Tuesday, January 21, 2014

A Little Something to Cure What Ails You: Basque Chicken Stew

This post is kind of a public service announcement about getting your flu shot if you haven't already. Personally I have never gotten a flu shot. A couple of years ago when the H1N1 flu hysteria was at a fever pitch, I threw a fit out of worry and concern for my kids and made them get one, but I took a pass thinking that I was immune to any kind of flu after years of nursing the sick and wounded in my family. Wrong!

Thursday night my husband mentioned that he had an annoying little tickle in his throat. By Friday morning he was reporting that he had spent the most uncomfortable night of his life with a cough, migraine, chills and body aches. By Saturday morning he was in full blown, moaning and groaning flu misery. I was so relieved and maybe just a little bit smug about the fact that I had dodged the flu bullet and was free to nurse him . . . again.

It was Saturday night when I felt a strange little sensation in my own throat that I knew I was probably in trouble. Knowing that even though my flu probably wouldn't be as bad as my husband's (it never is for some reason), I figured that I would probably be absent from the kitchen for a day or two. I quickly started throwing together the ingredients for a Basque style chicken stew to give my son something to eat during my down time.

I had originally purchased the ingredients for this recipe planning on a blog post about a great slow cooker meal. I love this tomatoey, sweet and sour chicken stew which is inspired by the flavors of the Basque Country that straddles the northern border dividing Spain and France. Not only is it bright and flavorful, but the fact that you just kind of throw it all together makes this recipe close to perfect. Little did I know how comforting it was going to be for not only my hungry son, but also for me and Mr. H when we arose from our death beds needing a little sustenance on the road to recovery.

So I have decided that in the future Mr. H and I will definitely be getting our flu shots every year.  I have also decided that it is probably a good idea to have the ingredients for this delicious, nourishing stew on hand just in case we do get sick and need something to bring us back to the land of the living.

Basque Chicken Stew

6 boneless chicken thighs cut into 2" pieces
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons oil
1 medium to large size bell pepper (yellow, orange or red), julienne sliced
1 medium to large size sweet yellow onion,, julienne sliced from end to end
1 large orange, supremed (peeled and separated into skinless sections)
1 teaspoon orange zest
6 large sun dried tomatoes, julienne sliced
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup dry white wine (red wine is nice too if you prefer)
1 - 15 ounce can chopped tomatoes with juice (I used fire roasted)
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1 large bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 handful (about 12 - 16) pitted black olives (I used kalamata)
1 handful medium (about 12 - 16) green pitted Spanish olives with or without pimentos

Season chicken thighs liberally with salt and pepper; set aside.  Heat oil in a large frying pan over medium high heat.  When oil is good and hot, add chicken pieces and brown on each side.  Transfer chicken to slow cooker or stock pot. Add the bell pepper, onion, orange, orange zest and sun dried tomatoes to the chicken.

Add the chicken broth to the frying pan to deglaze it, stirring to loosen any bits from the bottom of the pan. Pour broth over the chicken and vegetables. To this mixture add the wine, tomatoes, garlic, thyme, bay leaf, red pepper, and olives. Give it all a good stir and cover.

Set slow cooker to high and cook for approximately 1 - 1/2 to 2 hours after it starts simmering, or simmer on low on the stove top for 1 - 1 1/2 hours until chicken is tender.  Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve as is or over cooked noodles or rice. I also like to serve it with a dollop of sour cream or Greek yogurt on top and a sprinkling of cilantro.

Serves 4 - 5 without noodles or rice, or 6 with accompaniments.

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