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Welcome to our new column, dubbed "Comfort Me with..." In case you can't tell from the title, the purpose of this space is to share with you the warming, stick-to-your-ribs fare that graces my kitchen table. I'm a vocal advocate for eating hearty food composed of real ingredients, so you'll find a lot of that here. Think tender braises, rich casseroles, and other comforting, down-home dishes.
For our inaugural post, I'll be tackling chicken stew, slow-cooked in tomato sauce with red wine, onions, olives, and capers. The tartness of the tomato and red wine lend an intoxicating aroma and rich flavor, balanced by a healthy dose of olives and capers. I add bay leaves and basil, though you could probably experiment with any number of herbs, such as thyme, rosemary, or oregano, with fine results.
This dish is versatile and keeps very well, so you can prepare it ahead of time for equally delicious—if not even better—results. Prepping the ingredients the night before and setting it up to stew in a slow cooker while you're at work is another easy method (and it has the added benefit of feeling as though someone's been slaving away in your kitchen all day long).
I personally like to use dark meat for this recipe, as it stays more tender than white, but you're more than welcome to substitute chicken breast if you prefer. Vegetarians can give it a poultry-free twist with canned chickpeas and chopped kale, instead. Just cook it uncovered and shorten the braising time to about 30 minutes so that the beans and greens keep some of their structure.
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About the author: Stephanie Stiavetti is a writer and cookbook author in San Francisco. Stephanie's cookbook, Melt: the Art of Macaroni and Cheese, celebrates America's favorite dish by recreating it with small production, specialty cheeses. Her food blog, The Culinary Life, is a repository for all things comfort food related, from savory dinners to transcendental desserts.