Friday, March 6, 2009

Chicken and Root Vegetable Stew with Leeks

INGREDIENTS (serves 6 easily):

4 chicken thighs, trimmed of fat and chopped into pieces
4 leeks, cut into large chunks
3 parsnips, cubed
1 sweet potato, cubed
1 large Yukon gold potato, cubed
2 tbsp. bacon fat
2 tbsp. flour
3 sprigs fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
6 cups chicken, duck, or goose stock (we used leftover goose stock, but that might not be just lying around--we know we're crazy)
1 15-oz. can unseasoned pureed butternut squash
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp. ancho chili powder
1 tsp. honey or agave nectar
Salt and pepper to taste

1) Heat the bacon fat over medium-high and add the flour, stirring to form a nutty brown roux.
2) Add the stock, chili powder, dried garlic, squash puree, thyme, and bay leaves. Bring to a brisk simmer.
3) Add the parsnips and cook about 5 minutes.
4) Add the potato and sweet potato. Cook 5 minutes more, stirring occasionally.
5) Add the leeks and simmer 8-10 minutes until the large leek chunks are tender and the root vegetables are cooked. Season the broth with salt and fresh black pepper--it should have a fairly thick consistency, and lots of flavor.
6) Add the chicken thighs and simmer until tender and cooked through, about 5 minutes more depending on the size of the pieces.
7) Remove the bay leaves and the thyme stems--the leaves from the thyme should have all fallen off into the stew. Make sure it's seasoned to your taste.
8) Open Lagunitas Hop Stoopid.
9) Enjoy together.

This is the sort of beer-drinking experience we love: someone (the brilliant lads at Lagunitas) has used so much hops, and have done it so deftly, that all you're confronted with initially is the taste of a tropical beach--pineapple, grapefruit, kiwi, apricot--until after you've savored it. Then you're left with perfectly balanced spruce and a touch of warmth. Stunning beer. Very strong. Good with stew.

These are my Christmas shoes. Don't you just love my new Christmas shoes? Do you like them? Huh? Huh? Do you? Are they your favorite? Doesn't my mother-in-law pick stellar shoes? They're my favorite.

On the subject of cute shoes, my editor Kerri and I were talking about the dangers of wearing them (in the city, in the snow, skidding from hazard to hazard), and I realized that I'm much more cautious about the very present threat of falling on my face these days. Why, you may ask? Well, interestingly, this caution seems to have been engendered after I fell on my face last year, and the fact that I bit through my lower lip at the time really drove the message home. How did I slip and fall and bite through my lower lip, you might ask?

Four words: Amateur Female Jello Wrestling.

No, seriously. I'm not making that up.

So I'm wondering now whether for the rest of my life I'm going to be actively wondering whether it's a good idea to be walking with my hands in my pockets, etc., so as to avoid further damage to my face. I could wear flat shoes, I suppose, but--no, what am I thinking? No. So there I go, just a-walkin' down the street, and all the while my inner monologue is:

"My hands shouldn't be in my pockets. Should my hands be in my pockets? If I fall, what will hit the snow patch first? My nose? That would break my nose, yes? Should my hands be in my pockets?"

I can just see myself wearing these bad boys, hitting an ice patch in mid-March when I thought they were all melted, falling toward the pavement as I yell "Not the FACE!" Boom.

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