Mediterranean Chicken Stew – Glamorous yet Filling

Chicken stewChicken stew is frequently perceived as daily fare or as comfort food, but Emerill Lagasse’s version makes this dish truly fit for company. It is flavorful and robust, with just the right exotic Mediterranean touch.

Emerill Lagasse’s Version

You will see that Emerill Lagasse’s version of this stew adheres quite well to the Mediterranean diet. Based on his recipe for Mediterranean Chicken Stew posted in, to prepare this dish you will need two whole chicken breasts, (skinless, bone in, cut in quarters), two medium onions (sliced), two cloves garlic, one yellow or one red bell pepper (seeded and chopped), a teaspoon of turmeric, half a teaspoon each of ground cinnamon and ground ginger, two pounds sweet potatoes (peeled and cut into cubes), one can unsalted diced tomatoes (drained), two tablespoons golden raisins, and two cups low sodium chicken.

His procedure involves browning the chicken over high heat for two minutes, and setting these aside. He then tells his readers: “Add all remaining ingredients to the pot except the reserved chicken pieces. Bring to a simmer and cook for 2 minutes. Return the chicken to the pot, cover, and simmer for 30 to 40 minutes, until the chicken is barely falling off the bones.”

To serve, apportion the chicken and the sweet potatoes among four soup plates. Raise the heat to reduce sauce (about two minutes), stirring to keep the bottom from burning. Pour this sauce over the plates and serve at once.

Variations on the Theme

Food & Wine presents its own version of Mediterranean Chicken Stew, adding an even more distinctly Mediterranean flavor. This recipe calls for four tablespoons olive, a small eggplant, two chickens (about 3 ½ pounds each, and each cut into eight pieces), one onion and one fennel bulb (chopped), two cloves of garlic (minced), ¾ cup dry white wine, and 3 ½ cups canned tomatoes (also chopped). To this list, add two teaspoons salt, ¼ black olives, ¼ teaspoon black pepper, a teaspoon of lemon juice, and a bouquet garni made of one bay leaf, 3 sprigs fresh thyme (or 1/2 teaspoon dried), and 6 parsley stems.

To prepare, brown the eggplant and the chicken in olive oil and set aside. To the pan add the onion and the fennel, stirring constantly for five minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. The Food & Wine recipe then tells readers: “Add the bouquet garni, wine, the tomatoes with their juice, the stock and salt and bring to a boil, scraping the bottom of the pan to dislodge any brown bits. Add the eggplant, the chicken with any juice that has accumulated and the olives. Bring to a simmer over moderate heat, reduce the heat and cook at a bare simmer, partially covered, until the chicken is tender, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove the bouquet garni and stir in the pepper, lemon juice and parsley…”

Martha Stewart’s Mediterranean Chicken Stew is very similar to the one presented by Food & Wine, except that she skips the eggplant, uses fresh tomatoes and chickpeas, and serves the dish with polenta.

Wine Pairing

Food & Wine suggests pairing their Mediterranean chicken stew with “A rose from the Côtes de Provence or a red wine from one of the French seaside towns, such as Bandol or Cassis, is ideally suited to the bold Mediterranean flavors of this dish.” Picking a cue from this statement, a red or rose will do well as long as it complements the taste of the spiced and the chicken. With a good wine to accompany this dish, your dinner table is truly ready for company.

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