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Mediterranean Stew

Mediterranean Stew

This is a surprisingly fresh and light stew. Full of amazing flavors courtesy of gorgeous eggplant, fresh fennel and Kalamata olives. An unusual combination perfectly brightened with herbs and lemon zest!

If you overdid it on the Valentine’s Day candy this dish is a great antidote! I’ve flipped past this recipe for years and finally decided to give it a try – feeling it would either be wonderful or “what was I thinking”! It is wonderful!

There are recipes I try when the Engineer is out of pocket. Though he is far more willing to try new foods and dishes than he was when we first met, he still has his moments. (It’s a work in progress!) The ingredients are all things I love – eggplant, fennel, sweet onion, garlic, Kalamata olives, plump tomatoes – and a splash of white wine!

This is a great meal for a relaxing weekend. Once you prep the ingredients it comes together quickly. Start with the eggplant. Though it’s not always necessary to peel eggplant, I tend to err on the side of caution. Sometimes the peel of an eggplant can be tough and bitter.

Season the tender chunks of chicken with a simple sprinkling of kosher salt. The chicken is cooked in the essence of the fennel and onion. You can certainly use shrimp – just toss them in the stew the last five minutes or so – you don’t want to overcook them or they’ll become tough.

Infuse the freshness of herbs while the stew simmers through a bouquet garni.

It’s a simple thing to make – all you need is cheesecloth and kitchen twine. But if you don’t have access to fresh herbs you can use dried herbs.

Lemon zest and an additional pop of fresh parsley added at the end subtly elevate these spectacular flavors.

Serve with an extra dash of parsley, a sprinkling of Parmesan and a toasted baguette.

Mediterranean Stew

For the bouquet garni:

6 sprigs fresh parsley

6 sprigs fresh thyme

3 bay leaves

For the stew:

1-1/2 to 2 pounds boneless chicken breast, cut into 2” pieces

2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided

6 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1 medium eggplant – about 1-1/2 pounds, peeled and cubed into 1” pieces

1 large fennel bulb, cored and sliced very thin – about 2 cups

1 large sweet onion, chopped, about 1-1/2 cups

½ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper

1 teaspoon chopped garlic

¾ cup dry white wine

1 can Italian or San Marzona tomatoes – 28-ounces, broken up into pieces

2 cups chicken stock

1 teaspoon concentrated chicken base – such as “Better Than Bouillon”

¼ cup pitted Kalamata olives

Zest of 1 small lemon, about ½ teaspoon

2 tablespoons chopped parsley, plus additional for serving

Shredded Parmesan for serving

To make the bouquet garni:

Gather the parsley, thyme and bay leaves together and wrap them up in a piece of cheesecloth.

Tie the bundle together with kitchen twine to secure the herbs inside the cheesecloth. Loop a long piece of the twine through one the ties. Hang this piece of twine outside the Dutch oven – this makes it easy to remove the bouquet garni when the stew is finished.

Spread the chicken breast out and season with 1 teaspoon of the kosher salt. Set the chicken aside while you cook the eggplant.

Add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil to a large Dutch oven. Warm the oil over heat slightly above medium. When the oil is hot drop in half of the cubed eggplant. Cook for about 5 to 6 minutes until the eggplant softens and is cooked down a bit. Transfer to a bowl. Add an additional 2 tablespoons olive oil and cook the remaining eggplant then transfer it to the bowl with the first batch.

In the same pan add the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Reduce the heat to medium and add the chicken.

Stir in the sliced fennel and the chopped onion. Cook until the chicken is mostly cooked through and the fennel and onion are tender, about 10 to 12 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for an additional 2 minutes.

Pour in the white wine and stir to deglaze, removing any brown bits on the bottom of the pan. Stir in the tomatoes, the chicken stock and the concentrated chicken base.

Return the eggplant to the pan along with the olives, the bundle of herbs and the remaining kosher salt and the black pepper.

Bring the stew to a boil over medium heat then cover and reduce the heat to medium-low. Simmer for 35 minutes. Remove the bundle of herb and stir in the lemon zest and the chopped parsley. Simmer for an additional 5 minutes.

Serve with a sprinkling of shredded Parmesan cheese and chopped parsley.

Note: If you don’t have access to fresh herbs you can add 1 teaspoon dried parsley and ½ teaspoon dried thyme along with the bay leaves.

Mediterranean Stew, courtesy of Preserving Good Stock

February 15, 2019
: Makes 6 servings.

This is a surprisingly fresh and light stew. This beautiful stew is full of amazing flavors courtesy of gorgeous eggplant, fresh fennel and Kalamata olives. An unusual combination perfectly brightened with herbs and lemon zest!

By:

Ingredients
  • For the bouquet garni:
  • 6 sprigs fresh parsley
  • 6 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 3 bay leaves
  • For the stew:
  • 1-1/2 to 2 pounds boneless chicken breast, cut into 2” pieces
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 medium eggplant – about 1-1/2 pounds, peeled and cubed into 1” pieces
  • 1 large fennel bulb, cored and sliced very thin – about 2 cups
  • 1 large sweet onion, chopped, about 1-1/2 cups
  • ½ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon chopped garlic
  • ¾ cup dry white wine
  • 1 can Roma tomatoes – 28-ounces, broken up into pieces
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 teaspoon concentrated chicken base – such as “Better Than Bouillon”
  • ¼ cup pitted Kalamata olives
  • Zest of 1 small lemon, about ½ teaspoon
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley, plus additional for serving
  • Shredded Parmesan for serving
Directions
  • Step 1 To make the bouquet garni:
  • Step 2 Gather the parsley, thyme and bay leaves together and wrap them up in a piece of cheesecloth. Tie the bundle together with kitchen twine to secure the herbs inside the cheesecloth. Loop a long piece of the twine through one the ties. Hang this piece of twine outside the Dutch oven – this makes it easy to remove the bouquet garni when the stew is finished.
  • Step 3 Spread the chicken breast out and season with 1 teaspoon of the kosher salt. Set the chicken aside while you cook the eggplant.
  • Step 4 Add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil to a large Dutch oven. Warm the oil over heat slightly above medium. When the oil is hot drop in half of the cubed eggplant. Cook for about 5 to 6 minutes until the eggplant softens and is cooked down a bit. Transfer to a bowl. Add an additional 2 tablespoons olive oil and cook the remaining eggplant then transfer it to the bowl with the first batch.
  • Step 5 In the same pan add the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Reduce the heat to medium and add the chicken.
  • Step 6 Stir in the sliced fennel and the chopped onion. Cook until the chicken is mostly cooked through and the fennel and onion are tender, about 10 to 12 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for an additional 2 minutes.
  • Step 7 Pour in the white wine and stir to deglaze, removing any brown bits on the bottom of the pan.
  • Step 8 Stir in the tomatoes, the chicken stock and the concentrated chicken base. Return the eggplant to the pan along with the olives, the bundle of herbs and the remaining kosher salt and the black pepper.
  • Step 9 Bring the stew to a boil over medium heat then cover and reduce the heat to medium-low. Simmer for 35 minutes.
  • Step 10 Remove the bundle of herbs and stir in the lemon zest and the chopped parsley. Simmer for an additional 5 minutes.
  • Step 11 Serve with a sprinkling of shredded Parmesan cheese and chopped parsley.
  • Step 12 Note: If you don’t have access to fresh herbs you can add 1 teaspoon dried parsley and ½ teaspoon dried thyme along with the bay leaves.


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