How can I salvage bland chicken stew?
I made this last night in the slow cooker- http://www.realsimple.com/food-recipe... and it came out pretty bland- edible, but very "eh." Now I have a ton left over and I'd hate to see it go to waste. Does anybody have any ideas of how to use the leftovers to make it more interesting? I was thinking making some interesting sauce or somehow turning it into a pot pie or casserole- all suggestions and tips are welcome!
I agree w/ what Caroline said about the recipe for the crockpot, and would even have sauteed the squash first, letting it brown. Despite your searing the chicken for extra flavor, there isn't much seasoning at all in it, not even salt. If you want to make a chicken pot pie, I'd strain it, remove the bones from the chicken and add them back to the broth and continue simmering w/ more spices until you get a good stock. Then make a roux, thicken the broth and add everything back in.
Boy, even the picture looks bland :) I second the idea of fennel seed. Seems like I use it all the time. Also the suggestion for canned tomatoes. I love Cholula in things cause you get some zip but it's really not hot. I add garbanzo beans to lots of things; in this case it could add some texture. How about some kale? I've had a couple of stews turn out like yours and I just kept adding ingredients til the taste satisfied me. I call it Kitchen Sink Stew because I put everything in except the kitchen sink. Can't remember all the ingredients but is chicken the only really solid component at this point? Could you remove the chicken, blend the rest of the soup and add the chicken back? It's pouring rain here this morning so a bowl of stew (for breakfast!) sound great to me!
re: c oliver
you guys are fantastic! i did sear the meat first (i should have added that) but it was still very "eh" (even though i used good quality organic chicken). however, you guys have totally given me some hope that i'll be able to make something worthwhile out of it. i LOVE the japanese curry idea especially! i'll definitely have to make a run to the local asian grocery store this afternoon.
Now, this is interesting! A full DOZEN peeled cloves of garlic and it's still mild and flavorless? Well, it can happen, but it is funny.
I have looked over the recipe, and while I'm fairly sure what I'm about to say will raise a hue of angry outcries, in my experience, you cannot just dump all of the ingredients into a pot (slow cooker or not) and expect to come up with a rich, complex end product. Using the same ingredients, I would sautee the seasoned chicken first to brown the skin (added flavor, and I might even dredge it in a little flour to help thicken the sauce). Remove from pan, reduce the heat greatly. Cut the amount of garlic by at least half, mince fine and soften it in the chicken oil along with the onions (quarter through the stem end so they hold together while cooking), the ZEST of the orange (juice reserved) and the thyme leaves (off the stalk!) until fragrant and fully softened. Add in the honey first, then add the chicken, the potatoes and finally all of the remaining ingredients EXCEPT the squash. Cooking the squash the same amount of time as everything else will reduce it to mush. Bring to a gentle boil, then reduce to a simmer for probably about 45 minutes. Taste and correct seasonings if needed. Then add the squash and continue simmering until the squash is fully cooked, but not mush. Now serve it with a little chopped parsley as garnish.
But that is obviously a correction for the future. Right now you have this bland, flavorless concoction on your hands. Things I would do: First off, if the broth is too brothy, I would thicken it with a little buerre manie or with a light roux made with olive oil. Then, if the chicken flavor needs to be enhanced, I would use a buillion type product. I very much like Tones Chicken Base, which I pick up at Sam's Club. It is a thick paste and gives me full control over how much chicken flavor I want to add. Then, if the orange flavor needs a little pick-me-up, I would use either orange zest or orange marmalade. If it's still in need of identity for your taste buds, maybe a bit of Worcestershire sauce and/or a little spice picante, such as a dash of cayenne or a bit of Tobasco or Sriracha.
Couldn't access the page, so I'm not sure what you've got.
Here's what I would do...
Add some canned tomatoes (whole - then crush them, or crushed tomatoes).
Half a bottle of red wine (or if you really have a lot - a whole bottle). Cook it down to 1/4 of what was started.
And some fennel seed.
Maybe a little rosemary, but the fennel should be the leading spice.
Should be delicious. This is a good italian recipe for braised rabbit, but since rabbit taste a lot of like chicken - it's a perfect substitute. And let's face it, not every eat rabbit.
Combining the ideas already suggested, I'd add a boullion cube, thyme, sherry and cream. Simmer gently and drop in some dumplings.
Baking Powder Dumplings:
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon table salt
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley leaves, chives(or scallion greens), dill, or tarragon (optional)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup milk
You can drop the dumplings in by spoonfuls, or I prefer to pat it out and cut into strips. Lay out the dumplings on top of the simmering stew and cover. Depending on the size of the dumplings they'll take 10-15 minutes to cook through.