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Monday, August 1, 2011

Chicken stew

OK, some of you might call this chicken pastry. If you do, stop. My grandmother called it stew, not pastry, and you should too.

You need a pot. A large pot. I'm using the cast iron.

Grandmother would send Papa out to the backyard with his hatchet. You can try that if you have chickens in the yard. Mama would just buy a whole chicken from Food Lion. Normally, I would open a few cans of chicken, the kind they sell by the canned tuna. However, I have some frozen chicken tenders that I need to use. They're going in the pot.

Wings and backs make a better stew, and you can still find wings, but I have no idea where you'd get a pack of chicken backs these days. I also don't much hang around people who would refrain from comment over using chicken backs. Danged city people.

Now, cover the chicken with a lot of water. I added salt and olive oil. It's what I do.

Boil this mess for an hour or so. Then dip out the chicken.

I used the plastic spoon we found at Jordan Lake. You should too if you have one. Now cut the chicken into small pieces.

While you're cutting up the chicken, bring the pot back to a hard boil. You'll probably need to add some water also. Taste the broth, and add salt if you need it. Remember how Mama taught you it's a lot easier to put salt in than it is to take it out.

Put the chopped chicken back in the pot and let it boil a while.

While it pot is coming back to a hard boil, add some water to some plain flour so you can roll out some pastry. Yes, you may call this part pastry. I let Aunt Anne make my pastry.

She puts the pastry in a nice box. There are pieces of wax paper between the pastry strips. I love Aunt Anne.

Put the pastry strips in the boiling pot. One at the time! This is no time to get in a hurry. If you're that inpatient, you should go to Hardee's or something.

Keep the pot boiling as you add the pastry strips, and stir a lot to keep the strips from sticking together. Mama will tell you to drop the strips where the broth is boiling.

When you've added all the pastry, stir, boil, cut the heat way down, stir, add the lid, let it simmer a long while. Remember to stir frequently. You'll probably have to add more water.

It'll need to simmer about 30 to 45 minutes. The stirring will prevent the pastry from sticking to the bottom and burning. My daddy liked the burnt part best.

It's done.

You know what to do now.


The Crow said...

What you've shown is what my Mama called chicken and dumplings. Up here in Yankee land, that would be called slippery chicken pot pie. If they put it in the oven with a pie crust on top, they call it just pot pie. Here, chicken stew has BIG chunks of vegetables in broth with chicken still on the bone, though cut into smaller pieces than what the chicken was when it died for you gustatory delights. You have to be careful when you order chicken dishes around here. Up here, chicken and dumplings is made with spoonfulls of biscuit dough dropped into the boiling broth, then simmered covered with a lid for twenty minutes, then simmered uncovered for another twenty minutes.

I much prefer Mama's/your Gran's recipe, although the stuff with biscuit dough is not too shabby.

Oh, and if you mention chicken oysters up here, most folks don't know what you're talking about, but if you show them where they are on the chicken's (or turkey's) back, they agree that they are some of the best parts of the fowls.

That pot of yumminess is making me salivate all over the keyboard and the front of my blouse. Goodness, I wish we were neighbors!

Jim Penny said...

I can get into the small chunks of biscuit dough, which are what I'd call dumplings. The trick is for them to be large enough to stand up to the cooking and small enough to sop up broth through the middle. I'm unlikely to ever get them that precise.

My papa called the chicken back the "saddle," and he would seek it out of the pile of fried chicken. I like backs for the flavor they bring the stew, but they are a little harder to find around here. Of course, I said that at lunch, and my brother then mentioned how he has them on sale this week.