WINTER WHITE CHICKEN STEW
Getting slow-cooked, subtle flavors from a simple and quick-cooking dish is a great trick to have up your sleeve. Here's a hearty example that tastes as if it simmered for hours.
• 3 tablespoons EVOO (extra-virgin olive oil), 3 times around the pan
• 1 cup all-purpose flour
• Salt and black pepper
• 2 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts and thighs cut into large chunks
• 2 fresh or dried bay leaves
• 3 garlic cloves, chopped
• 2 onions, cut into bite-size dice
• 1 large fennel bulb, cored and cut into bite-size dice, plus a few tablespoons of chopped fronds
• 3 large Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
• 1 cup dry white wine
• 1 quart (4 cups) chicken stock
• 1 cup green Sicilian olives, pitted and coarsely chopped
• 1/4 cup pine nuts
• 1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
• Zest and juice of 1 lemon
• 1 loaf crusty bread
Heat the EVOO in a large pot over medium-high heat. Place the flour on a plate, season the chicken pieces liberally with salt and pepper, then transfer the chicken to the flour. Toss to coat the pieces and shake off any excess flour. Transfer the chicken to the hot pot and brown for about 5 minutes, giving it a stir every now and then. Add the bay leaves, garlic, onions, fennel, half of the fennel fronds, and the potatoes and continue to cook for about 10 minutes, or until the onions are tender. Add the white wine and cook for 1 minute while scraping the bottom of the pan. Add the chicken stock and bring up to a bubble, then reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Add the olives for the last 5 minutes of cooking.
While the stew is simmering, prepare the gremolata garnish. Place the pine nuts in a dry skillet over medium heat and cook, tossing frequently, until toasted, just a couple of minutes. Place the parsley, lemon zest, and toasted pine nuts in a pile on a cutting board and run a knife through the pile until it is finely chopped. Mix in the remaining fennel fronds.
To serve, squeeze the juice of the lemon over the stew and combine. Discard the bay leaves. Ladle the stew into shallow bowls and sprinkle with some of the gremolata. Serve with crusty bread for mopping.