Fantabulous Fancy Chicken Stew

Have you made my Fancy Chicken Stew yet?

I've been making this lovely stew for years, and I posted about it being my favorite way to use a slow-cooker before, but I think it is worth re-mentioning how fantastic this chicken stew really is.

It's elegant enough to serve to company, but simple enough to make at least once a week. And, it is the one dish where leftovers are okay in my book. (I know!) The flavors just get better and better.

I didn't make this stew all summer, and now that it is soup season, it will be in full rotation. It always gets rave reviews -- a delightfully rustic chicken soup, with the lemons and olives adding a bright, briny flavor. You might be skeptical about the lemon and olives (not to mention all of that garlic) but I promise you, it's really quite delicious.

Better than delicious, actually. Scrumptious might be a better word. But don't take my word for it. Try it yourself:

Fancy Chicken Stew
12 oz. baby carrots, halved lengthwise
3/4 lb micro or fingerling potatoes, halved
6 fresh rosemary sprigs
18 cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed
1/2 shallot, minced
6-8 oz. pitted Picholine olives*
3-4 lb chicken, raised without antibiotics
2-3 large lemons
2 cups chicken stock or broth (not low-sodium)
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
Salt/Pepper to taste
Herbes de Provence
4 TBS unsalted butter

*Note: If you can't find Picholine olives, try another green olive that's equally citrusy -- I've found those taste the best in this recipe, but I've also used a mixture of black/pink/green Greek olives with fine results. Just don't use stuffed olives, canned black olives, or olives that are marinated in oil, and you should be good to go.

Minimal MESS/ingredients/clean-up: Category 2

To Do:
  • Fill the bottom of your slow cooker pot with the the carrots, potatoes, three rosemary sprigs, six peeled and smashed garlic cloves, the minced shallot, and the olives.
  • Prep the chicken (remove gizzards, etc. if included) and pat dry. Stuff with 12 peeled garlic cloves, 3 rosemary sprigs, and 2-3 lemons (seeded and cut into wedges), then tie it up tight. My chicken was a beautiful, local heritage chicken, raised without antibiotics from Epicurean Farms in Lancaster, PA.
And, can we just take a minute to acknowledge the world's largest lemon? 
My hands are pretty small, but holy moly!

  • Place the chicken, breast-side down on top of the carrots/potatoes/olives and then cover with the stock, lemon juice, a pinch or two of salt/pepper, and the herbs. Dot all-over with the butter.
  • Cover with the lid and set the cooker to the 6-hour setting (high).
  • When it is ready, carefully remove the chicken -- it will most likely fall right off of your fork, so have a cutting board and bowl close by and be ready to catch the stuffing. 
  • Carefully remove the meat and discard the string/stuffing/skin. You can toss the bones, or keep them in the freezer for a future batch of homemade chicken stock, like I do. The chicken should be so tender that it will shred itself, but if there you have any large pieces, chop them into bite-size pieces.
  • Fish out the rosemary sprigs and any large pieces of garlic and/or wandering pieces of lemon/stuffing from the stew pot and discard. Adjust seasonings to taste (more salt/pepper if needed).
  • Return the shredded chicken to the stew and stir to incorporate before serving. (If not serving right away, just reheat in a heavy-bottomed soup pot over low heat.)
  • Ladle big scoops of meat/veggies/olives and broth into bowls. Serve with plenty of crusty bread for sopping up all of the juices, and a side salad if you feel like making one. Otherwise, a bowl of this and a hunk of bread is all you need.

It's the perfect thing for a chilly fall day...I hope you try it!