Tuesday, March 3, 2009
If you are thinking about a warming, hearty dinner, chicken
stew is one of those recipes that always spring to mind. You
can make lots of different versions of chicken stew and this
dish has a very interesting history spanning thousands of
A stew is two or more different foods simmered together in a
liquid. Hungarian goulash, beef stroganoff, coq au vin, and
beef bourguignon are all stews.
The "Apicius de re Coquinaria" is the oldest cookbook ever
discovered. It contains fish and lamb stew recipes, although
chicken had been domesticated by then too. There were three
Romans with that name living between 1 BC and 2 AD and the
book is believed to have been compiled by one of them.
You can actually go back even further because primitive
tribes used to boil foods together, which is what a stew
essentially is. Amazonian tribes used turtle shells as pans
and would boil the turtle entrails with some other
ingredients. Other cultures used large shells, such as
clam shells, instead of pans. Archeological evidence points
to this type of cookery going back seven or eight thousand
years. The invention of pottery, about ten thousand years
ago, made cooking stews easier.
Domestic fowl has been around for thousands of years and
chicken stew has been popular for a long time, with
different cultures having their own versions of this dish.
Examples include the spicy chicken stew found in Morocco or
the peanut butter chicken stew favored in parts of Africa.
Different Types of Chicken Stew
One very tasty chicken stew is called chicken booyah. This
is a cross between a soup and a stew and is popular in
northeast Wisconsin. In 1853, the first Belgian immigrants
arrived in Wisconsin and they spoke a language called
Walloon. It is believed that the word booyah comes from the
word bouillon and the non-French speaking Belgian just wrote
down how the word bouillon sounded to him phonetically.
Southern Chicken Stew
Perhaps you have tried southern chicken stew. It is a very
popular recipe in North Carolina. Southern chicken stew is
made with a whole chicken parboiled in a milk or cream based
sauce. Butter, salt, pepper, and other ingredients are used
in this recipe. The color of southern chicken stew varies
from white to yellow, depending how much margarine or butter
is used. It can be thin or thick in consistency and saltine
crackers are often served with southern chicken stew.
This dish is often served in the coldest months and "chicken
stew" can refer to a get together or gathering where this
food is served, rather than the food itself.
Chicken stew recipes are often thought of as comfort food
because they are comforting to eat and simple to prepare.
Chicken stew is commonly served at social get togethers,
such as church fellowships, community fundraisers, and
The chicken stew at these events will often be made in a big
cast iron or stainless steel cooking pot, maybe outdoors
over an open fire. You might get coleslaw, a grilled cheese
sandwich or rice served with the chicken stew.