Chicken Piccata Stew

A bowl of chicken stew

Today’s Musings:
It’s a new year and time to shove 2020 out the window, welcoming a fresh start.  The following handful of posts are a series, written a lifetime ago, that track my journey from a painful breakup with a man I adored, to the shock of discovering the truth behind his mask, to glimpsing the depths of his depravity, and finally acknowledging my own error in blindly trusting him. This tale ended long ago, but only now am I ready to disclose it – and perhaps help others who find themselves in a similar situation. Thank you to those who shared evidence and convinced me to tell my story.

 Chapter Four

To His Next Partner:

Please don’t hesitate to IM me!

I’ll be there for you after your first disagreement when he seems overly sensitive to a minor misunderstanding. Or after the next few, when he’s unjustifiably upset and leaves you wondering what happened to your perfect relationship and near-perfect boyfriend. Or after the next wave, when he begins gaslighting you, making you feel crazy, and he questions your character. When these arguments last for days – or even weeks – and he throws everything you ever did or said back in your face, unwilling to listen to reason and bringing you to tears. When you have to be the first to apologize just to end the battles, and you justify staying with him because you’ve convinced yourself the good times outweigh the bad on this roller coaster of emotion.

Please don’t hesitate to IM me once you notice he’s detached about things going on in your life that aren’t about him. After you discover he lied – about almost everything, including his feelings for you. And you’re shown the salacious photos he’s sent to other women that he swore were “just friends” – and hear of the intimate items he requested and received from them.  When you’re crushed by an account of his behavior while you were out of the country  – and when you discover he’s already lining up his next partners – some of them possibly rumpling his sheets while you still share his bed. Once you learn about the one he calls his “work wife” and the purpose of his “afternoon naps.” When you finally comprehend why the neighbor above glares at him and what she’s probably witnessed.

Please don’t hesitate to IM me when you wonder where that cute, charming, sensitive, boyish partner has gone. When friends tell you he’s a narcissist and you protest, “Impossible!  Every woman claims their Ex is a narcissist and, besides, narcissists are flashy, strutting peacocks and, if I know one thing, he is not that!” and then you Google something called “covert narcissism” and the description stops your heart; when you read words like “victim” and “emotional abuse” and you finally understand.

IM me – or call me, because I’ve been there and I can help you heal.

Additional Reading:
Click here for more information on recognizing a narcissist.
Click here for more information on the “work wife” role in a narcissist’s life.

Today’s Recipe:
Today’s musings took a great deal out of me; made me queasy, in fact, to splay myself in front of you, to hit the “post” button.  I can’t bear to follow them up with an overly complicated dessert recipe.  What today needs is something simple, something homey, something comforting like this Chicken Piccata Stew, which has been a favorite of mine for years.


Chicken Piccata Stew

This stew is light, hearty, and tangy, reminiscent of chicken piccata.


Ingredients

  • 1 pound boned, skinned chicken thighs, rinsed and patted dry
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, liberally seasoned with salt and pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon capers, drained and minced
  • Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon, separated
  • ½ cup white wine (or water if you do not have wine available)
  • 1 ¾ cups chicken broth
  • 1 lb. Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1” cubes
  • 1 8 oz. pkg. quartered frozen artichoke hearts, thawed
  • 1 bunch roughly chopped Italian parsley
  • 1 cup pitted green olives, such as castelvetrano

Directions

  1. Cut each thigh into 3 chunks and coat in seasoned flour.
  2. Heat oil in a large pot over high heat. Add chicken in a single layer and cook, turning once, until browned,. Transfer to a plate.
  3. Reduce heat to medium. Add garlic, capers, and lemon zest and stir just until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add wine and simmer, scraping up browned bits until reduced. Add broth, potatoes, and chicken with any accumulated juices and return to a simmer. Cover and cook 10 minutes.
  4. Add artichokes to pot and stir. Cover and cook until potatoes are tender when pierced, about another 10 minutes. Stir in parsley, olives, and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Slightly adapted from Sunset’s Chicken Stew with Olives and Lemon.                     

