Friday, October 12, 2012

Fast, Easy Chicken Stew

Portland has been unusually dry this summer.  For weeks I've been dreading the day the beautiful weather would end.  It's been one of those eternal summers that makes me feel like warm, beautiful weather would be my privilege forever.  Now I see that tomorrow it's going to rain, and I'm surprisingly happy about it.  Endless summer takes its toll: the ground is dry and hard, there have been wild fires all over the state, and the air is thick with smoky haze.  It's time for this state and this city to get renewed.  The coming week of rain will be like a spa vacation for Oregon.

Today was probably my last big harvest day at my garden.  I finally had to rip up the last of the sunflowers and the squash plant that kept on giving like it would never die.  I picked some carrots, and the ones left behind will be happy about the rain when it comes.  I still have lots of tomatoes on the vine, and I picked those that looked full-size.  I have this Sun Gold tomato plant that produces like nothing else, and I harvested lots of ripe little orange globes from that plant too.  When I got home, I was inspired to make a harvest stew.

Here's the concept: I use my 450-degree oven technique that I spelled out in this post.  I first heard about it on the Splendid Table on NPR.  I cook like this regularly, but I thought I'd change the concept slightly from a roasted dish to a stew, but without any extra work or time.  I simply used a deeper pot than usual and let the ingredients crowd a little.  I added tomatoes to the mix for moisture.  Then I let the oven do the rest.

Harvest Stew Recipe:

Place a heavy, cast-iron dutch oven in the oven, uncovered, and set the temperature to 450 degrees F.

While the oven is heating up, chop up your veggies and place them in a large bowl.  Use about:

2 red potatoes, sliced 1/8" thick
1/4 lb. tomatoes, chopped
1 shallot, sliced thickly
2 small crookneck squash
2 carrrots

sprinkle ove the veggies:

1 Tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper

Toss the vegetables into the oil.  Add to the bowl:

4-5 chicken thighs

Toss the oil and spices onto that. Add more if necessary to coat the chicken and vegetables.  When the oven is up to temperature, place the chicken and vegetables inside and cook, uncovered, for about 35 minutes or until the chicken is done (160-170 degrees F).

Serve and enjoy!