The title says quite plainly that this isn’t just another boring chicken stew with tomato sauce. Diced bacon was browned to render fat, the chicken pieces were browned in the bacon fat, diced tomatoes, corn and kidney beans were added and everything was simmered together. Toward the end of cooking time, cream cheese and milk blended together were added to thicken the sauce. Stews are rarely picture pretty but who the heck cares? It’s the food that counts, not the photos. And this stew is so good that we finished all of it save for a little sauce and pieces of vegetables which I saved and in which I intend to toss cooked pasta… perhaps, tomorrow.
So, why a stew today? It’s been raining, it’s cold and a stew felt like a good idea. And, during the monsoon season, the price of fresh vegetables skyrocket and supply is often scarce. It seemed like an even better idea to make this stew which uses nothing but canned corn, canned beans and canned diced tomatoes.
The dish was inspired by a recipe I found on the Kraft website although I made a lot of adjustments to suit my preferences. Like? The original recipe uses chicken breast fillets. I’m not a fan of white meat so, no thanks, and I wouldn’t use fillets in a stew if I had chicken with bones because a lot of the stew’s flavor comes from the meat bones.
Second, I used a lot less milk and only half of the cream cheese specified.
Third, and probably the most substantial tweak, is the addition of bacon and the use of bacon fat to initially cook the chicken in.
Chicken stew with tomatoes, milk and cream cheese sauce
- 1/2 cup diced belly bacon
- 1 whole chicken about 1.5 kilograms, minus the breast
- 1 onion thinly sliced
- 4 cloves garlic crushed
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 cups canned diced tomatoes with the liquid
- 1/3 cup canned corn kernels drained
- 1/2 cup canned kidney beans drained
- 125 grams cream cheese
- 2 tablespoons full cream milk
- snipped cilantro to garnish (optional but recommended)
- Heat a pan and throw in the diced bacon. Spread the pieces evenly on the bottom. Keep the heat set to medium and allow the bacon pieces to render fat. Stir occasionally.
- While the bacon browns, cut the chicken into serving size pieces -- drumsticks, thighs, wings and chop the back portion into three pieces.
- When the bacon is browned and the bottom of the pan in covered in fat, scoop out the bacon and add the chicken to the pan. Cook over high heat without disturbing until browned on the underside. Flip to brown the opposite side.
- Add back the bacon to the pan. Add the sliced onion, garlic and oregano as well. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring often, until the onion slices are a bit softened.
- Pour in the diced tomatoes, beans and corn. Bring to the boil. Cover, lower the heat and simmer for 40 to 45 minutes or until the chicken is done.
- Five minutes before the 40-45 minute mark is up, place the cream cheese and milk in a microwaveable bowl and heat on HIGH for 30 seconds. Stir to make a smooth paste. Add to the chicken. Stir until the sauce has a homogenous appearance. Taste and add more salt and pepper, if needed.
- Sprinkle the stew with cilantro (if using) before serving.
Some of my favorite stews: