Chickpea Stew with Chicken: Sweet & Savory Kitchens

Aunt Suzy says . . .

Margaux and I are on the lookout for good recipes using shredded chicken.  I was looking for something new to make but that would be fast and easy on a busy Sunday. I love all the flavors in this stew, so thought I’d give it a whirl.  It was a hit!  Randy and I both agreed that I should double the recipe next time – we barely had a small lunch portion left after eating.  We served it with a salad, baguette and some a Pinot Gris wine.  Since spring is seeming like it is not going to show up this year, this warming dish was especially welcome on a cold and snowy day.

Margaux says . . .

This dish was a hit in our house, too!  We always love bean stews, so I knew it would probably get gobbled up.  At Aunt Suzy’s suggestion, I made a double recipe, and I’m glad I did.  It was the perfect amount for dinner and then lunch for Desi and me the next day.

When I made this, I misread the recipe and used bone-in chicken, and it was really good, if  a little greasy.  I just skimmed as much of the extra fat off the top as I could.  This would be a great recipe to use for leftover shredded chicken, I would just use chicken broth instead of water, and add the chicken at the end with the red peppers, etc.  It would also be good vegetarian, eliminating the chicken altogether.  In that case, I would maybe use more red pepper.

Ingredients

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 skinless, boneless chicken thighs

3 large garlic cloves, minced

2 tablespoons ground cumin

2 tablespoons tomato paste

3/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

2 bay leaves

4 cups water or chicken stock or a combination

2 15-ounce cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1/2 cup roasted red peppers from a jar, drained and sliced into 1-inch pieces

Juice of ½ lemon, or more

1/3 cup coarsely chopped cilantro or flat-leaf parsley

Directions

Heat the olive oil in a medium pot over medium-high heat. Season chicken with salt; add to the pot and cook, turning once, until browned, 8–10 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Reduce heat to low and let oil cool slightly; add garlic and cook, stirring often, until fragrant, 30–60 seconds. Add cumin, tomato paste, and red pepper flakes; stir until a smooth paste forms, about 1 minute.  Add the liquid, the reserved chicken with any accumulated juices and the bay leaves.  Bring to a boil; reduce heat  and simmer, uncovered, occasionally stirring, until chicken is tender, about 20 minutes.

Transfer chicken to a plate and let cool slightly. Add chickpeas to pot; bring to a simmer and cook, covered, for 10-15 minutes. Shred the chicken.  Add the chicken, red peppers, half the herbs and lemon juice; simmer for a couple of minutes until heated through. Season with salt and more lemon juice, if desired. Ladle soup into bowls and garnish with more of the herbs.

Aunt Suzy says . . .

The cold weather continues to drive us to make warming soups and stews.  This flavorful stew is easy to make – even when cooking the beans from dried vs. opening cans.  The basis for this stew is sofrito, a savory tomato base used in many Spanish dishes.  It’s also at the foundation of a lot of Caribbean cooking, but it means something very different there.  It makes me think I need to make a great Puerto Rican chicken dish I learned years ago using sofrito . . . but I digress!  This is a beautiful-to-look-at dish as well as tasty.  The original recipe was from a Food & Wine article on Familia Torres, a Catalan wine maker.  Today we served this stew with their Sangre de Toro wine, one of my favorite inexpensive reds – delish!  We loved the Arugula-Mint Salad from Sunday’s dinner so much that we’re having it again.  It’s the perfect, refreshing foil for a rich stew.

2 cups dried chickpeas, soaked and drained

1/4 cup EV olive oil

1 onion, small dice

4 garlic cloves, minced

1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary

1 bay leaf

1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes, drained, reserving 1 cup of the juice

3 soft Spanish chorizo sausages, split lengthwise then sliced in 1/4-inch half moons

1/2 pound baby spinach, tough stems removed

Prepare the chickpeas:  Place soaked beans in a pot with water to cover by 2 inches.  Bring to a boil, turn down heat and simmer till done, about 2 hours.  Drain the chickpeas, reserving 2 cups of the cooking water.  Set aside both the cooked beans and the water.  This can be done a day or two ahead of making the stew.

Prepare the stew:  Place the olive oil in a Dutch oven and heat to medium high.  Add the onion, rosemary and the bay leaf and saute, stirring constantly until soft.  Add the garlic and stir for a minute or two until fragrant.  Add the drained tomatoes, bring to a sizzle and cook, stirring, for another 5 minutes.  Add the 3 cups total liquid (1 cup tomato juice and 2 cups bean cooking liquid), the cooked beans and the chorizo.  Stir to blend, bring back to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes.  This can also be done a day or two ahead.  The final step is to add the spinach, in 3 batches, stirring after each to blend.  Simmer for about 10 minutes to wilt the spinach, but be careful that it doesn’t disintegrate from overcooking.

NOTES ON INGREDIENTS AND AMOUNTS: The dried chickpeas added up to 5 1/2 cups cooked.  If you want to use canned chickpeas, you will need 3-4 15-ounce cans, drained and rinsed.  If using canned, I recommend using 2 cups chicken stock in place of the bean cooking liquid.  Make sure you are using (soft vs. dried) Spanish-style chorizo vs. Mexican.  Spanish is fully cooked and Mexican is fresh.  I used Chicken Chorizo from Trader Joe’s.  The original recipe called for a pound of spinach, but I think this is a lot – use your judgment!