Last evening my white farmhouse kitchen looked like we were preparing a stone soup for dinner. Four generations of family members wandered in and out of the room, most staying to contribute something to a hearty chicken stew I was attempting to make for the first time.
Some were stirring the pot at the stove while others were retrieving ingredients (and wine) from the refrigerator and basement.
Others were using their culinary skills to chop numerous vegetables and herbs while a few smaller family members stood by inspecting the progress.
Many of us took turns with the challenging task of keeping a certain eight month old happy and out of mischief.
Those with less experience in the kitchen were in charge of being the sommelier and making lively conversation.
There were a couple of us in charge of adding diced ingredients to the pot when it was time.
While others just hung around looking handsome and waiting to be sent outside to gather eggs and feed the livestock.
As for me, I was the photographer, of course. I was all prepared to make the entire dinner myself, as I do most of the time. It was a pleasant reprieve to simply be the one overseeing it all and delegating various tasks to everyone else. In the midst of the organized chaos, though, I forgot to take any pictures of the finished product, which got an excellent rating from almost every family member. All I've got is the image in the cookbook above. There weren't even any leftovers to heat up and photograph today. I'll conclude by saying that the phrase "There are too many cooks in the kitchen" just didn't apply. Each of the eleven family members who were present contributed something and turned out to be the perfect number for making this stew.
Adapted from the Cooking Light: Top-Rated Recipes special edition:
Chicken, Apple, & Butternut Stew (p. 56)
Peel & cube a butternut squash, and peel and dice a bunch of parsnips, and set aside.
Cut up 2 pounds of boneless chicken thighs into bite-size pieces and sprinkle with 1/2 tsp. salt & 1/4 tsp. pepper. Put 1 Tbsp. olive oil into a large pot and heat over medium heat. Add half the chicken and saute until browned. Repeat with remaining chicken, then remove to a plate or bowl.
Chop 2 onions & 3 Tbsp. fresh sage. Add another Tbsp. olive oil to pot and add the onion, sage, and 2 tsp. dried ginger. Cook 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add the cubed squash and the diced parsnips. Cook another 2 minutes. Sprinkle the vegetables with 5 Tbsp. of flour. Cook 1 minute, stirring to prevent sticking.
Stir in 3 cups apple cider and 3 cups of unsalted chicken stock. Stir in the cooked chicken, 1 tsp. salt and 1 tsp. pepper. Bring to a simmer. Reduce heat, partially cover, and simmer for 25 minutes.
Peel and chop 3-4 cups of Granny Smith apples. After the stew has simmered for 25 minutes, add the apples and cook for another 10 minutes.
* I probably added a bit more salt and pepper to this. I didn't actually measure it. We also wanted to make the stew thicker, so after adding the cider and stock, I dissolved 1 Tbsp. of corn starch in 1/4 cup of water and stirred that in. There was so much talk and activity going on that it's a really good thing that I wasn't making this myself because it would have taken me hours to concentrate and get all the prep work done. It was definitely more fun to read the recipe aloud, sip some wine, take some pictures, and hold our grandson.