Hearty Beer & Chicken Stew

One of the things I love about fall is that it gives me an excuse to have the stove on for hours heating up the house and making comfort food.  This was originally a slow-cooker recipe from Eating Well, but my slow-cooker isn’t big enough so I translated it to stove-top and made a few other tweaks along the way.

I used local meat to make this stew.  It’s so comforting finding a local butcher (or several) who you trust and can talk to about the origins of the food they sell.  The rich, smokey bacon flavour is really the star of this stew, so if you need an excuse to find a great local butcher I say now is the time!  If you’re in the Ottawa area, I got my meat for this meal at Sasloves.

6 tbsp plus 1/2 cup whole wheat flour (I use Red Fife heritage wheat)
2 1/2 pounds local boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into pieces
4 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
4 pieces thick-cut local bacon, chopped
1 can of stout beer (I used Guinness, but would have loved to find a local microbrew!)
1 pound carrots, diced
6 medium red skinned potatoes, diced
1 cup red onion, chopped
1 cup white onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 tsp dried thyme
2 cups organic chicken broth
2 cups frozen baby peas, thawed
fresh ground salt and pepper to taste

Directions

1. Combine 6 tablespoons flour with about 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper in a bowl. Dredge chicken thighs in the mixture to coat; transfer to a plate.

2. Heat 2 teaspoons of oil in a large heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Add half the chicken and cook until browned, about 5 minutes; transfer to a clean plate and repeat with more oil and second half of chicken. Remove it to the plate also.

3. Add bacon to the pot and cook, stirring often, for about 2 minutes. Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup flour over the bacon and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes more. Add beer and use a wooden spoon to scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. (This whole mess with the flour was really annoying, but worth it – it helps the wonderful bacon flavour permeate throughout the stew!)

4. Add carrots, onion, garlic, thyme and broth.  Stir.  Turn down heat to low.  Cover and simmer about half an hour.

5. Add potatoes.  Cook another 20 minutes.

6. Stir in peas, cook for 10 minutes more. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

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