Holiday Recipes > Red Stew and Green Soup

Red Stew and Green Soup

By GREG MAFFETT
Published: December 16, 2010

Ingredients:

Well, lets say these are holiday foods, just for arguments sake. They do have one thing in common, and that common factor was the surprise for me. I'll give you the official recipe, then tell you how I adjust.

Here is the ingredient list for the red stew. This is a Spanish Portuguese inspired dish that was published in Bon Apetit in 1997.

  • 1 pound andouille sausage,* cut into rounds
  • 6 large chicken thighs (about 2 1/4 pounds)


  • 3 cups chopped onions
  • 2 1/3 cups chopped green bell peppers
  • 1 1/4 cups chopped red bell pepper
  • 6 large garlic cloves, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes with juices
  • 1 14 1/2-ounce can low-salt chicken broth
  • 1 cup dry white wine


  • 3/4 cup sliced pimiento-stuffed green olives
  • 1 pound uncooked large shrimp, peeled, deveined


  • *A smoked pork and beef sausage, available at specialty foods stores. Hot links, smoked bratwurst, kielbasa or smoked Hungarian sausage can be substituted.

Preparation
Sauté sausage in heavy large pot over medium heat until brown, about 4 minutes. Transfer to large bowl. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Add chicken to pot and cook until browned, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer chicken to bowl with sausage. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon pan drippings.

Add onions and bell peppers to pot; sauté until golden brown, about 15 minutes. Add garlic, oregano, thyme and paprika; sauté 2 minutes. Return sausage, chicken and any accumulated juices to pot. Add tomatoes with juices, chicken broth and wine. Bring to boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer until chicken is cooked through, about 25 minutes.

Uncover pot. Add olives and simmer until chicken is very tender and liquid is reduced to thin sauce consistency, about 40 minutes. Add shrimp and simmer just until cooked through, about 5 minutes longer. Season to taste with salt and pepper. (Stew can be prepared 1 day ahead. Refrigerate until cold, then cover tightly and refrigerate. Before serving, rewarm over medium-low heat.)

Ok, that is the official way to make this. But I uh, never really follow the officials.

So I don't use andouille sausage. I use whatever they have at the local market and I free lance from there. Today I had sweet Italian sausage and that worked well. I added some ground red pepper (maybe a quarter tsp) and I went a little heavy on the paprika to offset the fact that the sausage was not spicy. For me that is job one, getting the herbs and spices right. I don't have fresh oregano or thyme, so I use dried herbs and insert half what is called for. Then I add a little more if the broth seems thin on flavor. One time that I made it, it was thin. That was not good.

Two keys to this as you play with it. One is the fat that comes off the sausage and the thighs. Fat is flavor, so it is good. But it floats on top the stew and can make it a little heavier than you want. I leave more fat in than they call for, but then I pair this with a big red wine and that wine requires fat as an offset, so it works for me. If you are not doing the big red, then drain off more fat.

The wine in the broth itself is another key issue. I usually use an inexpensive Chardonnay (10-12 bucks) and hope for the best. It usually works. But today I tried a sparkling red from one of my wine clubs. It was probably twice the price... but it was declared undrinkable as a table wine by a guy in Napa. I tossed that in and it worked perfectly.

The way this stew works, I find nearly any chicken stock seems to do the trick. So I use anything I have. In this case, it is not critical. In the green soup, it hinges on the stock. I'll get to that later.

Great stew in that you can make it a day ahead and it is better the second day. I usually freeze 2/3 of a batch and have great stew in the freezer for when I get back from a trip. Can't tell you how good the house smells when I'm cooking this, you'll have to make it yourself to see. Takes a while to make it, lots of chopping and milling about the stove, so this is not a dash and go kind of meal.

And oh yeah, one last thing. I don't bother with the shrimp. Works fine for me with just the chicken and sausage. But for you, whatever floats your boat. It's a stew. They were designed to be customized.

Green Soup

The official name is Chicken Tortilla Avocado soup from Kenny Shopsin's book Eat Me. It is arguably a Mexican soup, but Kenny is a Jewish guy from New York City. So Northeastern US-Jewish-Mexican is probably more accurate lineage. In the end, it is the green soup once you are done and the avocados break down into the broth.

Ingredients

10-12 oz of chicken breast ( I use a pound)

1/4 cup good olive oil (don't chintz)

1/2 head of cabbage (sliced like for cole slaw)

1 large onion chopped ( I just slice it)

Minced hot peppers (I use two Serrano's and that is perfect for me)

4 cups chicken stock (I use one can butterball and 1 can college inn)

Cilantro

1/4 cup black beans

tortilla chips

Hass Avocado

Prep

Kenny grills the chicken for the grillmarks. I just toss it on a pan with no oil for 3-4 minutes to get it cooked on the outside. Idea is not to overcook.

Saute the cabbage, onion and peppers about 5 minutes. De-glaze the pan with the stock. Add the chicken strips, cilantro and beans and simmer until chicken is cooked through, about 2 minutes. (I go 4-5 minutes)

To serve, put chips in a bowl, pour the soup over the chips and spoon the avocado on top.

So that is the Kenny way to do this. I drop the black beans as 1/4 cup of those is more trouble than it is worth. It works without the beans. The chicken stock is critical. I used a weak stock the first few times and it took 3-4 days until the flavor built up. Using the brands I use now, it rocks on day one. I know that sounds like fast food, but really this dish puzzled me. By day 3 it was all world, then I'd make a new batch and it was bland on day 1. Had to play with it for a few months to get it wired. Now it is solid and it rocks on day one. Also, I don't like to put the cilantro in the soup while cooking. I add it right before serving.

The thing that really surprises me about these two dishes is that I can pair them with a really big Napa Cabernet and they both work. I just had a bottle of 05 Pine Ridge Fortis and it worked quite well with each of these. I think in both dishes there is enough fat in there to compliment the wine. Neither dish is overly saturated, but there is just enough fat and spice in each that they hold up well with the acids and mild tannins in the cabs I drink.

So that said, break out some holiday cheer and be happy! Good food always reminds me how good it is to be alive. I hope it does the same for you.


Method:

The green soup can be ready in 20 minutes from scratch. Red stew takes longer, but all you need is a knife, cutting board and the ability to chop without removing a digit and you are good to go on these. You just cut the meat up into bite size chunks, whatever you consider that to be.

Any Comments?

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