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Monday, July 11, 2011

Creamy Vegetable Stew...à la Erin :: Slow Cooker


A week to go before a trip, I realized that I had to eat through my fridge. I had a plethora of fresh fruit and vegetables. So, I pulled out everything that I knew I wouldn't be snacking on:

Hmm. So my solution became: Cook the Crap out of Everything.

I also had 4 boneless chicken thighs and two large chicken breasts in my fridge, and no room left in my freezer. So. Too much food. No room in the freezer. No time. Solution? Throw everything together in the slow cooker.

I prefer chicken thighs - the flavour and texture are much better than breasts. I added whatever vegetables I had left in my fridge that would be decent in a stew - I should emphasize that if I was making this with a little planning, the ingredients would probably be different. I would've added chopped baby carrots, probably traded the green pepper for roasted red, chopped up red potatoes, and some portobello mushrooms. In this case, I added 2 stalks of celery, 2 handfuls of cremini mushrooms, a green pepper, half a tomato, big head of broccoli, and a zucchini.

I rummaged through my cupboard searching for a can of cream of mushroom, but came across cream of celery first...so that went in. Then I added some spices. I thought about adding cinnamon, but I decided to make that a post-cooking addition...just in case. There was a lot of stew to mess up...



Randomness.

I stirred everything together, set the cooker on low and promptly forgot about it for 10 hours. A little longer than intended, but I went to bed, woke up late and literally ran 3km to my dentist appointment. As I sat in the chair, sweaty, open, and hygienist poking, I kept wondering about the state of my stew. Did it need more liquid? Did I put enough seasoning? Was it going to overcook, especially since I already browned the chicken? I teetered, and the hygienist kindly told me that she was almost done so there was nothing to be nervous about. I thought about telling her that I wasn't worried about cavities, but about my stew...

The soup was so ugly that I ran it through the Magic Bullet. Big improvement.
Cream the vegetables

I'm honestly super surprised. It's funny how randomness can turn into super tastiness. I think that I'll use this method to clean my fridge more often!

Chicken à la Erin
8 Generous Servings
Ingredients





The Basics


8 chicken thighs
2 shallots (large, or 3 small)
3 garlic cloves
1 pack cremini mushrooms(or button)*
2 portobello mushrooms
2 stalks celery
1 cup chopped baby carrots
1/2 roasted red pepper**
1 cup corn kernels/baby corn 
1 cup broccoli head
5 small red potatoes

*very similar
**or a whole, if you feel that saving half would be a waste 

Soup base
1/2 cup red wine
1 can cream of celery
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 cup water
cornstarch*


*optional


Spices*
2 bay leaves

2 tbsp fresh parsely or 1 tsp dried
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 tsp roasted red pepper & garlic
1/4 tsp oregano
1/8 tsp celery seed
1/8 tsp basil
2 tbsp fresh parsely or 1 tsp dried
Fresh cilantro for garnish 


*Limited spice rack? Try Italian seasoning.


Directions:
1.
Preheat a saucepan over medium-high heat then add olive/avocado oil and a single layer of chicken thighs. Patiently brown both sides, taking care to not move it until it unsticks itself. Do this in batches if necessary, placing chicken thighs in the slow cooker as you go.
2.
If you're health conscious, pour off some of the fat. Saute onions, garlic, celery, and mushrooms until the onions look transluscent and the mushrooms start to look a little sweaty. Tip it all into the slow cooker.
3.
Turn the heat off, and pour 1 cup of red wine in pan and scrape up the brown bits. Tip everything into the cooker 
4.
Add the vegetables, cream of celery, chicken stock, and spices. Stir, give it a taste and adjust if you so wish. You may want to add 1 tsp of salt.
5.
Set slow cooker on low for 6-8 hours
6.
Thicken with cornstarch/gravy browner if necessary, turning the cooker on high and adding a spoonful at a time
7.

Garnish with chopped hazelnuts, mushroom (I used portobello), and celery. Other nice garnish ideas includes chopped cilantro, parsley croûtons, or crusty, toasted French bread. A drizzle of avocado oil was so good!



Freezes very well, and perfect for winter lunches and dinners.



3 comments:

orthodontist melbourne said...

It amazes me how much Asian infusion is on this practically Australian dish. The amount of herbs, bay, oregano, celery, and basil are just a feast to the senses! Good job!

cheap orthodontics said...

That's a lot of ingredients. The cooking part though looks simple enough with the result looking so delicious. Two thumbs up on this recipe.

Geoff Granfield said...

It looks so tempting but I'm worried that feasting on those dishes may be counterproductive to what my sydney teeth whitening dentists have cautioned me to eat.

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