Off-Duty

15 02 2010

Among my favorite meals are those my husband Josh makes.  Not only are they generally quite delicious, but when he cooks, I don’t have to put any thought as to what to put on the table, I get to work or play with Masher or take a bubble bath while he is cooking, and — at the end of our tasty meal — I get to put my dish in the dishwasher and walk away from the table.  You see, we have a sort of unspoken rule in our house about dishwashing duties:  “You cook, you clean.”  But furthermore, Josh is one of that rare breed that CLEANS AS HE GOES.  Yeah, I don’t really get it either.  In fact, I almost feel as though I haven’t done my job in the kitchen properly unless there are at least four well-encrusted pots or bowls on the stove and counter by the time I’m through cooking, and I actually look forward to the quiet time alone once the meal is through, just doing all of the dishes and wiping down the whole kitchen.  But Josh has it all done by the time we’re sitting down to eat, and as a result I don’t even have to feel bad about clean-up when I’m through.  Off-duty really means off-duty.

As I’m writing this post, I can still taste tonight’s dinner, linguine aglio e olio (garlic and olive oil) with roasted cauliflower and golden beets and toasted walnut pieces.  Masher and I were shoveling it in like little piggies.  But unfortunately we ate too fast to take pictures, so instead I’m writing about Day 4 of Snowtopia (my name for the week-long snow break we’ve just had — I thought it was great!).  On Day 4, Josh made one of his specialties, a tomato-based chicken stew.  It’s another one of Masher’s favorites, it’s got such great veggies and protein, and it’s easy to make anytime because you can make it with mostly pantry ingredients and things you probably always have in the house and add whatever you like to it.  Here’s the basic recipe:

Josh’s Chick-Bean Stew

  • 2 Tbsps olive oil
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 large cans of whole or chopped tomatoes with juice
  • 3-4 cups of chicken stock, broth, or water (add water or 3rd can of tomatoes to achieve desired consistency)
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, torn into pieces (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
  • 2 chicken breast with ribs (about 1 1/2 pounds total)
  • 4+ cups of dried beans, cooked to desired consistency (Josh used chickpeas (garbanzo beans), but you can substitute cannellini, kidney, navy, or just about any other kind of bean)

Heat the oil in a heavy pot over medium heat. Add the celery, carrot, garlic, and onion.  Saute the vegetables until the onion is translucent, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Stir in the tomatoes, broth, basil, tomato paste, bay leaf, and thyme. Add the chicken breasts; press to submerge.  Bring the cooking liquid to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer gently uncovered until the chicken is almost cooked through, turning the chicken breasts over and stirring the mixture occasionally, about 25 minutes. Using tongs, transfer the chicken breasts to a work surface and cool for 5 minutes. Discard the bay leaf. Add the beans to the pot and simmer until the liquid has reduced into a stew consistency, about 10-20 minutes.

Discard the skin and bones from the chicken breasts. Shred or cut the chicken into bite- size pieces. Return the chicken meat to the stew. Bring the stew just to a simmer. Season again with salt and pepper if needed.

We really enjoy the stew over farro or brown short-grain rice with a crunchy baguette.  It tastes great!  Just ask Masher.

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