It would seem that Autumn is in full swing here in the Mississippi river valley. The trees are all beginning to change, there’s that crisp snap in the air, and we’re reaching for our jeans and sweaters instead of shorts and flip flops.
My friend Nancy brought me a huge bag full of apples from her trees. The most wonderful assortment of cooking and baking apples and I’ve been playing with recipes in my kitchen. So far I’ve made a big batch of my “Everything Nice” Applesauce, a sour cream apple pie, a couple loaves of cinnamon apple swirl bread, and this new stew I invented. It’s full of delicious, rich, fall flavors, healthy veggies, garden herbs and tender chicken. It simmers on your stove top all day and fills your home with the cozy smells that I just love this time of year. This recipe calls for 2 lb. apple cores and peelings. If you don’t feel like making this stew the same day you make your pies, crisps, apple sauce and other apple delicacies, simply fill Ziploc freezer bags with the cores and peelings and freeze them until ready to use.
When the stew-making urge strikes….light some candles, listen to your favorite radio show or cooking music, stay in your jammies, start some bread dough rising and make a big kettle of this…
for the stock:
2 lb apple cores and peelings (fresh or frozen)
12 cups water
3 cups tart apple cider
1 cup dry white wine
2 Tablespoons white vinegar
2 Tablespoons onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
3 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon curry powder
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3 Tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped fine
a bouquet garni (this time I used 2 big sprigs rosemary, 3 sprigs thyme and 4 big sage leaves)
1 whole, fresh bone-in, skin-on fryer chicken (cut into pieces)
Place all stock ingredients in a very large stock pot. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a gentle simmer. Place lid on stock pot so it’s slightly askew and some of the steam can escape while the stock cooks. Allow to simmer for 4 hours, stirring occasionally. Make sure it’s just simmering gently and not boiling. I like to keep the flame as low as possible.
After the 4 hours is up, strain stock into a separate pot and set stock aside. Remove bouquet garni. Remove chicken from stock and allow to cool so it’s easy to handle. Remove the bones, skin and inedible pieces from chicken and discard. Tear up the meat and return it to the stock.
Place a strainer/colander over a big bowl. Add the apple cores and peels to the strainer and squeeze as much stock/juice as you can through the strainer and into the bowl. Discard the apple cores and peelings. Add the drippings to the stock.
Rinse out your very big stock pot. Return the stock/chicken to the very big stock pot and add:
3 large apples, peeled, cored and cubed
1 large chopped onion + 3 stalks celery that have been sauteed in 1/4 cup butter until golden
4 large carrots, peeled and cut into slices on the diagonal
1 big sweet potato, peeled and cubed
Bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer and cover with the lid slightly askew. Simmer until veggies are tender. Add 1/2 lb egg noodles and cook just until noodles are tender. Or, alternately, make these apple dumplings instead of using noodles.