 stems) fresh chervil, 4 sprigs Italian parsley, and 2 sprigs fresh French thyme
1 Tbl lovage leaflets, whole
1/2 small McIntosh apple, cored and coarsely grated (or some other sweet, flavorful apple such as Gala)
2 small leeks, sliced 1/2" thick
2 tsp salted butter
1 tsp salt

  1. Combine the flour, salt and pepper, and put onto a large plate.
  2. Dredge the chicken in the flour, coating both sides well.
  3. Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat until hot.
  4. Brown the chicken, starting with skin side down, about 5 minutes on each side.
  5. Remove the chicken to a plate, and drain oil in pan to 2 Tbl.
  6. Return pan to medium heat, and sprinkle 2 Tbl flour over hot oil.
  7. Stir over medium heat with a spatula or wooden spoon, cooking just until the flour is cooked, just under 5 minutes or so. The roux should be barely a light tan, but no darker.
  8. Add the stock, a little at a time, whisking completely between each addition.
  9. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, and add carrots, herbs, and apple.
  10. Reduce heat to a simmer, return chicken to the stew, and cover loosely. Turn chicken once during cooking.
  11. While the chicken simmers, heat a frying pan over medium-high heat.
  12. When hot, melt butter in the pan. After foam subsides, saute leeks until just turning brown, about 7 minutes. (Do not crowd the pan - if you have too many to fit in one layer, do this in two batches. The leeks should be caramelized in butter, not steamed.)
  13. Add leeks to the stew as soon as they are done.
  14. Continue cooking chicken until just barely done, about 20-30 minutes. Near the end of cooking, add salt, and adjust seasonings as needed. If the sauce needs more body, add 1 tsp Dijon mustard.

Vegetarian German night

As we sat down to eat last night, we looked at each other and realized that virtually the entire meal we were about to eat was local and organic. Not only that, it was extremely delicious - it made us want to eat like this all the time. It reminded me of the food of my childhood, and I felt very connected to a long tradition of serving these foods during the fall harvest. Granted, there would likely have been a ham involved, but we just don't eat that much meat - it wasn't missed. The only improvement might be to find another vegetarian dish that appeals to the umami receptors a little better. The litmus test would be my father - if you can serve him a vegetarian meal and he doesn't say "it was very good, but I don't feel full without the meat," you've accomplished something great.

A German Night To Remember

Kase - A hard, local goat cheese
ApfelsoBe - Applesauce made with local McIntosh apples
Gurkensalat - Cucumber salad with tarragon vinegar and dill
Kartoffelsalat - Potato salad with chervil & lovage
Sauerkraut - Pickled cabbage with garlic
Kohlrabi mit butter - Kohlrabi (a turnip-like vegetable) with goat butter
Bohnen mit butter - Beans with goat butter
Waldmeister getranke - A drink made with infusion of sweet woodruff
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