Creamy Chicken Stew

Robin loves to read the Dining section of the N.Y. Times. One of her favorite columnists, Mark Bittman, recently wrote about braising instead of roasting a chicken. Slowly cooking the chicken with vegetables in a creamy sauce sounded wonderful and so we adapt the recipe for our ingredients. We serve the one-pot dish with egg noodles, although bread would have been sufficient and would better soak up the flavorful sauce.

Servings and Times

Serves: 4
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 1 hours

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We start an hour and a half before we want to eat. The chicken is carefully rinsed, the gizzards and neckbone (the liver is discarded) are put in a small pot, and we put the chicken on a parchment covered cutting board. It is patted dry. With kitchen scissors, we add trimmed excess fat from the chicken into the small pot.

After cleaning our hands, the butter is heated in the Dutch oven over medium heat. A heaping 2 cups of water are added to the small pot and it is brought to a simmer over medium heat as well and then the heat lowered.

When the butter has melted and is foaming, we quickly salt and pepper the breast side of the chicken and add it to the butter breast side down. We clean our hands again and salt and pepper the backside of the chicken. We continue to cook the chicken, moving it with tongs occasionally, until it is nicely browned. This takes about 7 minutes.

We turn the chicken on its side and cook for another 3 minutes. Then it is turned to brown the back of the chicken. We repeat the moving of the chicken to make sure it is not sticking and when browned, we cook for another few minutes on the chicken’s other side. It is removed to a clean plate. The butter and fat from the Dutch oven is poured out into a container and discarded.

Meanwhile, the small pot with the “stock” is skimmed of the foam with our “skimmer” and cooked gently.

While the chicken is browning, we prepare the vegetables. The onion is trimmed, halved, peeled, and then sliced. This yields over 2 cups of sliced onions. We also rinse and pat dry the mini carrots and then halve them.

When the chicken is removed to the plate and the fat discarded, we add the onions to the Dutch oven and scrape up some of the bottom “bits” with a wooden spoon. We cook for a couple of minutes over medium-low heat.

We clean, trim, and chop the celery, yielding ½ cup.

We add the celery and carrots to the onions and stir well.

The parsnip is cleaned, peeled, and chopped, yielding ½ cup. This is also added to the vegetables and stirred. The potatoes are cleaned, peeled, halved, and chopped, yielding almost 2 cups. We stir in the potatoes. The garlic cloves are peeled, trimmed, and left whole—adding these to the pot.

The onions have been cooking for about 10 minutes. We add the bay leaf and dried thyme and continue to cook and stir for another 5 minutes.

We stir in the vermouth, scraping up the browned bits as best we can. While this cooks for a couple of minutes, we pour the chicken broth from the small pot into a large 2 cup measuring cup fitted with a strainer. This broth is added to the Dutch oven, along with the cream.

When the liquid is boiling, we add the browned whole chicken back into the Dutch oven, breast-side up. The liquid and vegetables come halfway up the chicken. We lower the heat so it is at a slow simmer, cover the pot, and cook for 20 minutes. We flip the chicken over, adjust the heat as necessary, and cook for another 20 minutes. We want the chicken tender and cooked through. We flip again and cook for another 20 minutes.

After an hour, the chicken is removed to a large bowl. The vegetables are removed to a smaller bowl with a slotted spoon. While the chicken rests, we raise the heat on the creamy liquid and boil it for a few minutes. We also taste it for seasoning.

When the consistency is nice for the sauce, we turn off the heat and return the vegetables to the liquid. We carve the chicken, adding the pieces of dark and white meat into the creamy liquid in the Dutch oven. We sprinkle with parsley and serve from the Dutch oven.

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