Sunday, February 24, 2013

Chicken Ragout

Okay. I will admit that this is a recipe I've never tried before, but hubby was watching some cooking show over the weekend (there were motorcycles involved as well...) and they were doing some "rustic" dishes.
This got us talking about all sorts of things, and got me thinking about what to do for our Sunday dinner.  I have plenty of chicken in the freezer right now, so decided to pull some of that out and poked around in the pantry and decided to try making a chicken ragout.
So the first thing I did was to go online and do a search for some sample recipes. I found several, each was a little bit different. Some contained things that I would love to have added, but we either just didn't have to hand right now and/or absolutely no one else in the household would eat. I'm talking zucchini,  yellow squash, asparagus, artichokes and the like. I do have a tin of artichoke that I might be adding as a garnish to my plate, but I don't think anyone else will be doing so. I know hubby won't touch them and the few times I have tried introducing them to my youngest step daughter (aka The Teenager) she's not liked them. I've done the tinned one and freshly steamed and/or roasted. Not a big seller for her at this point, but then, I didn't develop a taste for them til later in life as well. (Honestly, not sure I was ever exposed to them younger..)
Anyway, so I got my ideas, compared them to what we had available, and this is what I've come up with. For this recipe, I will be using:

*   1 whole chicken, cut into parts (feel free to use all legs, thighs, breasts, whatever if you prefer.) Leave out the wings, gizzards, and other organs. Save them for stock later. I will be leaving the skins on, but you can remove if you would prefer.
*   A combo of olive oil and butter for frying. The mixture adds flavor and allows for a better smoke point. I will be using some of my home made garlic butter mixture, because it's another way to add more flavor.
*   A splash of burgundy or other red cooking wine. I don't use cooking wines often, but they do have their places and uses, and this is one of them.
*   about 2 or 3 carrots, sliced
*   1 can peas
*   1 small onion, sliced
*   1  can stewed tomatoes with
*   1  can diced tomatoes
*   2 tsp ginger/garlic puree
*   1  or two potatoes, diced into large chunks. I really would have loved to use some baby potatoes, red, maybe yellow, for this, but we didn't have any and I didn't want to spend $4 yesterday to pick any up when I've got large ones at home already and I can just cut them up and use those. maybe another time when the budget has more wiggle. :)
*  1 pint chicken stock
*  large handful of dehydrated mushrooms (If you have fresh, or even canned, use them. I had some I'd dried a while back.)

So my first step it to heat up the pan and get my fats all sizzling. I'm using my very large, 14 inch cast iron skillet for this today. I would have preferred to use one of my smaller pans, but when I pulled them out they were rusted, and in one case, pitted, badly. So I was left with the larger pan. Which is fine for this, as I have plenty of room and don't need to brown my chicken in batches like I would have in the smaller pans.
I will be doing another post later about how we will be dealing with the cast iron problem.  It appears they got put away damp, which is a big no-no. I don't use them nearly as often as I probably should, so this happens from time to time.

Next, place your chicken pieces in the pan. Since I'm using the larger pan, I have plenty of room for everyone. Also, since my pan is so large, I have the heat up pretty high to help keep the entire cooking area nice and hot.

Once everything is nice and crispy and golden on one side, add your cooking wine and turn the pieces over. I just splashed a little over each piece as I flipped it.

When both sides are nicely browned, remove from pan and let the fats cool enough to be drained. I have a can I keep handy for pouring off fats. Let it cool and congeal  and once the can is full, you can toss it if it isn't suitable for other uses.
(If you are wondering, yes, there are things you can do with left over kitchen grease. You're on the internet, google it... :) )
Please note, your chicken is NOT cooked all the way through at this point.

Do reserve a little of the fats though for sauteing your veggies.

Into the pot will go your sliced onions. Let them have a little room and get a little color, then add in your sliced carrots and your ginger/garlic paste. Mine came in a little jar from the ethnic food isle and says it is a stir fry seasoning. If you have any fresh or tinned minced garlic, use that instead, but I like the addition of the ginger, and it's something I'm trying to get more of into our diets anyway. Add in any other spices and seasoning you might desire. I just added a bit of black pepper. I don't tend to add much salt when I'm working with store bought canned items. They tend to have more then enough salt already in them, but if you like more salt, add it.

Once those start getting a little color, add in your potatoes, then your tomatoes and  stock.

Then you add your chicken back into the pan and let it come to a good boil. Let it boil for about 2 minutes then turn down and simmer. Honestly, at this point I'm really wishing  the smaller cast iron pots were available. They're smaller in diameter, but they are deeper and have a cover. I don't have a lid large enough to fit this pan, sadly, but if I did, it would be covered at this point.
But, since I don't, I'm turning it down to a simmer while I heat the oven to 350. Then I'm going to cover the pan with foil and place it in the oven for about 20 to 30 minutes.

So once the oven is ready to go, turn off your heat, add in your canned corn and mushrooms. Cover with foil and into the oven it goes.

About 25 minutes later, pull everything out and check your thickest piece for done-ness. If your chicken is done, then it is time to finish things off.
Turn your burner back on to medium heat and place pan over it. Remove chicken and let that rest and add in your peas. Taste your sauce to see if there needs to be any final adjustments. I added a little more garlic and pepper.

Return the chicken to the pan for serving (or transfer everything to a large serving platter or bowl.)
This is a great one pot dinner.

The Teenager isn't home at present, so I haven't gotten her input on this, but Hubby and I both enjoyed it. We are having a bit of a lazy day, overslept so we had a late breakfast, so we kind of skipped lunch and opted to just have an early dinner tonight, instead. Pretty much the only suggestion Hubby made is that, next time, I should try frying the potatoes a bit more, maybe using an o'brian style potato. So we shall see, but, for a first time recipe, and him not having a clue what a ragout was, this turned out really, really well. I suspect Teenager will have some issues as she's not fond of peas, but, that is her problem :)

This really is a delicious meal and I am definitely going to be making this again in the future. I've even seen a few recipes for doing this in the slow cooker, so I might have to give that a try in the future as well.

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