What do you do, when you have no inspiration what to cook at all? I mean, when nothing seems to be the right dish for the day? Thankfully, I have a nice repertoire of useful recipes to fall back on, but I must admit, those aren’t my favorite cooking days.
I prefer the days when inspiration flows with every food item I see. Like that day I made up this Turkish chicken stew with lots of veggies.
When inspiration doesn’t hit me before 3 pm, I usually get grumpy. I can assure you, that’s not a great mood to come up with something creative to cook that night, at all. Usually I’ll turn it in a ‘boring but good ol’ roasted potatoes, sausage and a salad’-day.
The day before yesterday wasn’t anything like that.
I drove by work for some small talk and got offered to stay for a beer tasting to test some new beers we might want to serve there. Beer stew was written all over the open and not yet emptied bottles. Great, as I knew I still had a few nice beers in my fridge I could cook with at home, left-over from our King’s Day party.
Got on the road again, lunched with a not so great chocolate eclair and walked a bit around to burn the calories immediately. Couldn’t find what I was looking for though, so I drove back home.
Only to make a layover at the car wash, not yet realizing I wouldn’t head home straight after that either. While the guys took care of my car, I walked up to the Indian store on the next block to check out their veggies. In the freezer aisle, the chippati and naan breads got my eye and I was tempted to buy them. An Indian dish to cook myself however, didn’t pop up.
Instead, the huge bags of various kinds of rice made me think of pilaf, and since I have a great recipe for chicken and eggplant pilaf I decided to go for something like that. Only the eggplants sold at the store weren’t fresh enough to buy.
Back at the car wash I needed to wait some more, so I googled for more pilaf inspiration. A Turkish eggplant stew with tomatoes and zucchini lit up on my mobile screen. It inspired me to go check out the Middle Eastern/Persian store down the road for its fresh veggies.
There I fell in love with some kind of a flatbread again; super fresh pita’s this time. They only needed to be grilled to be awesome and very summerly. Bought an eggplant, but also some small Persian cucumbers, and got better zucchini, a red bell pepper and chicken drumsticks at the supermarket across the street.
Finally at home, I ended up making this Turkish chicken stew with lots of veggies, but no eggplant. I also made a simple cucumber salad with some olive oil, fresh lemon juice, mint and oregano, and this baba ganoush (eggplant!) on the side. Loved it with the grilled pita’s, but a simple plain rice only pilaf would have been great as well.
And the beers? I opened one to drink with it.
Turkish chicken stew with lots of veggies
Like all stews, it takes some time to properly brown the meat and veggies (for more flavor), but after that you can relax and enjoy a nice glass of wine. Or a mild, light beer if you like.
salt and pepper
3 tablespoons of olive oil, maybe a bit more
1 small carrot
3 king oyster mushrooms
1 red bell pepper
1 small zucchini
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon piment
1/2 teaspoon cumin
70 ml | 1/4 cup of water
1/2 teaspoon paprika
Fry the chicken. Coat the chicken with salt and pepper. In a Dutch oven, heat the olive oil till hot and brown all sides of the chicken, while carefully turn them with a thong. Can take a good minute of 10.
Brown the veggies. Clean all of ’em and cut in nice bite-size pieces, the harder vegetables a bit smaller than the softer ones. Remove the chicken from the pan and brown successively the onion, carrot, mushrooms, bell pepper and zucchini. You might want to add some more olive oil in between.
Note: When browning, make sure not to overcrowd your pan by adding too much ingredients all at once. This will lower the temperature of your oil and make the browning more difficult to occur.
Note 2: When browning, make sure not to undercrowd your pan by adding just a few ingredients, either. The oil will become too hot to handle.
You more or less want to slightly cover the bottom of your pan. So fry he veggies in 2 or even 3 batches.
Let it braise. Mix the cinnamon, piment and cumin with the water and add with the chicken to the pan. Let simmer on very low heat (it doesn’t need to boil) until the chicken meat falls from the bones. About 40 minutes.
Taste it and add paprika, salt and pepper for more flavor.
Serve with fresh pita’s that you shortly grill or heat in an oven/toaster.