Three Sisters Organic Chicken Stew - Crock Pot & Gluten Free

I got into a habit of making an Organic Chicken Stew every week, sometimes more than once a week.  I don't eat out almost ever so that's not too much, and It's so easy!  There's a bit of chopping, but I'm not always capable of finely chopping veggies.  So I just didn't, and it's better that way!  I chop them in bite size chunks or even two-bite chunks.  That helps avoid the mushy vegetables you sometimes get from a Crock Pot.

I won't send you out to find exotic ingredients that you'll sub anyway, just good wholesome stew.  I think it's important to have all organic ingredients so that's what I use.  I noted 'organic' on those I consider to be more important than others, such as vegetables that are known to have GMO versions.  This kind of crock pot classic is great if you want to have ready meals when you get home after a day's work, or to make overnight. 

Completed!  The bread is a local gluten free whole grain, by Imagine That

Secrets to good flavor in stews, revealed!

Stick to classic vegetables, these form "mirepoix" or you can use "trinity" if you prefer.  I also add potatoes and squash, and sometimes corn and green beans.  Squash, beans and corn are the three sisters.


Three Sisters Organic Chicken Stew

Made in a Medium size crock pot.  If you don't have one, there are still a few yard sale weekends before fall!

Prep time: 30-35 minutes.  Cook time:  3 hours (high) or 8 hours (low)   Servings: 4+ (adult size)

1 package 'smart chicken' Organic Chicken Thighs, pan-seared before adding (skin-on, it contributes to the gelatin in the stew)

(vegetarians: Tempeh would probably work well in this, or pre-seared firm tofu. For the gelatin, you can add agar agar or a 2 inch piece of kombu, a seaweed that releases a gel, and lots of minerals.)

1 inch piece of kombu (or if that's too strong, a tablespoon of arame, or a sprinkling of dulse.  I add this for the minerals.)
1-2 organic zucchini or yellow squash, cut chunky

2 organic potatoes, cut chunky

3-4 carrots, cut chunky (parsnips would be a good sub)

Optional: some shreds of cabbage can seem a lot like pasta if you're on low-carb.

1/4 onion, cut very chunky (this is a FODMAP, and this is about my limit for it, so if you're sensitive to it, leave it out and use onion powder or flakes if you can.)

1 can organic corn + its liquid

1 package frozen green beans, thawed

6 cloves of garlic, peeled and halved (FODMAPS warning!)

A bit of sunflower oil

1/4 cup or less of organic lime juice either fresh or bottled is ok, lemon is ok, but don't skip this.

1 gluten free bullion cube (some Herbox is GF)

About 1-2 cups of water, broth or stock. Leave a 1 inch space or more at the top of the crock pot.

1 slice of tapioca bread, crumbled (thickener - can use a slurry of 2 T corn starch and a 1/2 cup water, mix thoroughly before adding)

Spices: black pepper, paprika, garlic powder, bit of curry, not too much, salt

Hot option: I sometimes add one of those Chinese hot peppers you see in take out Chinese food... you can buy them in Hispanic stores or in the international section of the supermarket.

Packet of organic frozen herbs (I can find a mix of Italian spices locally, your market may carry other ones) -- add a few minutes after it's done so it just thaws.

1. Thaw the chicken if needed.

2. Place only one cup of water or broth/stock in the crock pot and turn on to high (will be lowered later). I sometimes add some saved pan juices or au jus to this from another day's steak or another day's roast. You can top off the water/stock later after everything else is in there and you know how much you can add.

3. Add the corn and frozen green beans. Add kombu and bullion cube. Add thickener. Add hot pepper if using. Cover and allow to warm up while you chop veggies.

4. Peel and chop veggies (carrot, potatoes, squash, onion) - this really isn't that long of a chore, chop large and it's a snap, the bonus is, it's more texture this way. Add to the crock pot.

5. Toss the chicken with the oil + spices in a medium bowl. Sear, in a large saucepan, and allow skin to stick and it will release later. Give it at least three minutes on each side on medium or medium high heat.

6. Move chicken to the crock pot. Now pour lime juice into the hot pan and it will force anything left sticking to release. You can also use wine for this step, but I think lime juice is an upgrade from wine, for flavor. Stir and use a spatula to peel off the bits sticking to the pan and add the mixture to the crock pot. This is the secret to good flavor.

7. Add the garlic and toss the contents so almost everything is submerged. I add 1/2 teaspoon of salt at this point, do not taste it while the chicken is raw though.

8. Cook on high for 3 hours or low for up to 8 hours (you can do this in the morning and come home to dinner).

It should look like this when it's done.  It will be bubbling calmly. 

9. After you turn off the crock pot, add the frozen or fresh herbs and stir. Allow to thaw 3 minutes and stir again.  I use the whole packet, but I do it for nutrition reasons, a more artistic amount would be about two tablespoons of it.

10.  Taste for seasoning, correct if needed. Ready to serve. Makes four meal size servings with meat, and some leftovers without meat, perhaps another serving.  Or you can strain the leftovers and use the liquid as part of the base for the next batch.

Note: My crock pot has one of those older plastic lids so I add a kitchen towel on top which helps retain the heat better. If it looks like it will spill over, just ladle some liquid out and after you eat some of it, add it back. You can put the whole insert into the fridge after it has cooled some. Feel free to skim the fat off if you don't like it and discard the chicken skin, it has given its flavor and that's the important part.

Theory:  I'm full of theories, of course!  My thoughts on why lime juice works so well is because of the vitamin C and citric acid in it.  Both of those are used as food preservatives.  The long slow cooking involved can denature many vitamins but the presence of the acids not only gives this a delightfully tangy flavor, but preserves the brightness of the other flavors, plus helps preserve more vitamins, despite the long cooking.


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