For me, this stew is comfort in a bowl. The recipe is adapted from Cooking Light, and it has quickly become a family favorite, making regular appearances on our dinner table and in lunch thermoses the next day. The dish starts simply enough with cubes of boneless chicken thighs which are moister and more flavorful than white meat. A combination of butternut squash and parsnips take the place of the customary potatoes and bring both a sweet and nutty flavor to the dish. But it doesn’t end there. Both sage and ginger add complexity to the dish which is finished off with crisp cider and a generous amount of tart apples which ups the flavor quotient. There are a lot of flavors in this dish but they complement each other with no two bites tasting the same. It encourages you to go back for more. And more…. And more…..
CHICKEN, APPLE & BUTTERNUT SQUASH STEW
2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger
3 cups cubed peeled butternut squash
1 cup diced peeled parsnip
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups dry Normandy cider
1 1/2 cups unsalted chicken stock
2 cups chopped peeled Granny Smith apple
- Sprinkle the chicken with 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and 1/4 teaspoon of the pepper.
- Add one tablespoon of the oil to a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat.
- Add half of chicken to the pan and sauté 6 minutes or until browned.
- Remove chicken from pan. Repeat procedure with remaining chicken.
- Reduce the heat to medium and add the remaining oil to the pan.
- Add the onion, sage and ginger and cook for 2 minutes.
- Stir in the squash and parsnip then cook for an additional 2 minutes.
- Sprinkle the vegetables with the flour and cook for one minutes.
- Stir in the cider and chicken stock, scraping the bottom of the pan to loosen any browned bits.
- Stir in the chicken, the remaining salt and the remaining pepper.
- Bring to a simmer, reduce the heat and cook, partially covered for 25 minutes.
- Stir in the apples and cook for 5 minutes before serving.
Cooler weather means the onset of comfort food and what is more comforting than a steaming bowl of chicken noodle soup? But this soup, adapted from Cuisine At Home isn’t your ordinary chicken noodle soup. Made with a French twist, it is a sophisticated version of the soup I grew up on. Enhanced with brandy and apple cider, the broth is flavorful without being overpowering. Mellow flavored leeks replace the traditional onions with tarragon being the herb of choice. And of course you mustn’t forget the bacon. The vegetables are sautéed in bacon drippings and the entire bowl is topped with a sprinkling of crisp bacon. What’s not to like?
Serve the soup with warm buttermilk biscuits (which you can make while the soup is simmering) and you have a comforting dinner that will warm you inside and out.
FRENCH CHICKEN NOODLE SOUP
6 1/2 cups low sodium chicken broth
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
6 strips bacon, diced
2 cups sliced leeks
1 1/2 cups sliced carrots
1 1/2 cups sliced celery
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup brandy
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 1/2 cups apple cider
2 bay leaves
6 ounces dried egg noodles
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled and diced
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons fresh tarragon, minced
Salt & pepper to taste
- Place the broth and chicken breasts in a large pot set over medium-high heat. Cook until the chicken is cooked through, about 20 minutes.
- Remove the chicken from the pot and allow to cool. Reserve the broth.
- When the chicken has cooled, use two forks to shred the meat into bite sized pieces. Set aside.
- Add the bacon to a large soup pot set over medium-high heat. Cook the bacon until crisp.
- Use a slotted spoon to drain the bacon onto a paper towel lined plate.
- Reduce the heat to medium and add the leeks, carrots, celery and garlic to the bacon drippings. Cover the pot and cook until the vegetables are tender crisp, about 10 minutes.
- Uncover the pot and add the brandy to the vegetables, stirring to loosen any cooked on pieces. Cook until the brandy has evaporated.
- Stir in the Dijon mustard then add in the reserved broth, the apple cider and the bay leaves.
- Bring the soup to a boil over high heat.
- Stir in the noodles, the diced apple and the shredded chicken. Cook until the noodles are tender.
- Turn off the heat, stir in the lemon juice and tarragon and season with the salt and pepper.
- Serve immediately topped with the crumbled bacon.
The old adage that everything is better with bacon holds true. In my quest for new bacon related recipes I stumbled upon this one from King Arthur Flour. Because it is made in a crock pot, the hands on time for this dish is minimal and your entire house will be filled with the sweet and salty aroma of this jam before you are done. I was initially taken aback by the ingredients, which individually I love but I just couldn’t fathom being put together as a single dish (maple syrup mixed with coffee???), but the results surprised me……..after all everything is better with bacon. Whether served on bread slices and paired with a salad for a light dinner or paired with bread and goat cheese as part of a buffet table, this jam is a hit.
1 1/2 pounds bacon
2 medium onions, peeled and thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup boiled cider
3/4 cup strong brewed coffee
2 bay leaves
Salt and pepper to taste
Yield: 2 cups