Learning how long things take to cook is critical. I've learned through trial and error. In tonight's recipe, I included the following:
- Boneless skinless chicken breast
- Fresh chopped tomato
- Bell Pepper
- Canned pinto beans
- Chicken and mushrooms, cook them on the dry/oil side to encourage browning. Mushrooms will emit water, but allow it to cook out before adding the rest. If you used onion, it would go here too.
- Zucchini. This will add moisture to the sauce so anything you want browned will stop browning once you add zucchini or any other watery vegetable such as eggplant or squash.
- Fresh peppers. Peppers especially you don't want to over cook. Leave the soft peppers for fajitas. In this dish, good body comes from allowing some of the vegetables to remain cooked but crisp, and peppers are a good choice for that. I normally use sweet bell peppers, but today I included home grown poblanos too.
- Chopped fresh tomato. This goes in at the very end. The tomato breaks down adding flavor to the sauce, but you don't want to cook it so long that you've lost your chunks of tomato. As such, you want to chop the pieces larger than smaller. I include the whole tomato, seedy pulp and all.
- Canned pinto beans you stir in at the end. Don't worry about some of them getting mushed as you stir. They thicken the sauce and give it body.
Combine and stir in a bowl and let marinate for at least 20-30 minutes:
- 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts chopped in 1/2 inch pieces.
- 3 minced fresh garlic cloves
- 2 T white wine, dry or sweet depending on what you like
- 2 T olive oil
- 2 tsp corn starch
- 2 medium sized zucchini
- 1 sweet bell pepper
- 2 cups chopped mushrooms
- 2 cups chopped fresh tomato
- 2 T chopped fresh parsley
- 1 T chopped fresh basil or 1 tsp dried
- 1 T chopped fresh oregano or 1 tsp dried
- 3 T butter (not margarine!)
- 2 cans pinto beans drained and rinsed
- white wine--have a bottle handy, i.e. don't drink it all, you might need it for the recipe.
Into a hot pan, pour your chicken mixture and cook until pieces start to whiten and lightly brown.
Add the mushrooms and continue to cook until the liquid is gone and you are left with just the oil. You want this relatively dry but not so much to burn the garlic. If needed, add a little more olive oil if the pan gets too dry. Salt and pepper this mixture while cooking.
Once the chicken and mushrooms are cooked through and have started to brown, add the zucchini and toss for a minute or two until it warms. Then add the peppers, parsley, basil and oregano, keeping your pan on high heat. Pour in a little more white wine if you didn't drink it all. If you did, dammit, you'll have to open another bottle. At this point, you want to start building a sauce, so a medium amount of liquid in the pan is good. But not too much. Tomatoes will add more liquid and you're trying to make a stew, not soup.
When the peppers have begun to cook but are still crisp, and the zucchini is just barely starting to soften, add the chopped tomato and canned beans. Keep this at high heat while letting the tomato soften and break down a bit. Some of the beans might mush up. That is okay. They will add body to the sauce.
At the very end, turn the heat off completely and add 3T of butter in pats. The butter will flavor and thicken the sauce even further. You want it to melt but not cook while incorporating it into your mixture.
Here is a photo of the stew in my pan. I've cooked this in a teflon wok, but a large sauce pan works too.
Here is the final product in the bowl. Managing the liquid is key. I like it on the thicker and dryer side, but watch it as you go and add wine as you desire to get the consistency you want.
You can top this with grated Parmesan. This would be delicious with crusty bread and a nice glass of wine. Enjoy!!