Chicken Stew with Spinach and Mushrooms
This stew is comfort food elevated a notch. Adapted from a Fine Cooking Magazine recipe by Tony Rosenfeld, this preserves all the goodness of that recipe but is just a little simpler in preparation. It is chock full of hearty chicken, potatoes, and mushrooms, splashed with sherry, and brightened with wilted spinach, and it is a full meal on its own. While it is certainly good enough for company, I make it for myself. Sometimes a good meal is all I need.
The bacon in this dish is really used for it's fat. You can crumble the bacon on top as a garnish, but we prefer not to because I we it overpowers the dish. If you want to use the bacon in your meal, you can crumble it over quick side salad with balsamic dressing.
1 4 oz package fresh mushrooms, sliced (I use white mushrooms)
1/4 cup olive oil
2 slices of thick-cut bacon
6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 large yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, smashed and then chopped fine
1/4 cup dry sherry
1 large gold potatoes, peeled and diced
1 whole springs and 1 1/2 tsp chopped thyme
1 1/2 cups low-salt chicken broth
2 tbsp sherry vinegar
1 tbsp flour
1 tbsp butter
2 cups chopped baby spinach
Fresh ground black pepper
In a dutch oven or soup pot, cook the bacon on each side until crisp. Remove bacon and set aside for another use. Sprinkle the chicken with salt and a few grinds of pepper and brown both sides in the pan in a single layer (you may need to do 2 batches), adding oil if necessary. Add the onion and the garlic, and two pinches of salt and sautee in the pan until golden, scraping up any brown bits from the bacon. Add the mushrooms and cook until they are softened.
Add the sherry and reduce to almost syrup, thoroughly deglazing the pan if any bacon frond is still stuck to the bottom (2-3 minutes). Add the stock, chicken, potatoes, thyme, and vinegar. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook until potatoes are softened and chicken is thoroughly cooked about 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, add the butter and flour in a small saucepan and constantly whisk until the flour is toasted a light caramel color. About 15 minutes into cooking the stew, add this to thicken the stew.
When the stew is done, stir in the spinach and let it wilt in the pot, then add the thyme, stir a few times, and pour into a serving dish or individual plates or bowls. Sprinkle with panko, if desired, for a little crunch.