Cool days and nights call for comfort foods to warm the bones. There is nothing better than a stew and one of my favorites is a chicken stew recipe I got from my friend, Jennie, a few years ago. It’s made from scratch and most of the ingredients are fresh. For the chicken stock, use a high quality, low sodium brand. I’ve served this for company and they have thoroughly enjoyed it. While the stew is OK reheated, the biscuits get soggy. If you have leftovers, remove the biscuits and make some fresh for the leftovers. For the leftovers, I sometimes make refrigerated biscuits. If I make this just for my family, I sometimes cook the biscuits separately on a baking sheet and serve on top of a serving of the stew. That way I have delicious biscuits to reheat. I like to pair this stew with a nice California chardonnay, such as St. Francis Chardonnay.
Chicken Stew and Biscuits
6 split chicken breasts, bone in, skin on
3 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
5 cups chicken stock
2 chicken bouillon cubes
1 ½ sticks unsalted butter
2 cups chopped yellow onion
¾ cup flour
¼ cup heavy cream
2 cups medium-diced carrots, blanched for 2 minutes
1 package (10 ounces) frozen peas
1 ½ cups frozen small whole onions
½ cup minced parsley
For the biscuits:
2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 stick cold unsalted butter, diced
¾ cup half and half
½ cup chopped fresh parsley
1 egg mixed with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Place the chicken breasts on a sheet pan and rub them with olive oil. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Roast for 35 to 40 minutes, or until cooked through. Set aside until cool enough to handle, then remove the meat from the bones and discard them and the skin. Cut the chicken into large dice. You should have about 5 cups of chicken.
In a small saucepan, heat the chicken stock and dissolve the bouillon cubes in the stock. In a Dutch oven, melt the butter and sauté the onions over medium-low heat for 10 to 15 minutes, until translucent. Add the flour and cook over low heat, stirring constantly for 2 minutes. Add the chicken stock to the sauce. Simmer over low heat for 1 more minute, stirring until thick. Add 2 teaspoons salt, ½ teaspoon pepper and the heavy cream. Add the cubed chicken and carrots, peas, onions and parsley. Mix well. Place the stew in a 10 x 13 x 2 inch oval or rectangle baking dish. Place the baking dish on a rimmed cookie sheet lined with aluminum foil. Bake for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the biscuits. Combine the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the butter and mix on low speed until the butter is the size of peas. Add the half and half and combine on low speed. Mix in the parsley. Dump the dough out on a well floured counter or board and, with a rolling pin, roll out to a 3/8 inch thickness. Cut out 12 circles with a 2 ½ inch round cutter.
Remove the stew from the oven and arrange the biscuits on top of the filling. Brush them with egg wash and return the dish to the oven. Bake for another 20 to 30 minutes until the biscuits are brown and the stew is bubbly.
Makes: 8 servings
For dessert we love a pound cake recipe we had at the Allaire Timbers inn in Breckenridge, Colorado many years ago. This is a cake we enjoy every fall. My favorite apple to use is Granny Smith.
Apple Pound Cake with Caramel Sauce
2 cups sugar
1 ½ cups vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 medium apples, peeled and finely chopped
1 cup chopped walnuts
Caramel Glaze (recipe follows)
Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 12 cup Bundt cake pan in any design.
Beat sugar, oil, eggs and vanilla in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Stir in flour, salt and baking soda until smooth. Stir in apples and walnuts. Pour batter into prepared pan.
Bake 1 hour to 1 hour 20 minutes or until toothpick inserted near center comes out clean. Cool 20 minutes. Remove from pan; place on wire rack. Spoon Caramel Glaze over warm cake. Serve warm or cool.
½ cup butter
½ cup packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons milk
Heat all ingredients in saucepan to boiling, stirring occasionally. Boil 2 minutes, stirring constantly; remove from heat and spoon over warm cake.
Cake serves 12 to 14.
These comforting dishes are sure to warm up any winter night.