Saturday, February 16, 2008

Post-Valentine's Chicken Shiitake Stew

Yesterday I had a deliciously lazy Friday. On that kind of day, I usually wander into the kitchen sometime in the middle of the afternoon and start flipping through cookbooks, thinking about a trip to the grocery store for dinner stuff. Yesterday, after flirting with the idea of making fresh pasta, I realized my heart was really calling for soup. Pasta would be too similar to the rich fluffy gnocchi I had had the night before at the Water Street Cafe. But soup – soup had the potential to be warm, fresh, satisfying and simple.

I've discovered this winter how easy and fun it is to make up soup recipes. Maybe it's because I always have homemade stock on hand now, or because I realized that there isn't really anything complicated or mysterious about how soups are created, but now it seems like soups just come together organically from whatever I have on hand. And there's a definite thrill in being able to throw a bunch of stuff in a pot and have it transform into a tasty meal.

Chicken Shiitake Stew with Yam, Sage, and Tomato
One word of warning about the following: I've been getting better at writing down quantities as I cook, but my recipe-writing skills are still lacking much – I never make note of any cooking times, and the kitchen warps my sense of time. So, use the times listed as a guide, but always trust your instincts before you trust me! And I promise I'll try to reign in my undefined creativity from now on...

6 boneless skinless chicken thighs
1 tbsp corn oil

16 dried shiitake mushrooms
4 cups boiling water

1 large yam, cut into large dice
3 stalks celery, finely diced
1 tbsp fresh sage, minced
1 tsp fresh rosemary, minced
1/2 tsp Hungarian (sweet) paprika
1/2 tsp sea salt

4 cups whole canned tomatoes and tomato juice
shitake soaking liquid (about 2 1/2 cups)
3 cups vegetable stock

1 1/2 cups long-grain brown rice, cooked (a good use for leftover rice)
1 tsp maple syrup

1. Heat oil in a large pot over med-high heat. Add the chicken pieces and brown for 5–10 minutes on each side, until nearly cooked through. Remove the chicken from the pot and set aside to cool. When cool, roughly dice the chicken.

2. Meanwhile, boil water and pour over shiitake mushrooms in a bowl. Cover the top with a plate, so that the mushrooms are submerged. Leave to soak for 20 minutes.

2. With the chicken browning oil still in the pot, add the celery and yam along with the herbs and spices. Saute for 5 minutes.

3. Pour in the tomatoes and their liquid, the shitake soaking liquid, and the stock. Dice the soaked shiitakes (removing and discarding the stems) and add these to the pot. Bring to a boil and then simmer until the yam begins to become tender. Then add the diced chicken and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the rice and maple syrup and simmer for another 5 minutes. Then you're done!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Good for you, making it up out of what's in the fridge. Sounds like my pasta sauce approach. Sometimes strange but always nutritious and creative!