Happy accidents (alternate title: When being a screw-up works out)

I do all of our meal planning on Saturday nights. That gives me a chance to assemble a shopping list in time to actually know what to buy when we go to the grocery store after church on Sunday.

This makes me sounds very responsible and organized, no? Of course, in reality I’m an organizational disaster. A solid 25% of the time, I forget to meal plan. I’ve even programmed a reminder into my phone, to play annoying muzak at me at 8 pm on Saturday night with a note: “Meal plan! Make a shopping list!” I still don’t do it that quarter of the time.

And a solid 50% of the time that I do meal plan, I forget my shopping list at home, leaving me frantically pulling random crap off the shelves at the store, trying to mentally assemble meals for the week. When this happens, I go home and promptly spend the next hour reconciling my meal plan with the mismatched assortment of food that came home with me, figuring out how to turn a turnip, a radish and a clove of garlic into a pasta sauce.

Sometimes – sometimes – I get it all right. I meal plan Saturday night. I remember my list Sunday morning. I find everything I need, and I go home feeling like a Real Grown Up.

This is a trap. Because then I coast on feeling like a Real Grown Up through the afternoon… until 4 o’clock, when I realize that the dinner I had planned for Sunday evening, and for which I have thawed a quartered roasting chicken, required several hours of preparation. Like, 24 hours of preparation. That thawed chicken? Yeah, I was supposed to marinate that yesterday. And then cut it up this morning, so that I could assemble it into a stew that needs to simmer for at least two hours. Meaning, no later than an hour before I dragged my behind into the kitchen to check my list and find out what I was supposed to be making, anyway.

So. I made something up. And you know what? It was good. Really good. Way better than the stew I’d planned. I’m officially adding it to our recipe repertoire. I like it because it has really rich, complementary flavors. Husband likes it because it’s a chicken stew that tastes a lot like a beef stew, and he likes beef stew. Kids like it because it’s yummy and that’s good enough for them.

I share now. Measurements are approximate because I made it up as I went along and estimated in order to write down what I’d done that made such magic.

I call it:

Super Awesome Hearty Chicken Stew
(This fed 4 in my house, with a little left over)

Ingredients:

1 roasting chicken, quartered
3 stalks celery
3 large carrots
1 med yellow onion
4 tbsp. butter
1 c. peas (frozen or fresh)
3 medium potatoes
red wine (~1.5 – 2 cups)
chicken stock (~ 1.5 – 2 cups)
flour
salt
pepper

Preheat oven to 350.

Arrange chicken pieces in a large flame-proof skillet (I used my iron skillet). Cover generously with red wine. Bake for ~1 hour, or until done.

Remove skillet from oven and allow chicken to cool slightly. Transfer chicken pieces to a plate (leave drippings in skillet). Slice meat from roughly half of the chicken – I cut from both thighs and one of the breasts. Slice meat into bite-sized pieces and return to skillet.

Dice celery, carrots and onion. Melt butter in small pan, add veggies, and saute until soft. Transfer veggies/butter to skillet with chicken meat and drippings and turn on heat under the skillet. Dice potatoes – remember the smaller you cut them, the faster they’ll cook. Add peas and potatoes to skillet. Pour in enough chicken stock to just cover chicken/veggies, add ~1/3 c. flour, and stir to combine. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Simmer until potatoes are soft, ~20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Salt and pepper to taste.

Enjoy! Let me know if you like it.