Cook the Book

President Obama Stew (Chicken Casserole) From 'My Irish Table'

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[Photograph: Scott Suchman]

As the story goes, Cathal Armstrong was cooking a variation of his mother's chicken casserole at home on his day off from working at his flagship Restaurant Eve when he got a phone call: President Obama was on his way to dine at Armstrong's restaurant. Armstrong dropped what he was doing and headed over to work for a very memorable evening. Since that night, he has renamed this simple chicken and vegetable stew "President Obama Stew," and it appears as such in Armstrong's new cookbook, My Irish Table.

Why I picked this recipe: With such a history, how could I skip this chicken stew?

What worked: It's hard not to like a gently simmered stew of bone-in chicken, tomatoes, carrots, and garlic (so much garlic).

What didn't: I wasn't sure why Armstrong suggested cutting the breast meat into such small pieces since it cooks faster than the dark meat. I cut the breasts in half instead. I also found that the stew didn't need to cook any longer than 40-45 minutes. Keep an eye on the white meat and remove it if it is finished before the thighs and legs.

Suggested tweaks: If you don't want to dirty a skillet and a casserole/Dutch oven, you can brown the chicken in the casserole and then remove it before browning the vegetables. If you are using a skillet and it is too small to fit all of the liquid, skip adding the chicken stock until you've transferred the vegetable mixture to the casserole.

As always with our Cook the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of My Irish Table to give away this week.

About the author: Kate Williams is a freelance writer and personal chef living in Berkeley, CA. She is a contributor to The Oxford American, KQED's Bay Area Bites, and Berkeleyside NOSH. She blogs at Cooking Wolves. Follow her @KateHWiliams.

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