Tuesday, October 27, 2009

More comfort food: Beer-Braised Chicken Stew

As you might have guessed from this blog, I am not an unadventurous eater. When it comes to cooking at home though, I tend to pick recipes that are new to me but that have familiar ingredients. Maybe it's because these are the recipes I can imagine the flavor of when reading them. Whatever the reason, while at the store yesterday I got the urge to pick up some ingredients I've never tried. I'll be sharing my experiments with you over the course of the week.

In the meantime, today's recipe. It starts with an ingredient I certainly know and love, beer, but the predominant spice is one I have never used before: anise. I knew it had a licorice flavor, but didn't know how it would play out with the rest of the mix. I was really happy with the end result and it certainly has a blend of flavors that were fresh and delicious to me. It's a surprisingly delicate spice blend that really doesn't taste like licorice by the time the anise has melded with everything else. I think next time I might kick up the cayenne.

Beer-Braised Chicken Stew with Fava Beans and Peas
Adapted from Food & Wine, May 2006
2 tablespoons anise seeds
4 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1/2 teaspoon loosely packed saffron threads
2 teaspoons sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons pure olive oil
8 skinless chicken thighs
1 cup shelled fava beans
1/2 cup fresh peas, preferably English peas
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 pound button mushrooms, halved
8 scallions, thinly sliced
2 thyme sprigs
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
One 12-ounce bottle Belgian beer
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley

  1. In a small skillet, toast the anise seeds over moderate heat, shaking the skillet, until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Let the anise seeds cool slightly, then crush with the side of a knife.
  2. In a mini food processor, combine the toasted anise seeds with the chopped garlic, saffron, paprika and cayenne. Add the lemon juice and puree. Transfer the mixture to a large, shallow bowl and stir in 1/2 cup of the olive oil. Add the chicken thighs and turn to coat with the marinade. Refrigerate for 1 hour.
  3. Meanwhile, bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil. Add salt and the fava beans and cook for 1 minute; using a slotted spoon, transfer the fava beans to a small bowl and let cool slightly. Add the peas to the boiling water and cook until tender, 5 to 6 minutes; drain. Peel the fava beans and add to the peas.
  4. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large enameled cast-iron casserole. Remove the chicken thighs from the marinade, scraping off the excess. Season the chicken with salt and black pepper and cook over moderately high heat, turning occasionally, until browned, about 10 minutes. Transfer the chicken thighs to a platter.
  5. Wipe out the casserole, add the butter and heat until melted. Add the halved mushrooms, sliced scallions and thyme and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until any liquid has evaporated and the mushrooms are browned, about 8 minutes. Sprinkle the flour over the mushrooms and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Slowly stir in the beer and bring to a boil, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the casserole.
  6. Return the chicken thighs to the casserole and season with salt and black pepper. Cover and simmer over low heat until the chicken is tender and cooked through, about 25 minutes. Add the cream, fava beans and peas, increase the heat to moderate and cook uncovered until the sauce has reduced slightly, about 5 minutes. Discard the thyme sprigs. Serve the chicken stew in shallow soup bowls, sprinkled with the parsley.

1. I couldn't find frozen favas anywhere, so I substituted soybeans/shelled edamame and really liked the mix. I used frozen peas as well. You could really use just about any vegetable you'd like though: carrots, green beans, corn might be nice (Hmm, why didn't I think of that one sooner?). You get the idea.
2. I used boneless skinless things and threw in a couple extra just 'cuz I had 'em.
3. I used Grolsch becasue that's what we had, but something more caramely or nutty would be great.
3. Obviously saffron is very expensive, and I cringed at using it in the marinade since it gets scraped off before cooking. I did though and while it was beautiful, I think it's certainly optional.

I'm sure this could be served on its own, but I went whole hog and served it on top of orzo — a really good combo. I definitely plan to make this again and try some experimenting. And for those of you have never tried fava beans, I love them and urge you to seek them out. Since they are likely out of season where you are now, frozen is a decent substitute. Let me know how it goes!


  1. Oh....my goodness, that looks so good! I love your work and your blog! Thank you for an inspiring visit!

    love + luck + bliss,
    missysue xox

  2. How long did it take you to shell the Favas? We can't get them here pass July. Are they readily available there all the time?

  3. No, they're not. I was looking for frozen, but couldn't find. As I said in the notes, I substituted edamame. Tasty!