Fall in a small town means chilly nights watching high school football whether you have kids on the team or not. Being that our local Catholic high school team made the playoffs the Brain and I went last night as they played the team from the neighboring town. Those kids ran and they passed and they kicked and they played their hearts out and beat the crapola out of their opponents.
But up in the stands was where the real interesting action was. We managed to sit behind one of the loudest and most dramatic fans in town. The woman had lungs. Every single play she managed to shout instructions to the players. Every time the opposing quarterback threw the ball she yelled "PAAAAAAAAAAAAAAASSSSSSSS!" at the top of her lungs. It was like being in a Saturday Night Live skit or something. Highly amusing. I don't think there's been that much noise in the Big House in Ann Arbor all season.
It was nice to come back home out of the cold and have this Chicken and Squash Stew with Wild Rice waiting for us. I'd made it earlier in the day from the Cleveland Clinic Healthy Heart Lifestyle Guide and Cookbook. It's not the prettiest stew. In fact it looks kind of muddy. But it really is warming and delicious. It's comfort food for the Brain and me.
Chicken and Squash Stew with Wild Rice
8 skinless bone-in chicken thighs (about 2 pound) *
2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
4 medium carrots, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
6 celery ribs, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
3 garlic cloves minced
1 onion diced
1 Tbsp dried oregano
2 tsp ground cumin
Kosher salt (optional)
1/2 tsp ground pepper
2 pounds butternut squash, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 cup wild rice
2 quarts fat free reduced sodium chicken broth
1 bunch scallions **
10 sprigs fresh cilantro finely chopped **
1) Remove all visible fat from the chicken. Rinse and pat dry. Set aside.
2) In a Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the carrots, celery, garlic, and onion. Saute until the vegetables soften but do not brown, 5 to 6 minutes. Add the oregano, cumin, salt (if using), and pepper. Cook another 3 to 4 minutes.
3) Add the chicken to the pot along with the squash and rice. Gently stir. Pour in the chicken broth, making sure it covers all the pieces. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cover and simmer for about 1 hour, until the vegetables and rice are tender. ***
4) Meanwhile, combine the scallions and cilantro. Place in a small serving bowl
5) Ladle the stew into 8 shallow bowls. Serve, passing the scallion / cilantro mixture to sprinkle over the stew.
6) Freeze any remaining stew.
*I have to admit I buy most of my meat at Costco. So I have all these happy little packets of 5 boneless skinless chicken thighs. I just use those instead of the 8 bone in ones. I know, I know, this makes it less meat. It seems to work though, because the Brain doesn't seem to mind that there's less meat in it. Of course I've never made it for him with more meat.
** Yeah, as I mentioned previously my cilantro was tragically weeded over the summer, and there were no scallions in my fridge. I think I may have (oops) put them in the pumpkin soup. So I just skipped them. Actually, I don't think I've ever put them on top. It just doesn't need it.
***At this point the Brain was itching to go to the football game and we wanted to get there early enough to get a seat. So I turned it off after it had been simmering almost an hour and then we just brought it back up to temperature when we got back and we dug in. We skipped the fancy garnishing steps.