A couple weeks ago I was in Wisconsin with my daughter and friends. It was pouring rain and biking was out of the question, so we drove into the countryside to experience an Amish produce auction. Because of the rain and the recent freeze, there was an abundance of beautiful, organic produce and not very many buyers. My friend, Carole, and I seized the opportunity to both support the farmers and get our hands on some of the amazing vegetables. After bidding and winning onions, tomatoes, butternut squash, pie pumpkins and beets, we went to claim our winnings. We learned that when we thought we were bidding on one box of squash, we were actually buying seven! In fact, we had inadvertently purchased a lot more of everything.
Good thing we like to cook, and upon returning home I found a great recipe for stew with chicken and butternut squash. It was a simple recipe, and seemed like a warming welcome home dinner after our rainy weekend camping.
To get started, just pour broth and water over your chicken breasts -- note the recipe calls for meat with the skin and bone, which adds more flavor to the broth.
While the chicken is cooking to tender, cube your squash and apples, and cut your tomatoes -- I just bought diced tomatoes and avoided that step. Peeling squash can be done with a vegetable peeler or a knife.
Cubing is facilitated if you cut the squash into layers first... keeping the squash 'together,' cut rows and then cube. This is a chef's trick my husband learned working in a kitchen at college.
For the apples, core with a corer and then peel them using a paring knife -- or you can also use a vegetable peeler, if you prefer.
Cube the apples by cutting them in half, and laying the cut side down for a flat and stable surface. This makes it a lot easier!
Remove the leaves from the marjoram stems by holding the top end and 'rubbing' off the other leaves by pulling downward. Then, just chop them.
Your chicken should be done now, so check to see if the meat is tender by pulling the flesh apart with two forks.
If it's tender, take the pot off the heat, pull the chicken pieces out and set them on a cutting board to cool. The recipe calls for skimming fat, but mine didn't seem excessive so I moved on to the next step of adding the other ingredients (except the apples and flour) and continuing to cook. I love recipes that use pearl onions -- they were a favorite ingredient of my mom's when I was growing up!
When the chicken is cool enough to handle, pull the meat off the bone and chop it. Discard the skin and bones.
Next, add the chicken and apples and cook for 4-5 minutes.
The final step is to thicken the soup. Mix up the apple juice and flour until smooth.
Stir the thickener into your cooking pot. You now have one minute to grab a bowl (or bowls), butter some bread, and get ready for a wonderfully warm fall stew!
Since the auction, I've been surprising friends with bags of beets, or a prize pie pumpkin, and I've been baking and cubing squash, pureeing cooked pumpkin, freezing, pickling beets, making gallons of pasta sauce... Now I need to check the web site for more recipes! (Did you know you can just type 'squash' or any ingredient into the 'search' box at the top left of any page on the site and you'll get a whole list of great recipes?!)
Try this Chicken & Squash Stew any chilly fall day or whenever you have an abundance of squash. And, let me know if you have any comments or tips about this dish!
Don't miss my upcoming post about mouthwatering cardamom cookies -- perfect little treats for the Holidays!