Monday, February 2, 2009

Waterzooi (Dutch chicken stew)

Waterzooi (Dutch chicken stew), adapted from Je Mange la Ville
(yes, I promise that there's a piece of chicken in there)

While I was in Belgium with Mom and Dad, we came across waterzooi at a restaurant. We spent about 5 min trying to pronounce it, and finally had to get a pronunciation and description from the waitress (or waiter? I can't remember...). Anyway, when I came across a recipe, I had to make it.

Waterzooi (adapted from Je Mange la Ville)

1 Tbsp olive oil
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
8 oz. button mushrooms, sliced
1 1/4 cup white wine, divided
2 carrots, cut into matchsticks
2 celery stalks, cut into matchsticks
2 medium onions, sliced
1 leek, sliced
5 garlic cloves, sliced
1/2 tsp marjoram (could also use tarragon, basil, oregano, or thyme)
salt and pepper
2 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup half-and-half
1 tsp arrowroot powder (you can use cornstarch)
1/4 cup parsley, chopped

Heat olive oil in dutch oven over medium heat. Brown chicken on both sides, then remove chicken and set aside. Add mushrooms to pot and cook until they get soft. Add 1/4 cup wine to pot to deglaze, and allow to cook for a few minutes. Remove mushrooms and set aside. In large bowl, mix carrots, celery, onion, leek, garlic, marjoram, and some salt and pepper. Add half of this veggie mix to the pot, then put chicken and mushrooms on top of veggies, and finally add the last half of the veggies. Pour the rest of the wine and the broth over everything (if this doesn't almost cover the chicken, add some water or more broth) and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and allow to simmer for 25-30 min. Remove chicken from pot, increase heat to high, and reduce liquid for about 5 min. Combine half-and-half and arrowroot in a small bowl and add to pot. Allow to cook for 2 more min. Put chicken back in the pot, remove from heat, and garnish with parsley. Serves 3.

Warning: This will make your kitchen smell wonderful. You'll be tempted to eat the mushrooms while you're cooking them in the wine. Don't. Try to wait until it's done because it will be even better.

It doesn't remind me of Belgium - mussels are the food that makes me think of Belgium, but then that reminds me of the horrible rash that I get after eating them :(. Regardless, this tastes great. The chicken was remarkably tender, juicy, and extremely flavorful. And the veggies are perfect too! You can eat it like a stew, but I chose to eat it as chicken and veggies with a sauce on top.

And a fun piece of trivia: waterzooi means "watery mess" in Dutch. Traditionally it was made with fish, but chicken has become more popular. So, I guess to be completely accurate I should call it Kippenwaterzooi. But perhaps I should try it with fish...

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