Spring’s here, and she demands parsley. This stew is healthy and easy and colorful and aromatic, light enough for the sun streaming in your kitchen window and rich enough to stave away any pesky winter winds asserting their waning presence. Kalamatas would be sublime; the green manzanillas I used were just dandy.
Make it with free-range chicken and you won’t regret it -I swear their liberty seeps merrily into the broth, saturating the cauliflower with wild chickeny depth you’d never squeeze out of cardboard-y 10-packs of pechuga.
Greek Chicken Stew With Cauliflower and Olives
adapted from The New York Times.
extra virgin olive oil
1 large red onion, chopped
4+ garlic cloves (to taste), minced
1 giant free-range chicken breast on the bone. Or thighs, or whatever – use your judgement here.
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 28-ounce can chopped tomatoes, with juice
1/2 teaspoon Saigon cinnamon
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 cauliflower, cored, broken into florets, and sliced about 1/2 inch thick
about 15 manzanilla olives (or kalamata if you got ’em), rinsed, pitted and cut in half (optional)
small handful chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 to 2 ounces feta cheese, crumbled (optional – I didn’t use it, but it would be a welcome addition)
1. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium-high heat in a large, deep, heavy lidded skillet or casserole and brown the chicken, in batches if necessary, about 5 minutes on each side. Remove the pieces to a plate or bowl as they’re browned. Add the vinegar to the pan and scrape up all the bits from the bottom of the pan.
2. Add the remaining tablespoon of the olive oil to the pan, and turn the heat down to medium. Add the onion and a generous pinch of salt and cook, stirring often and scraping the bottom of the pan, until it is lightly browned and very soft.
3. Add the garlic and stir together for a minute or two more, until the garlic is fragrant, then add the tomatoes and their juice, the cinnamon, thyme, and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a simmer and simmer 10 minutes, stirring from time to time, until the mixture is reduced slightly and fragrant.
4. Return the chicken pieces to the pot, along with any juices that have accumulated in the bowl. If necessary, add enough water to barely cover the chicken. Bring to a simmer, reduce the heat, and simmer 15 minutes.
5. Add the cauliflower and olives and simmer for another 15 minutes, or until the cauliflower is tender and the chicken is just about falling off the bone.
6. Take chicken out of pot, remove from bone, shred, and re-incorporate. Simmer just a minute more, stir in the parsley, taste and adjust seasonings. Serve with grains – black rice is nice – with feta sprinkled on top if you like.