Thunderstorms have been rolling in and out of Portland the past few days. It’s still warm out, but the stormy weather has had me craving stew. This recipe is one that feels hearty and comforting without the heaviness or seasonal ingredients of some of my favorite fall and winter soups.
This recipe found its way into my life courtesy of my childhood friend, Sabrina. Sabrina attended The Natural Gourmet Institute in New York, so she understands nutritious cooking. We met in the 5th grade and became instant friends. Now she lives in the Netherlands, and when I went to visit she made this dish as a warm welcome.
The recipe calls for couscous, which is actually wheat and hence, not gluten free. My go-to gf substitute for couscous is quinoa, but Sabrina served this stew with polenta instead. I’ve made it once with quinoa and the polenta is hands down a better pairing. My personal preference is to use the marjoram rather than the thyme, or a blend of the two. I rarely cook with marjoram, but I can honestly say it’s the perfect herb for this combination of flavors. I’m extremely generous with my use of garlic, marjoram, and hot paprika (mine is actually hot and smoked, which adds another layer of flavor.) This recipe is also flexible—you can change the balance of tomatoes to chicken broth by about ½ a cup and it will still be delicious.
I usually prep all of the ingredients and get to the stewing-for-20-minutes stage before cooking the polenta. The stew will be done before the polenta, but if the chicken simmers a little longer it will just become more tender and absorb more of the herbs and spices. Just be sure to wait until the end to toss in the lemon zest and cilantro.
For polenta nothing beats Bob’s Red Mill. In part because I know they understand gluten free, so they don’t process the corn with the same machinery they use to process wheat. You will also notice from the photos that my stockpot is deep and my wooden spoon is long. Polenta will spit at you, so these are reasonable precautions. If you use butter in lieu of oil in the polenta than this dish is also dairy free.
It keeps extremely well and even tastes better the second day. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!
Organic Style Magazine