Today’s Tip:
When a recipe calls for chicken, I almost exclusively use thighs. They are juicier and more flavorful than most other options.  

Chicken stew with mushroom & onions

French Chicken Stew
A grey and drizzly day like today calls for a classic, satisfying and hearty stew like this French-inspired chicken version. The best part – plenty of leftovers for lunch this week.


Chicken stew with mushroom & onions

A classic combination of chicken, mushrooms and onions in a hearty sauce.

Ingredients

  • 6 strips bacon, chopped
  • 1 lb. baby portabella mushrooms, quartered
  • 12 oz. frozen baby onions, thawed
  • 3 lbs. skinless, boneless chicken thighs
  • ¼ cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • ¼ cup flour
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 2 Tablespoons tarragon, minced

Directions

  1. In a large pot of Dutch oven, sauté bacon until crisp. Remove bacon from pot. Add mushrooms and onions and sauté until golden and beginning to brown. While cooking, add a pinch of salt to help mushrooms release their liquid. Once browned, remove from pot.
  2. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper and add to the pot. Brown chicken on both sides, about 4 minutes per side. Cook chicken in batches if needed – do not overcrowd pot. Set chicken aside. Add red wine vinegar and butter to pot. Once butter has melted, sprinkle with flour. Cook about a minute until flour begins to brown. Add chicken stock and cook until bubbling, scraping up flavorful browned bits from bottom of the pot.
  3. Return chicken and any accumulated juices to pot, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove lid, add bacon, mushrooms and onions and cook uncovered for 15 minutes more.
  4. If needed, remove chicken, increase heat and cook sauce until reduced and thickened. Return chicken to pot and season with salt and pepper. Serve stew over egg noodles or rice, sprinkled with tarragon.

Chicken and Choux Dumplings

Chicken and Pate a choux dumplings

When cooking in a secluded cabin in the woods, a chef must be content with improvisation. This dish began as chicken pot pie, but upon discovering that a fully stocked cabin kitchen doesn’t necessarily include an oven-proof baking dish, I resolved to switch pot pie for a stove-top version of chicken and dumplings. Without the essential baking powder in my limited pantry, the dumplings posed another problem. My culinary training to the rescue – milk, check. Butter, check. Flour and salt, check. Eggs, check. Pate a choux dumplings! The resulting dish is rich, satisfying, homey, and the perfect accompaniment to a stay in a cozy cabin.


Chicken and Choux Dumplings

Here’s a recipe where my culinary improvisation went completely right

Ingredients

  • ½ cup whole milk
  • 2 oz. unsalted butter
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup flour + 2 Tablespoons
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 Tablespoons grated Parmesan
  • 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite size pieces
  • 2 celery stalks, finely diced
  • 1 carrot, finely diced
  • ½ small onion, finely diced
  • 1 cup crimini mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 2 – 2 ½ cups chicken broth

Directions

  1. Simmer together milk, butter and salt until butter is fully melted, but mixture has not come to a boil. Add ½ cup flour and stir until flour is fully incorporated and dough pulls away from the sides of the pan. Cool dough in pan by running  the sides of the pan under cold water. Beat in eggs one at a time. Stir in Parmesan. Set aside. Heat a small saucepan with 2 cups water until boiling.
  2. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Sauté chicken in a bit of oil in a large skillet until brown and cooked through. Remove chicken and add celery, carrot, and onion. Sauté until softened. Add mushrooms and sauté until mushrooms have softened. Add peas and cook until vegetables are beginning to brown. Add vegetables to chicken. Add a bit more oil to pan and add 2 Tablespoons flour. Stir until flour is golden brown and bubbly. Add broth and cook until slightly thickened. Return chicken, vegetables and accumulated juices to skillet, reduce heat and simmer until heated through. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Meanwhile, drop small teaspoons of dough into boiling water. Remove dumplings when they have risen to the top of the water. Drain on paper towels. To serve, ladle chicken into bowls and garnish with two or three warm dumplings.

sedona cabin

My cozy cabin in the Oak Creek forest – Butterfly Garden Inn