27 December 2011

Eats: creamy chicken and rice stew

Tis the season to be jolly... and to eat comfort food. Amirite? Last week was the SHORTEST and therefore DARKEST day of the year, but we’ve still got the coldest month ahead of us. To fight the blahs, this is when my crockpot and I become BFFs. Also, when I convince Mr. P that I have made a stew (which he likes) and not a soup (which he doesn’t) in the name of wintertime comfort food.

So today I have a creamy chicken and rice stew for you to make it through these cold winter days. And it’s easy-peasy! It’s loosely based on this recipe, though I’ve made quite a few changes. Because Mr. P is a fan of mushrooms, I added in our favorite pantry staple, cream of mushroom soup; because he does not like soup, I reduced the liquid quite a bit. But as always, you can adapt this to your liking!

You start with a few boneless chicken breasts, a can of cream of mushroom soup, two cups of chicken broth, one cup of water, and a box of Rice-a-Roni long grain & wild rice (including the flavor packet). Dump it in your crockpot, turn it on high for three or four hours, and then...

BAM! Chicken and rice are cooked. So easy.

But it’s missing a few things to make it a tasty stew. So, pull out the chicken into a separate bowl...

... and shred it up! Like most meat cooked in the crockpot, it should magically fall apart.

Then it’s time for veggies. You can chop up fresh veggies you prefer, but we like a blend of these two, one “soup blend” with carrots, celery and onion, and one “mixed veggies”, with carrots (double carrots!), corn, peas, and green beans. I add half a bag of each.

After another hour or so on high, they’re nice and tender:

But as you may notice, even with the reduced amount of liquid (I cut it in half from the original recipe), it’s still a bit soupy. So, I made a roux in a small pan with two tablespoons each of butter and flour:

Rouxs – rouxes? rousses? I don’t know, I took Spanish for my language elective – are an easy and tasty way to thicken up any soup into a stew. Just melt the butter on medium-low heat (don’t let it burn!), then stir in the flour until smooth without any lumps and cook for a few minutes to make the flour taste less raw. Then slowly add liquid from the soupy stew...

And stir it in until there’s no lumps. Keep stirring in broth as needed...

Don’t add too much at once, or you’ll get clumps. I wanted to reduce quite a bit of the liquid, so I added many spoonfuls of broth into the roux. Then when I added it back into the crockpot...

Voila! Stew! Totally not a soup, Mr. P. Promise.

I really liked this recipe as I adapted it, even more than I expected to. However. I tried it again later with smoked sausage (pre-cooked) and left it for about six hours on low. By the time Mr. P came home to turn it off, the rice had way overcooked and we had a giant crockpot basically full of... well, gruel. Without any liquid to reduce, at all. I think the sausage would have been tasty, but the lesson learned is that this unfortunately isn’t an all-day crockpot recipe for you working women. I think the next time I plan to make this, I’ll give it a try in the traditional oven (with my Le Creuset) for an hour or so, similar to the risotto recipe I shared previously.

But when you avoid making gruel, you get a very tasty stew.

With low-sodium broth, reduced fat cream of mushroom soup and butter, and tons of veggies, this isn’t half-bad health-wise, too! I plan to make this quite a bit in the coming months, and I hope you enjoy it at least as much!


Tina said...

I'm glad you're putting recipes on your blog for me! ;-)