Can I ask a random but still perfectly serious question?
Why do people make/eat/like watery stew?
I don’t get it.
Whenever I see a dish given the name of a ‘stew’ with chunks of stew and vegetables literally swimming, no DROWNING in a broth bath I just cringe. It really hurts my feelings, guys. Because I know that person is selling themselves short and settling for something that I reallllllly wouldn’t call a stew.
Call it a soup. Maybe even call it a ‘stoup’ like Rachael Ray does. Just don’t call it a stew, k? That’s kinda disrespectful.
For me, if I could put it in one word, the biggest difference between a soup and a stew really does come down to as TEXTURE. The base of a good stew just has a different texture than a soup. It SHOULD have a very different feel to it both when you stir it up in the pot, and when you’re eating it. If you can’t tell the difference between a soup or a stew, or a stoup and a stew, then it’s very likely that your stew’s texture is…off.
Should it be pasty thick? No. After all, it’s not a pot pie filling. However, it does need to be robust and have some body. It’s got to be thick enough where the liquid coats the back of the spoon when you dip into it. You shouldn’t be able to ‘slurp’ it up like a broth, but at the same time it should be loose enough where you can dip biscuits and/or rolls in it and soak up the extra goodness.
If all this sounds a little complicated, well…good. Now you realize how serious this is. Watery stew is no laughing matter. A good chicken stew was one of those things that when I was learning how to cook, I knew I wanted to nail early on. And I really do think that at this point, I have.
My chicken stew is one of the recipes on the blog that three years after I first posted it, still gets some of the most traffic. And you know what? I don’t mind blowing my own horn a tad bit by saying that I really do understand why.
It’s a damn good stew. It’s become a staple dish in my house and my family is always very enthusiastic when I make it. It’s pretty easy to do, coming together in about an hour. It’s one of those dishes you can make a huge batch of and have enough to last throughout the week. Not only that, it’s also a perfect comfort food dish for this time of year.
So why am I doing a revamp? Well for one, I think you guys deserve better pictures of it than the bunch I churned out three years ago when I knew jack-squat about food photography. Second, since then I’ve added a few ingredients to my chicken stews that I make now that I think make it taste even better than the original. Third, I’ve also made a new provision in the recipe for those of you out there that don’t have the time or inclination to chop your veggies. Because yes, sometimes even Jess uses those bags of veggies on the frozen foods aisle. No shame in my game.
This stew is everything I love about fall and comfort food; thick chunks of chicken (breast, cause you guys know me by now), a medley of my favorite vegetables: sweet potatoes, corn, carrots, mushrooms– all simmered together in a rich and robust gravy–NOT A BROTH.
Because we know better. Right? Of course right.
My Favorite Thick and Chunky Chicken Stew
Recipe by Jess@CookingIsMySport.com
- 2 and 1/2 pounds of skinless, boneless, chicken breasts, cut into bite sized (about 1 inch) chunks
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1 Heaping teaspoon of garlic powder
- 1 Heaping teaspoon of onion powder, plus 1/2 tablespoon
- 1 large sweet potato, cut into equal bite sized chunks
- 8 oz of cipollini onions, cut in half (one medium size yellow/sweet onion diced will also work fine)
- 8 oz of fresh or frozen corn
- 8 oz of baby bella mushrooms, stems and gills removed, caps roughly chopped
- 8 oz of carrot chips
- 1 teaspoon, plus 1/2 teaspoon of pepper, divided
- 1 1/4 cup of stout beer
- 3 cups of low sodium chicken stock
- 1 cup of water, plus 4 tablespoons, divided
- 2 1/2 tablespoons of honey
- 1-2 tbsp of Dijon mustard
- 2 bay leaves
- 4 tablespoons of corn starch
Note: The vegetable options for this dish are very flexible. If you don’t feel like chopping them up yourself, I’ve used a 16 oz. bag of frozen mixed veggies with this recipe before with perfectly fine results. Use what works for you.
Mix the flour, onion powder, garlic powder and 1 teaspoon of pepper together in a Ziploc bag. Add the chicken chunks to the bag, seal, then toss to coat thoroughly, so that there is an even layer over meat.
Coat a large on-stick pot or Dutch Oven with olive oil. Brown meat over medium- high heat. Don’t worry about it cooking all the way through, just cook long enough to give it some color. Don’t worry about the thick layer that forms on the bottom of the pot: it’s supposed to be there.
De-glaze the pan with the stout beer. Once the bottom of the pot is no longer sticky, add the chicken stock, water, honey, dijon mustard, sweet potato, onions, carrots, mushrooms, bay leaves, corn, 1/2 teaspoon of pepper and 1/2 tablespoon of onion powder and bring to a boil.
Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer stew covered, for 45 minutes. Adjust seasonings to taste, if need be.
Dissolve the cornstarch in 4 tablespoons of cold water and add to the stew. Cook uncovered over medium heat for an additional 30 minutes, until thickened. (If stew still has not thickened after 30 minutes, you can add 1 additional tablespoon of cornstarch. It’ll thicken. You’ll see.)