Reconstruction Era Chicken Stew
What You Got In The House?
I decided on the very day that I wrote this blog that I wanted some comfort food. I had subjected my stomach to three straight days of either spaghetti and meatballs with tomato based sauce or a meatball sandwich with the same. That much acidic infiltration into my intestines made me feel somewhat uncomfortable, to say the least. I had been avoiding those types of meals for so long, I had the misguided impetus to give them a shot one more time. Bad decision.
Anyways, that was a bunch of verbiage unnecessary to the thrust of this blog, but I just wanted you to know it in to show you how unhappy I was for that decision I made and will not do it again. So, I opted for something that would help me get back to normal, and that meant my idea of comfort food: Chicken Stew.
Resounding Reconstruction Ramifications
Since my latest novel is centered around the period of history that involves the Reconstruction after the Civil War, I thought I would create something called Reconstruction Era Chicken Stew. Why I chose that name defies an explanation other than I had no idea what I was going to put together until I discovered what I had available in the house. So I served up my pot luck mentality with random choices for ingredients as the catch all definition for using whatever I could find to make my Stew.
I discovered a forgotten 10 pound bag of chicken thighs and wings in the back corner of the freezer and used that as a starting point. Now if only I could come up with enough other add-ins to make something delectable, I might have an interesting dinner to feast on.
So, I started uncovering hidden items in the refrigerator, freezer, kitchen cabinets, spice rack, and pantry. A bag of small yellow potatoes cropped up in the rear of the vegetable drawer. Further investigation uncovered a frozen 1 lb. bag of crinkle-cut carrots and another one of green peas. I found no celery, but a bag of white onions sufficed as a substitute.
The pantry yielded a 16 oz. carton of chicken broth and a small container of beef broth along with a 8 oz. can of sliced mushrooms. The garden gave up some fresh basil and the spice rack yielded a couple of Bay Leaves along with some cracked pepper and sea salt.
So Where Is The Recipe?
To put it as simply as I can ‘There Ain’t No Recipe’ other than what was in my head. So I figured on throwing it all together with a little help from a jar of minced garlic and see what popped out.
The first think I did was defrost the sealed bag of chicken in warm water. Cold water is recommended, but I didn’t have the time for that. Then several hours later, I opened the bag and pulled out each leg/thigh piece (a.k.a. known as chicken quarters) and cut them apart. Having already poured the broth into a medium sized pressure cooker pot, I carefully arranged the pieces so the whole contents of the bag would fit.
When done, I added some water to supplement the broth. After that, I cut about 10 small potatoes in half and placed them on top of the chicken pieces. Then I sealed the lid and cooked the combination in the pressure cooker with time set at 25 minutes. This would cause the chicken to fall off the bones, and the potatoes would be done to perfection.
What To Do While Waiting
In the meantime, I cut up 2 onions into a large bowl, added 3 tbsp. of minced garlic, the 1 lb. bag of peas, the 1 lb. bag of carrots, the 2 bay leaves, and some cracked pepper.
My plan was to cook this batch in the pressure cooker when the chicken/potato combo was done. If you’re asking why I didn’t cook the whole batch together, I’ll tell you why. Here goes.
First of all, the chicken pieces nearly filled the pot. Since I had arranged them carefully, I still had room for the potatoes, but nothing else. But that was okay as you’ll see.
Secondly, the remaining ingredients only needed a timed setting of 8 minutes. If cooked for 25 minutes, those items would have turned to mush. So that turned out to be a favorable decision on my part.
When the chicken was done I pulled the potatoes out first and placed them in a bowl. Then I removed the chicken pieces out of the broth 1 by 1 and pulled the meat off of the bones and separated the skin and connective tissue such that I had a large bowl full of pure chicken meat.
Then I poured the broth into a strainer that I had placed over a large pot. When done, the filtered broth went back into the pressure pot along with batch #2 of the ingredients. After the 8 minute time interval elapsed, I released the pressure and removed the lid. I then added back the cooked potatoes and chicken meat, stirred the concoction, and put the lid back on.
I left the pressure cooker on warm for 30 minutes to make sure all the ingredients were heated evenly through, but not cooked any more. Then I served the finished meal in large soup bowls on chargers with Focaccia Artisan Crackers from Town House. Voila! Delicious, satisfying, and comfortable on your stomach. Enjoy!
Historical Note: The Reconstruction Of America was a very difficult time for the United States. Food, money, jobs were hard to come by in the South. If you had enough basic ingredients to make a meal, you threw in the pot what you had, including leftovers. Hence an inspirational side note for the name I chose.