I recently had a craving for a dish my late grandma used to make. She called it a chicken stew, and it was simply chicken pieces, usually on the bone, with vegetables, cooked in a rich gravy. I loved to eat the stew with fresh buttered bread or with rice.* I described the dish to Jac as best I could. She thought about it, then said, “I think I can cook that.” And so Jac cooked me a chicken stew for dinner, and it was fantastic! She served it with buttered crusty white bread – the kind with a crispy brown crust that crackles when you tear it.
Jac used chicken thigh fillet pieces in the stew, along with potatoes, carrots, celery, onions and peas. The potatoes and carrots were perfectly stewed vegetables – soft, yet firm, with not a hint of hardness or crunch. My grandma never used peas, but regular readers will know Jac’s obsession with getting me to eat green vegetables whenever possible. The peas were great in the stew – I shall expect peas in the chicken stew from now on!**
Jac’s chicken stew probably didn’t taste exactly like my grandma’s – but it was definitely its equal in tastiness. It was so good eating this dish – I felt very lucky and happy, I thought about my grandma, and with every happy mouthful, greedily wished the bowl was bigger.
*For me, a proud ricepot, most things go well with rice :)
**I did tell Jac that my grandma sometimes put cabbage in the stew, cabbage sliced roughly into large square pieces – but we didn’t have any cabbage in the fridge to use. I love cabbage in stews, soups and curries – it’s so good for soaking up the moisture and flavour of whatever liquid it’s been served in. It’s especially good in sayur lemak (vegetables cooked in coconut milk and chilli).