Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Beauty and the Beast

One of my favorite cookbooks is BISTRO COOKING by Patricia Wells. It’s a beauty of a cookbook, one that should be in everyone’s collection. Whenever I feel the need for comfort food, I’ll look in one of her books. Especially for these chilly fall days when you don’t want to spend hours in the kitchen,but want to eat something that tastes like you have.

Enter THE BEAST. I saw this fabulous AllClad Slow Cooker in the Williams-Sonoma catalog maybe six weeks ago and the lustation began.

I would wake up in the middle of the night and imagine it in my kitchen. I would be surfing the internet and the only recipes that would pop up would be slow cooker recipes. So, when Groom and I toddled towards ELA…extreme Lower Alabama..to visit with his divine brother and mother, little did I know that as a reward for being the love of his life that THE BEAST would enter my world. Poor Groom, I have a tendency to overreact when I see something..latch on to it and drive it into the ground til I get it. “Honey, can’t you just see this in our kitchen?“ “Look at that cute sweater…it’s a steel color..kinda like the cooker in that catalog? “How are the shrimp cooked; are they cooked on top of the stove in a CAST IRON pan” And so on. I am all about instant gratification. I can’t help it. It’s genetic, according to my mother. Anyway, we ended up at the Williams-Sonoma’s store in Daphne, Alabama with me clinging simultaneously to Groom and to THE BEAST. I call it THE BEAST because it's the biggest thing on my countertop . It’s seven and half quarts of pure stainless steel and cast iron love. It goes in the regular oven, on top of the stove, into the dishwasher. It’s amazing. And it cooks damn good as well!!!
So, logically last Sunday when it was not that cold but not that hot, we fired up the fireplace in the den, watched the Campion series and fed THE BEAST my take on Patricia Wells’s “Bouillabaisse de Poulet Chez Tante Paulette“…or what we call:

Sunday Chicken Stew

This does have about five hours marinating time, so plan ahead. I’m sure it would be great without the marinating time, but it’s so good, make the time.
Combine in a large Dutch oven or your slow cooker insert:
1 28 ounce can diced San Marzano tomatoes, don’t drain
2 big onions, peeled and quartered and slice in half moons
8 fat garlic cloves peeled and smashed
3 large fennel bulbs with maybe about half of the stalk with the fennel fronds chopped
Extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup Pernod..going for the licorice flavor to complement the fennel
Big pinch of saffron
4-5 Turkish bay leaves
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper eyeball how much you want to use
Fresh thyme…or dried if you can’t find fresh. Use five or six good sized pieces of fresh thyme or two big pinches dried thyme
4 or 5 organic chicken thighs, bone in and skin removed
3 large chicken breasts, bone in and skin removed
Ok, so put all of this in the large Dutch oven and mix with your hands. It’s the only way to be sure that the seasonings and flavors mix well.
Then cover it and put in fridge for five hours at least.
One hour or so before you want to eat (or three hours if you are using a slow cooker) add to Dutch oven or slow cooker :
Small bag baby Yukon gold potatoes, scrubbed and cut in half
2-3 cups chicken stock

Put on stove and cook over medium heat for an hour to an hour and a half. (Or put in slow cooker and set timer for three hours and cook on high.)
Test chicken, out of pot, to be sure cooked and juices run clear.
Serve in large flat bowl..with veggie and broth first and a piece of chicken on top. Sprinkle with parsley. This will serve at 4-5 people maybe even 6 generously.



claudia said...

now that right there... that's quite the apparatus! may you use it in good health and make many memorable meals with it.

the chicken sounds amazing...

Mary Coleman said...

Thanks Claudia. Both are quite amazing! By the way..your farro dish looks so so good. I need to try that.

Terry B said...

Claudia, apparatus is exactly the perfect term for this device. And Mary, what a lovely blog--delicious food and great, entertaining writing. Thanks for stopping by mine so I could discover yours.

Mary Coleman said...

Thank you, Terry! What kind words.