Inspiration does come from strange sources. But, sometimes, you have to have an adventurous spirit to follow the inspiration. Because… well, who cooks a dish based on the lyrics of a song?
If you’re familiar with LSS, that was how this chicken stew came to be. It was December 1, 2017, a night chilly enough to warrant serving a rich stew with rosemary rolls that my daughter had baked.
But the stew wasn’t born from a whim. Even with “… parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme…” playing repeatedly in my head, I did take a moment to pause and analyze if combining all four herbs in one dish was a good idea.
Parsley is earthy and peppery. Sage is subtly peppery with hints of mint and lemon. Rosemary is citrusy and piney. Thyme has the most complex flavor of the four herbs. Think of it as a subtler version of rosemary but with woodsy and floral undertones. Looking at those flavor profiles, yes, I was sure that they would all go well together in a single dish.
What about apple cider? Does it contain alcohol? Apple cider is raw and unfiltered apple juice traditionally made from stragely-shaped or otherwise imperfect apples which are considered too unsightly to be sold. It is common during fall and winter, and is associated with food and beverages served during Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year.
When left to ferment, apple becomes hard cider which is alcoholic. The apple cider used here is non-alcoholic. It is tangier than filtered apple juice. If you’re thinking of substituting, consider the difference in flavor.
Scarborough Fair chicken stew
- 900 grams chicken pieces - bone in and skin on
- 1 tablespoon salt
- ½ teaspoon ground pepper
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons olive oil - not extra virgin
- 1 onion - chopped
- 1 teaspoon garlic - minced
- 1 stalk parsley - chopped
- 2 sage leaves - thinly sliced
- 2 sprigs rosemary (leaves only) - chopped
- 1 sprig thyme (leaves only) - chopped
- 1 ½ cups apple cider - (NOT apple cider vinegar)
- 1 large carrot - cut into wedges
- 1 large bell pepper - cut into wedges
- Wipe the chicken pieces dry with paper towels.
- Place the chicken in a bowl. Add salt and pepper. Mix well. Cover the bowl and marinate the chicken in the fridge for at least two hours.
- Place the chicken in a resealable bag. Add the flour. Shake to coat each piece. Take the chicken out of the bag, shaking off excess flour.
- Heat the butter and olive oil in a pan.
- Brown the chicken pieces just until a light crust forms. If your pan is not so wide, you may need to do this in batches. Scoop out the chicken as they brown and move to a plate.
- In the remaining oil, saute the onion, garlic, parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme with a sprinkle of salt and pepper until softened and aromatic.
- Pour in the apple cider and scrape the bottom of the pan to loosen bits stuck on it. Bring to a gentle boil.
- Return the chicken pieces to the pan. Scatter the carrot and bell pepper wedges over them.
- Cover the pan, lower the heat and cook the chicken for 30 to 40 minutes (depending on the size of the chicken pieces). Taste the sauce halfway through the cooking time and add more salt and pepper, if needed.
- To serve, place three or four chicken pieces in a bowl. Ladle sauce around them. Add carrot and bell pepper wedges. Optionally, garnish with a sprig or two of rosemary and a bit of chopped parsley.