Oh the weather outside is frightful, but my stove is so delightful…since we’ve no place to go, LET IT SNOW LET IT SNOW LET IT SNOW!!!
I know my happiness over winter may not be appreciated as we near the OMG WHEN WILL THIS END portion of the season, as such I will allow you to lob a snowball at my head and I won’t even be offended; I just can’t be mad at any season that inspires delicious, slow cooked meals. I mean, yeah, I’m sick of everything on earth being covered in a thin layer of salt and my dogs would probably be a lot happier if they didn’t have to do the ice-in-my-paws dance while wandering in the yard, but then you walk in the house to the smells of a something delicious on the stove and all is forgiven…well, until you have to go back outside again, anyway.
I feel like chicken gets the short end of the stick, unfairly, when it comes to stew. It just isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. Unlike it’s red meat friends, chicken doesn’t take hours to cook, less than an hour for bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, and chicken thigh meat in an hour is just as tender and perfect as beef in 4-6 hours. I like that math, especially on a school night.
Not all chicken is created equal – this and recipes like it are not designed for chicken breasts. White meat chicken, breast meat, is meant to be cooked until done, briefly rested and then served – it is how they are their most tender and delicious to eat. Cooking to death (overcooking), even in liquid, equals dry and chewy. The meat wants to shred and it is just, well, unpleasant. So don’t do that. Chicken thighs, on the other hand, love to be slowly simmered (or roasted, or grilled). They absorb flavor, get more tender as they go and as an added bonus create their own stock while they simmer away, enriching your sauce or soup. I will allow for the substitution of boneless skinless thighs if you’d rather not deal with the picking, but it really is notably better with chicken cooked on the bone.
My goal was a One-Pot meal, doable on a school night, that tasted & looked like a feast. Chicken Hunter’s Stew – loaded with veggies, simmered in Brooklyn Winter Ale and topped with Bells Winter White Cheddar Biscuits. Brooklyn Winter is malty, very mildly spiced and perfect as the backbone for our gravy. The Bells Winter is the perfect pairing to make some beer bread-style cheddar drop biscuits that straddle the line between biscuit and tender dumpling. All easily doable after work with minimal dishes. It need not be a Sunday in order to eat like one!
Brooklyn Winter Chicken Hunter’s Stew
- 8 pack Bone-In, Skin-On Chicken Thighs
- Salt & Pepper
- 6 slices Thick Sliced Bacon, diced
- 1 large Spanish Onion, medium dice
- 4 medium/large Carrots, medium dice
- 4 ribs Celery, medium dice
- 3 or 4 cloves Garlic, smashed & chopped
- 1 Tbsp Herbs de Provence or Dried Thyme
- 2 Bay Leaves
- A lot of Fresh Ground Black Pepper
- Kosher Salt
- 12oz bottle Brooklyn Winter Ale
- 1 quart Chicken Stock
- 1 large Sweet Potato, peeled & medium diced
- 2 – 3 Regular Potatoes, scrubbed & medium diced
- 2-3 cups Frozen Peas
- 1 cup Heavy Cream
- 3 Tbsp Dijon Mustard
- ¼ cup Cornstarch/Water Slurry if needed
Heat your very favorite Dutch oven pot over medium high heat, add a drizzle of olive oil and let it get hot. Season the thighs on both sides with salt and pepper. Sear in 2 batches, until the skin is crisp and the fat is rendered out. Remove from the pot and set on the side to go back in later.
While the chicken is rendering down cut your bacon and do your veggie prep. When the chickens are all done get the bacon in there and render it until it is crisp over medium heat. When it’s all crisp and perfect up your heat a bit and go in with your onion, carrot and celery – saute for a few minutes, letting the onion loose that raw smell then add the garlic. Continue to saute until the onions are softened and the garlic starts to smell sweet. Season with salt and a generous amount of black pepper. Add the herbs and bay leaf and cook for another couple minutes. Deglaze your pot with the bottle of Brooklyn, scrape all the awesome from the bottom while the beer reduces by half. Add the stock and thighs. Bring back up to a simmer and cover. It can stay on the stove at this point or go into a heated 350 oven. Let it cook for 30-45 minutes.
When the chicken is well cooked remove the lid and get back onto a medium burner. Use a slotted spoon to remove the chickens and all their parts from the stew and set on a plate to cool a bit to be shredded up. Add the cream, mustard and peas. Bring the stew to a simmer and taste. Adjust your seasoning and thicken with the slurry and cook out for a couple minutes. Crank your oven to 400.
Mix up the biscuit dough while the chicken chills out a bit. Then shred the chicken, discarding all bones, skin and funky stuff. Put the shredded meat back into the pot and stir it up. Top the stew with drop biscuits, 10 – 12 of them, right on top of the stew to mostly cover the top. Get the pot back into the oven and bake for 20- 25 minutes, until the biscuit top is golden brown and cooked through. Brush the biscuit top with melted butter (or garlic butter if you’ve got some and are feeling extra Red Lobster-y) when they come out and serve to hungry people immediately. The leftovers are also bomb heated up in the oven covered with some foil.
Bell’s Winter White Cheddar Biscuits
Grown up version of RL Cheddar Biscuits. Can also be baked on the side as drop biscuits. Or rolled and cut like regular biscuits, though the dough will need a tick more flour to do that easily.
- 3 cups AP Flour
- 3 Tbsp Baking Powder
- 3 tsp Salt
- 3 Tbsp Sugar
- 2 cups Good, Sharp Shredded Cheddar
- ½ cup Shredded Asiago or Parmesan
- 1 Tbsp Granulated Garlic
- 1 Tbsp Dried Basil or Oregano
- 2 Tbsp Dried Parsley
- ¼ cup Melted Butter
- 16oz Can Bell’s Winter White
Mix all the dry ingredients and the cheese in a bowl. Add the butter and beer and fold together with a spatula to make an ugly, lumpy, dry batter/wet dough. Use spoons to drop in by ½-¾ cup sized blops on the stew or a parchment lined tray. Bake until done through and golden brown. Brush with melted butter, or garlic butter if you’re fancy, when out of the oven.