Chicken Stew Ole

7 Apr

“Good artists copy. Great artists steal.” -Steve Jobs

I’ve been making this stew for several years now, but I’ll be the first one to tell you that it wasn’t my idea. My friend Colin had been making a Chicken Soup Ole (similar to this) that he had learned from his mother. I think he said that she had lifted it from a Betty Crocker cookbook, or something similar. That’s a roundabout way of saying that this isn’t Mexican food in the least, but it’s still delicious and great fun at dinner parties, where you get to decorate your bowl with whatever toppings are on hand. I suggest putting all the prepared garnishes on the table and letting diners do what they please.

When I was younger, my mom would make a couple different dishes when the kids were sick. One was Alphabet Soup, another was Aguadito de Pollo, and another was Jook. Aside from the Alphabet Soup, it was pretty easy to see why I associated rice soups with “get well” food. So several years later, it is no wonder that when my roommate was sick I decided to make her Chicken Soup Ole, only thickened with rice. It must have worked because a couple years after, she agreed to marry me! She still ranks this as one of her favorite things I make.

This dish is really great for using up leftover taco toppings (the hard shell kind). The fact that most of the ingredients are canned also means you can whip it up whenever.

Ingredients

1.5 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
salt, pepper, paprika, cumin, and chili powder
2 cups uncooked white rice
1 yellow onion, diced
4 cups chicken broth
2 cups water
1 15 oz can diced tomatoes, with juice
1 14.5 oz can whole kernel corn, drained
1 4 oz can diced green chilies
2 tsp red wine vinegar

Garnish

tortilla chips
grated cheddar cheese
chopped cilantro, stems removed
green onions, diced (green and light green parts only)
salsa or pico de gallo
avocado slices or guacamole
sour cream
sliced black olives
hot sauce
anything else you want!

Yields

10-12 servings

Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Season the chicken breasts with salt, pepper, paprika, cumin, and chili powder, tossing to cover. Place in the heated oven and bake for about 45 minutes, flipping halfway through. Don’t worry if the chicken isn’t completely cooked through, but it must be cooked enough to be shredded.
  3. Meanwhile, in a large pot or Dutch oven add the rice, onion, chicken broth, and water. Bring it to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Stir occasionally to minimize the rice sticking to the bottom of the pot.
  4. Shred the chicken and add to the rice, along with the tomatoes, corn, chilies, and vinegar. Taste for seasoning.
  5. Continue cooking until the consistency of the rice is like chunky porridge, about an hour from start to finish. You definitely shouldn’t have individual grains of rice, but if it’s too thick you can add more water or chicken broth.
  6. Ladle about a cup of stew into each serving bowl.
  7. Now comes the fun part! Add whatever garnishes you want, and mix the stew to create a personalized meal.

Lessons

This dish lends itself to a couple variations, mostly of the seasonal variety. I have made it with fresh corn, and the  crunch of the fresh corn is wonderful, but you have to wait until almost the end of cooking to add it. I have also replaced the canned tomatoes with tomatillos to give it a wonderful green color.

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One Response to “Chicken Stew Ole”

  1. Patricia April 13, 2012 at 3:17 am #

    Nothing against your Chicken Stew Ole, but now I really want some alphabet soup.

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