When you are trying to figure out how you feed yourself decent food on a semi-regular basis, at home, without spending tons of money or all your free time soaking beans, and you happen upon someone who seems to have the whole feeding thing down pat, and you ask her, “so, how do you do it?” you’re bound to hear one of a few unhelpful answers.
I say unhelpful because at some level feeding yourself is something you have to do on your own terms, and whether it’s your astronomical takeout bill that gets you on the path or the awareness that everything at the salad bar has started to taste the same or the really good three-ingredient quesadilla you fried up in five minutes yesterday and have realized you could easily make a variation of today, if you want to cook at home, I know you’ll get there.
Anyway, one of the unhelpful things don’t-sweat-it, at-home cooks say is that you can make food on the weekend and eat your pot of stew all week. Though I love leftovers, this is not something I can do. I like to cook, after all; and so reheating chili on Wednesday that was delicious on Sunday kind of bores me, thereby making the chili less delicious.
This is crazy, not only because chili gets better with time.
On two consecutive Sundays recently, I got intense urges to cook stews, and these Sundays both fell before tiring weeks of work and events. The first week saw us coming home to this brisket chili at 10pm some nights, grateful not just for the smoky flavors but also for how clean reheating leftovers keeps the kitchen. The second week, I decided to make a version of a childhood favorite formerly known as “falling-apart chicken,” seriously upgraded with a ton of winter squash, some herbs, and some chickpeas. As our apartment filled with the warming wintry scent that only a stew can create and we imagined ourselves enjoying bowls on Monday, on Tuesday, and on Wednesday, we started making tentative dinner plans with friends in the neighborhood. Tentative plans are usually a pain, especially on Sundays, when the supermarket closes early.
Yet thanks to the stew–with its white wine reduction and chickpeas growing ever creamier–we were genuinely able to say “the more, the merrier,” to our friends, and not really care if we were two for dinner or seven. Tentative plans embraced by our Dutch oven! It was great. We picked up an extra box of orzo just in case and spent the afternoon wondering how many nights of leftovers we were in for.
Chicken and Butternut Squash Stew with Chickpeas
Serves 6 or more, with orzo
I served this as dinner for 4, with 1 pound of orzo. We had plenty to eat, plus leftovers for 2 days!
1 cup dried chickpeas, soaked for 6 hours or overnight
4 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken (I used 1 cut-up whole chicken in 8 parts, plus 2 legs)
2 large onions, chopped
8 cloves garlic, 7 smashed and 1 minced
1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeds scooped out, and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 teaspoon dried herbes de Provence or ½ teaspoon each dried thyme and oregano
1 sprig rosemary
2 cups white wine, preferably dry
Juice of half a lemon
Parsley for garnish
Dry the chicken and season with salt and pepper. Heat a Dutch oven over high heat and film the bottom with oil. Brown all the chicken pieces, about 3 minutes a side. Remove to a bowl. Add the onions and lower the heat to medium. Cook until wilted, about 5 minutes, scraping up the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the garlic, herbs, and rosemary. Return the chicken to the pot and add the wine and enough water to cover the chicken—about 6 or 7 cups should do it. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the soaked chickpeas, turn the heat down so the stew simmers, and cook, covered, for 1 hour, or until the chickpeas are cooked and the chicken is very tender. Squeeze in the lemon and taste for salt, adding by the ¼ teaspoonful (you’ll probably want at least ¾ teaspoon, depending on how much salt was on the chicken).
You can make the stew ahead up to this point. Cool, then store in the pot in the fridge.
Whenever you’re ready to eat, bring the stew back to a simmer, add the cubed butternut squash and cook uncovered for about 25 minutes, until the squash is soft. Once again, taste for balance of flavors, then serve hot, with lots of broth, over orzo or egg noodles. Garnish with chopped parsley.
This post is part of Food Network’s Fall Fest, where lots of bloggers share recipes for the same kind of produce. Today’s theme is winter squash. See what everyone else made below:
Jeanette’s Healthy Living: Thai Red Curry Chicken with Winter Squash
The Lemon Bowl: Stovetop Mac and Cheese with Winter Squash
Weelicious: Cinnamon Roast Butternut Squash
Elephants and the Coconut Trees: Creamy Squash Rigatoni
Blue Apron Blog: Acorn Squash Tempura Tacos
Taste With The Eyes: A Hearty Tomato Soup with Sausage and Spaghetti Squash
Devour: Winter Squash Macaroni and Cheese
Dishin & Dishes: Roasted Acorn Squash Crescents with Sage Pecan Pesto
Napa Farmhouse 1885: Roasted Pumpkin & Apple Slices with Maple Syrup
Red or Green: Butternut Squash Salad with Kale, Cranberries and Cayenne
Virtually Homemade: Spaghetti Squash Lasagna with Basil Walnut Pesto
Domesticate Me: Chipotle Pork Tenderloin and Butternut Squash Tacos
Daily*Dishin: Kahlua Baked Acorn Squash
FN Dish: Comforting Winter Squash Sides