"WHAT DID YOU PUT IN THAT STEW?!"
(Serve with pasta, rice, or biscuits.)
Step 1: Ingredients
6 chicken leg quarters
3 tsp. ground thyme
Flour for dredging
1 large onion, chopped
3 lbs. red potatoes, cut in thick slices
1 cup celery, sliced about 1/2" wide
4 c. chicken broth (cold or room temperature)
1 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
4 minced garlic cloves or 2 tsp. granulated garlic
12 to 16 ounces of chicken sausage
1 square unsweetened chocolate, chopped
2 ounces espresso or strong coffee
NOTE: The amounts given for the chocolate and coffee are intended to be starting points. You are encouraged to experiment with "MORE CHOCOLATE AND COFFEE!", which is the fricassee mantra in this author's house.
2 lbs mushrooms, thickly sliced
1/4 c. (a small handful) of Italian parsley, chopped fine
1 bunch green onion, chopped
1/2 c. light cream (half and half)
Finely chopped red bell pepper
Step 2: Season the Chicken
Lay the chicken out on a clean surface. Sprinkle over all 6 pieces, in order: Salt, pepper, granulated garlic (if using), and ground spices. Flip the pieces over, and repeat seasoning steps.
Dredge the chicken in the flour, starting with 1 cup and adding more flour as needed.
Step 3: Pan-fry the Chicken and Potatoes
Cut the potatoes in thick slices (about 1/2 inch).
Pour enough olive oil in the pan to coat the bottom. You won't be deep-frying; just pan-frying to impart a bit more flavor to the stew.
Cook the chicken on a medium-low to medium setting The pieces probably won't brown evenly, so keep an eye on them and flip each one as desired. Add more oil if necessary.
When the chicken is brown, transfer all pieces to a large pasta-type pot and set aside.
Repeat process with the potato slices, only adding oil if you need to.
Step 4: Make the Gravy
Whisk the 1 cup of flour and 1 tsp. salt into the 4 cups of chicken stock This recipe makes a relatively small amount of gravy, so if you plan to serve it over biscuits, you might want to triple the recipe, as well as add an extra onion and cup of celery chunks to the stew -- just be careful not to add too much beyond that, or the sweetness of the cooked vegetables will overwhelm the coffee and chocolate. The gravy will thicken as it cooks in the pot, right along with the other ingredients
Step 5: Slow-cook
To the pot containing the browned chicken, add the celery, onions, chicken sausage, and browned potato slices.You also have the option of adding the mushrooms at this point, but they will cook down quite a bit and lose some of their shroomy glamor.
Pour the gravy into the pot, and stir all ingredients gently once or twice, just enough to combine them.
Cover the pot tightly with heavy-duty foil, or -- if the pot lid fits snugly and is fully oven-safe, you can use that instead.
I have never had a lid for ANY pot or roaster pan that worked as well as foil.
Place the covered pot on the center of the oven rack, and then set the oven to 325 degrees.
After one hour, reduce the temperature to somewhere between 200 and 300 degrees -- you will need to check your pot again after the second hour to make sure your ingredients are at a steady crock-pot temperature. Ovens have personalities, and what's a slow-cooking temperature for one oven dial might be a lot hotter (or cooler) on another dial, despite similar settings. If you know your oven's personality, targeting a specific dinner time shouldn't be too hard.
Step 6: Grand Finale
After 4 hours, remove the pot from the oven and check the chicken for doneness. If the chicken is still firm despite several hours at a slow simmer, cover the pot and return it to the oven for another hour (or longer if necessary). When the chicken is starting to fall apart, you're ready to roll -- pour in the light cream and coffee, then sprinkle the chocolate and chopped parsley over the top and stir just to combine.
Add salt to taste. I like to slightly under-salt and let the rest of the gang decide how much extra to add to their bowls.
In a large, non-stick pan, briefly sauté the mushrooms with a small amount of butter or oil. If you choose to serve them separately, strain them out and add the mushroom juice to the gravy. Otherwise, just add them to the pot.
Transfer the fricassee to a LARGE serving bowl, or strain out onto a platter, leaving the gravy behind to serve separately if you're also serving biscuits. Sprinkle the chopped bell pepper and green onion over your presentation, and serve!