I love stews. I love how hearty and comforting stews are. And because the very nature of a stew is so fluid, you can vary a stew a million ways. You start off with the base foundation of onions and garlic, dunk in really good stock, pick your preferred protein, toss in any assortment of vegetables you like, add a splash of drinkable wine, sprinkle any combination of herbs for flavour, and voila, you get a beautiful, bubbling stew in about an hour and a half! This is my (very loose) interpretation of a sassy cajun-styled chicken stew, texturised with corn for sweetness and red pepper for a subtle heat.
Ingredients (feeds 4):
5 chicken thighs, about 250gm each (fresh, not frozen)
1 yellow onion, diced to 5mm cubes
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 red pepper, diced to 1" cubes
200gm cremini mushrooms, sliced
1 cup corn kernels
2 bay leaves
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (or substitute with the cumin, paprika, thyme, pepper, garlic, onion powder and cayenne with 2 tbsp cajun seasoning)
1/2 cup white wine (I used a chardonnay)
3-4 cups chicken stock
1) Marinate chicken with salt and cajun seasoning for at least 3 hours. Remove from fridge about half hour before cooking. Brown chicken in non-stick pre-heated pan. There's no need for oil because the chicken will render its fat in due time. After searing golden (no need to cook through), remove and set aside, leaving 2 tbsp of the drippings in the pan.
2) Fry the onions and garlic in 2 tbsp chicken fat until onions translucent, about 1 minute.
3) Add mushrooms and fry, about 2 minutes if not waterlogged.
4) Add red peppers and fry till fragrant, about 1 minute.
5) Add corn and fry for about 1 minute.
6) Add wine and stir through until almost fully reduced, about 2 minutes.
7) Add stock and return chicken to pan. If necessary, add more water so the liquid covers the top of the chicken.
8) Add bay leaves and cajun seasoning, stir and bring to a roaring boil before simmering for 50 minutes. An hour and 10 minutes, if you prefer a more fall-off-the-bone texture. Salt to taste, if necessary, before serving.