Old-Fashioned Stew

Old Fashioned Stew-2

The cooler days and scent of fall in the air has me craving warm, comforting dishes, like stew.  I was curious about the origins of what we think of as “stew”, as I’m sure this differs from place to place and family to family.  While researching the origins of the usual ingredients of stews, typically potatoes and some kind of meat, I read that potatoes were introduced to Europe sometime around the 16th century by Spanish explorers.  However, Europeans have been cooking meat for much longer than this, so I would assume that some kind of stew-like dish was being made not long after humans discovered fire for cooking.  But the first well-known named (sometime in the early 1800s) stew is the famed Irish Stew, its ingredients traditionally being lamb, potatoes, onion, broth and some butter or suet.  The traditional stew was also cooked in the oven, not on top of the stove, but the stove-top method is a bit easier, so that’s how I cooked this stew.  Other versions of stews that I came across also had some herbs added, such as marjoram, thyme, sage and parsley, along with more veggies like carrots and turnip.

Not being a lamb-eater myself, but still wanting to stick somewhat close to a traditional stew, I chose to make mine with a small chicken breast I had in the freezer, some shallots, mushrooms, potatoes and carrots.  Of course a stew can be made with any meat, or even vegetarian; simple, satisfying and hearty are the only prerequisites.

Ingredients: (serves 2, or 4 as a side dish)

1/2 to 1 pound of chicken cut into small bite-sized pieces (or meat of choice, or more mushrooms)
1 pound yellow fleshed, waxy potatoes, diced into 1 inch pieces (such as Yukon Gold)
1 celery stick, finely diced
1-2 shallots, finely diced or one small onion
4 large crimini or shiitake mushrooms, quartered (or one portobello)
4 medium carrots, thickly sliced
2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1 sage leaf, finely chopped or 1/4 teaspoon dried sage
2 tablespoons butter
fresh ground pepper to serve

Melt the butter over low-medium heat, and add the diced shallot and celery.  Add chicken pieces and, stirring occasionally, sautee to a golden brown.  Add the mushrooms, diced potatoes and carrots, and continue to sautee for another 5-10 minutes, stirring to make sure the potatoes don’t stick to the bottom of the pan.

Add the herbs and salt along with the broth and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  Once it reaches the boil, turn back down to a low simmer and allow to simmer for approximately 20 to 30 minutes, or until the broth has thickened, the chicken is cooked through, and all the veggies are tender.

Serve with freshly ground pepper, some crusty bread and a pint of Guinness.

Old Fashioned Stew

 

Printable version:

Old-Fashioned Stew

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1/2 to 1 pound of chicken cut into small bite-sized pieces or meat of choice, or more mushrooms
  • 1 pound yellow fleshed waxy potatoes, diced into 1 inch pieces (such as Yukon Gold)
  • 1 celery stick finely diced
  • 1-2 shallots finely diced or one small onion
  • 4 large crimini or shiitake mushrooms quartered (or one portobello)
  • 4 medium carrots thickly sliced
  • 2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 sage leaf finely chopped or 1/4 teaspoon dried sage
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • fresh ground pepper to serve

Instructions

  1. Melt the butter over low-medium heat, and add the diced shallot and celery.
  2. Add chicken pieces and, stirring occasionally, sautee to a golden brown.
  3. Add the mushrooms, diced potatoes and carrots, and continue to sautee for another 5-10 minutes, stirring to make sure the potatoes don't stick to the bottom of the pan.
  4. Add the herbs and salt along with the broth and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
  5. Once it reaches the boil, turn back down to a low simmer and allow to simmer for approximately 20 to 30 minutes, or until the broth has thickened, the chicken is cooked through, and all the veggies are tender.
  6. Serve with freshly ground pepper, some crusty bread and a pint of Guinness.
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