My First Tomato – Summer 2012
Leafing through taste memories, collard greens is my first tast memory and food love. I remember with extreme clarity sitting on my grandmother’s lap eating them, and she saying to me, “Girl, you gonna eat so many greens, you’re gonna turn green”. I don’t remember if I could even talk yet then, it was so long ago. Maybe I couldn’t talk because my mouth was full of greens. Those old days also represent for me all of the beautiful women of my childhood, and coming up time. A lot about those ways of life is gone, or going. Can we bring some of it back?
Like Sunday dinner. In my Mom’s childhood, it meant a nice home-cooked chicken dinner. A table-cloth with good china and glassware were standard. She says serving a chicken was expensive then (in the days before mass chicken farming), so it was a big deal to have a chicken on the table. Well, even I don’t cook a Sunday meal every Sunday, but I do try, because of the example she set. Her Sunday dinners for my brothers and me were done before noon. I’ve got a long way to go still to becoming a queen; getting up past 9 a.m. on Sunday, there’s no way any dinner will be ready by noon!
Speaking of queens, my Mom is truly a cooking queen. Some of her dishes are legendary. You should see the look of reverence on the faces of those eating her meals. You know, when the room goes quiet, and everyone sort of slows down and pays extra attention to every bite. Her best meal: Fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, and of course, collard greens. But she also made things like asian fried rice, tamales, and of all things, stuffed grape leaves. But most of her dishes are comforting, simple creations. Let’s bring Sunday dinner back next week, the first Sunday in August. This still being a really hot summer, let’s start with something to not strain ourselves, like this Late Summer Chicken Stew:
Note: This recipe’s main flavor profile is thyme. By all means use a different herb if you desire, like rosemary. This recipe makes plenty (10 pieces of chicken), so look forward to leftovers on Monday or having the ability to feed drop-in Sunday visitors.
Late Summer Chicken Stew
5 lb. chicken thighs
Seasoning mix: Combine in a small bowl 2 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. pepper, 1/2 tsp. each: garlic powder, onion powder, and ground thyme
2 Tbs. olive oil
2 medium onions, sliced in 1/2″ slices
1 clove garlic, minced
1 bunch fresh thyme: tie 1/2 of the bunch (about 5 or 6 sprigs) with kitchen string or use a sprig of the thyme; reserve other half of bunch
2-1/2 Cups beef broth (reduced or no sodium variety)
1 large yellow squash, diced
1 small zucchini, diced
6 oz. petite carrots, whole; (or 2 small carrots, sliced)
2 Tbs. flour
1. Wash and thoroughly dry the chicken. Reserve 1 tsp. of the seasoning mix, and sprinkle remainder over both sides of the chicken. Let the chicken rest about 15 minutes. Place chicken in broiler-proof pan and broil over flame until nicely browned. Watch carefully to not char it. Remove and set the chicken aside.
2. Warm a large skillet (mine is 12″ round), now add the olive oil and then warm it over a medium heat. You should hear a sizzle when you add the onion slices. Cook until onions are soft and dark golden brown on both sides, about 12 minutes. Add the garlic and thyme and cook about 2 minutes. Add the broth and bring to a boil. Add the browned chicken, cover and reduce heat to a nice simmer and cook until chicken is done, about 30 minutes.
3. Uncover the skillet and remove the chicken, set aside. Now make a paste with the flour, using some of the hot broth from the skillet (about 1/3 Cup), and pour this back into the broth, stirring. Add the vegetables and cook until the broth has thickened and the vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes. Halfway through, taste the broth for seasoning. If necessary, add more of the reserved fresh thyme and seasoning mix. Return chicken to the skillet, and warm through. Now serve.