There are certain dishes when made and eaten just set your soul at ease. They comfort and they fortify. That's what a big pot of stew does.
Perhaps stews evoke these feelings due to the process involved that results in succulent morsels and a sauce/gravy brimming with incredibly deep flavor from all of the ingredients. Such stews give you pause, they force you to slow down – to prepare them and to enjoy them.
A stew means different things for different people depending on where you are from, but for the purposes of this column, a stew means seasoned meat or poultry cooked low and slow with liquid and some flavorings that also gives color – burnt sugar, browning, tomato paste, tomato sauce, or annatto (achiote, a Caribbean spice).
One of the many things that's great about a stew is that it does not require expensive cuts of meats or poultry, actually, the cheaper the cuts, the more flavorful the stew. And you can add so many other things to a stew – vegetables, beans, peas, potatoes, and dumplings. It is a hearty dish that can feed a large family or a crowd. What's great about a stew is that the next day or the day after, it is even better!
Serves 4 – 5
10 chicken drumsticks or thighs
3 tablespoons green seasoning (a Caribbean relish)
Salt and pepper to taste
3 tablespoons oil
1 cup diced onions
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 tablespoon chopped thyme
1 tablespoon tomato paste
water, chicken or vegetable stock
chopped parsley or thinly sliced green onions to garnish (optional)
1. Wash and pat chicken dry.
2. Add chicken to a large bowl along with green seasoning and salt and pepper to taste. Rub seasoning into chicken, cover and let marinate at room temperature for half an hour (you can opt to marinate longer or overnight in the refrigerator).
3. Heat oil in a large pot on medium heat and brown chicken in batches then setaside.
4. If there is too much oil in the pot after browning the chicken, remove all but 3 tablespoons.
5. Toss in onions, garlic and thyme, season with salt and pepper; reduce heat to low and let cook until the onions are softened.
6. Push the onion mixture to one side of the pot; add the tomato paste smearing itwith the back of the spoon on the vacant part of the pot. Toast the tomato paste for 2 to 3 minutes by smearing and turning it a few times.
7. Mix the onion mixture with the tomato paste and cook together for 1 minute.
8. Raise heat to medium high and add back the chicken to the pot along with any drippings or juice from the chicken. Mix together and cook for a minute.
9. Pour in enough water or stock to come up to the same level as the chicken (but not to cover it).
10. Cover pot and bring it to a boil, when the pot comes to a boil, reduce the heat to medium, move the lid partially over the pot and let cook until the chicken is cooked through and the liquid has reduced to a sauce consistency you desire. Taste for seasoning (salt) and adjust.