CHANGE OF SEASON MENU: Eggplant Caponata with Balsamic Drizzle; Late-Summer Chicken Stew; White Rice; Fig and Walnut Cake
We all know that feeling, around May, when our appetites finally shrink after a long winter of craving mashed potatoes and stew. It’s a refreshing feeling, like we no longer need to eat more than our share to be satisfied. For me, this year, that diminished appetite simply didn’t last that long. When we set up a photo shoot, in July, that included Beef Stew
, I found myself wanting to eat every last morsel of the hearty dish, in spite of the fact that it was sweltering outside.
Now that it’s cooled down slightly, I imagine other people’s appetites have caught up to my own. It’s time, once again, for filling food. Hey, we’re only two months away from Thanksgiving! Perhaps best of all, it’s cool enough again that I can turn on my oven without cranking up the A/C–but that’s a dessert story for next week.
Still, in spite of moving from salad to stew in my cravings, the world keeps giving me salad ingredients. Corn is still being harvested; beautiful tomatoes still crowd the tables at the farmers’ markets. Though winter squash has joined summer squash in the crates, the summer squash is undoubtably still there. And the herbs remain plentiful.
So this dish, then, is a response to all of the above. Yes, it’s kind of warm, and homey, and perfect for fall. And yes, it incorporates those last-of-summer ingredients that even those of us prone to craving mashed potatoes in July will miss dearly come October.
From my kitchen, picking a dish just perfect for the season, to yours,
Cara, THE QUARTER-LIFE COOK
Late Summer Chicken Stew
2.5 pounds chicken (I used 3 chicken drumsticks and 4 chicken thighs, all skin on)
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
freshly ground pepper
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
½ red onion, chopped
1 red pepper, diced
¼ small jalepeno pepper, minced
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
3 garlic cloves, peeled and left whole
Juice of half a lemon
¾ cups white wine
¾ cups chicken broth (or water)
¼ cup mixed fresh herbs—whatever the garden gives you. I used a combination of basil, lemon thyme, oregano, and chives.
1 1/2 cups white rice
Season the chicken pieces on both sides with about ¾ teaspoons salt and lots of pepper.
Over high heat, brown the chicken in the oil, in a large Dutch oven. Be sure not to crowd the pan—you’ll probably have to do this in two batches. Chicken pieces will take 3-6 minutes to brown. Remove to a plate.
Turn the heat to medium low and add the onions. Cook for about 3 minutes, until nearly translucent. Add the red pepper and the minced jalepenos and cook for another 2-3 minutes, until the peppers soften. Add the cherry tomatoes and cook just until they begin to break apart. Add the garlic cloves and the remaining salt. Squeeze the lemon over and mix to combine.
Arrange the chicken on top of the vegetables, and stir in the fresh herbs. Pour the white wine and chicken broth over everything; the chicken pieces should be nearly submerged.
Cook for about 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Towards the end, taste for salt. The chicken should be cooked through and even slightly falling apart.
Cook the rice according to package directions and keep warm while the stew finishes.
Serve over the rice, along with some bread if you like. Top each serving with more fresh herbs and drizzle with some basil oil if you have it.