Monday, January 31, 2011

Mexican Chicken Stew

Yesterday was one of those fairly relaxing Sundays. Ali was home and her friend Jessica stayed the night. They went to the cheer competition with us and then they took Kami and Nate up to see Tangled. The movie didn't start until 9:45, which happens to be about my bedtime, so I decided I would stay home. After church we had a quiet afternoon. David and Nate painted the ramps to the newly refurbished trailer that David has been working on, Kami took a nap and Ali and Jessica looked online at apartments and Westmoorland terriers. Oy! I decided to get dinner going early since I had to take the two younger ones to youth choir at 4 and needed it pretty much done so David just had to add the finishing touches before we got home to eat.

This is one of those happy disasters. I had every intention of making the Chicken Stew recipe from Christy Jordan's Southern Plate cookbook. Even got the chicken going in the pot. Then I realized that my bag of potatoes only held 2 small red potatoes - that wasn't going to cut it. Oh, and Zippy has been enjoying the daily carrot treat, so my bag of carrots was down to two, too... (haha! not sure if I have ever done that before - used all three spellings of that word in succession) So, I had to switch gears and got out another starch, a box of Quick Barley that I had bought because I wanted to try something new... and had yet to try it out. So last night was the night. I remember cans of Campbell's Beef and Barley soup when I was a child. I liked it then, so why not now. Barley is kind of like rice - a starchy grain that gets a bit puffy when it is cooked. When I started adjusting the stew recipe, I decided I would go in the "Mexican" direction with the seasonings and added beans and ended up with a very delicious stew. When I use whole tomatoes I usually take the lid off of the can and then use a serrated steak knife and stab all of the tomatoes several times so they don't squirt their juices everywhere. Then run my knife through the inside of the can to try and cut up the tomatoes a bit while they are still in the can. If I am going to cook something for a couple of hours, they will continue to break down, this just gets them started. If I leave them whole, they will just stay that way. It is a keeper recipe, for sure. I hope you enjoy it!


1 3-4lb whole chicken
2 med. onions
2 T. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 28oz can whole tomatoes
1 14 oz. can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
1 can small red beans (or black if you like)
1 1/2 c. frozen corn kernels
1 c. quick barley
1 T. cumin
1 T. chili powder
2 t. salt
1/2 t. black pepper

In a large pot place the chicken and enough water to cover it on high heat. Bring the water to a boil and then reduce the heat to medium, cover the pan and allow to cook on a low boil for 45 minutes until the chicken is cooked through. You know it is cooked all the way when you grab the leg and it basically falls off the chicken (grab it with tongs...boiling water is a bit rough on the hands). Remove the chicken from the pot and set aside until it is cool enough to handle and then remove the chicken from the bones (I like big pieces, as you see from the picture) and set meat aside for later. Skim as much of the fat off the top of the broth and reserve 6 cups of the broth (I put the remainder into a plastic container and freeze for future use in soups, rice, potatoes... lots of things). In the same pot heat the oil and saute the onion until translucent. Add the garlic and saute just another minute - be careful not to burn the garlic or it will be bitter and ruin the entire dish. Add in the broth, tomatoes and seasonings. Test the broth at this point to be sure it tastes good. You may need to adjust the salt and may have to add more later especially after the beans cook later. Bring this all to a simmer and cover. Allow this to simmer for about an hour then stir in the corn, beans, chicken and barley. Check the seasonings. This will need to simmer for another 30-45 minutes until the barley is soft.

I put some garlic bread under the broiler and we had a tasty stew for dinner. Plus I have some broth for something else later this week or month. With the exception of the barley, it is all ingredients that you either have or probably normally buy. I would encourage you to give it a try.

Today is an essay-grading kinda day. The couch and my red pen are both calling me. Until next time, stay warm and loved, my friends!

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