Radical hospitality, nurturing comfort: Italian Chicken Stew

by Terry B on September 18, 2013

Chicken, potatoes, artichoke hearts, olives and capers create a hearty, rustic Italian stew. The recipe is adapted from Hedgebrook Cookbook: Celebrating Radical Hospitality. You could win your own copy of this cookbook. Recipe and contest details below.

Italian Chicken Stew Hedgebrook

One of the pleasures of writing Blue Kitchen is the opportunities we get to review cookbooks. We love food and we love the written word. Cookbooks give us both. The latest volume to come across our desk celebrates a place that has helped support the written word for 25 years now.

Hedgebrook is a writing retreat on Whidbey Island in Washington state, 48 acres with a farmhouse and six cabins. Since 1988, those cabins have been home to an impressive list of women writers, including Eve Ensler, Jane Hamilton, Carolyn Forché and Gloria Steinem, all enjoying what Hedgebrook calls “radical hospitality.”

Amy Wheeler, Executive Director of Hedgebrook, explains it like this: “As women, we are used to being the nurturers. We make sure others are fed, clothed and taken care of. We enable their work and visions, sometimes at the expense of our own.” Hedgebrook turns the tables, nurturing women writers, feeding them, caring for them and giving them time to write.

hedgebrook cookbookWith the Hedgebrook Cookbook: Celebrating Radical Hospitality, the famed retreat’s chefs share recipes prepared for the communal table in the farmhouse. Proceeds from the sale of the cookbook will support Hedgebrook’s mission. Written by Denise Barr and Julie Rosten and released just last week through She Writes Press, it contains more than ninety recipes as well as original writings by a number of Hedgebrook alumnae. It’s also filled with beautiful photography—of the food, of course, but also images of the place that resonate with peace, comfort and joy.

The recipes are rich in comfort foods—lavender shortbread, savory galettes, clam chowder, cauliflower mac and cheese… and this Italian chicken stew, with chunks of chicken, potatoes and artichoke hearts, brightened with capers, olives, red pepper flakes and lemon. Reading the recipe, we knew it would be good, but we were not prepared for just how good—big-flavored, rustic and soul satisfying.


Italian Chicken Stew
Adapted from Hedgebrook Cookbook: Celebrating Radical Hospitality
Serves 3 to 4

1 pound skinless, boneless chicken thighs (about 5)
3 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons capers, drained
zest and juice of 1 lemon
3/4 cup dry white wine
1-1/2 cups unsalted or reduced-sodium chicken broth (plus more, if needed)
1 pound yukon gold potatoes, scrubbed and cut into a 3/4-inch dice
8 to 12 ounces frozen artichoke hearts, thawed and quartered
1/2 cup finely chopped Italian parsley
1 cup whole green pitted olives, drained

Cut chicken into large pieces, 4 or 5 pieces per thigh. Mix flour, salt and pepper in a plastic bag. Add chicken, close bag and shake, making sure each piece is coated. Heat olive oil in a large heavy pot over medium flame. Sauté chicken in batches, cooking until lightly brown, turning once, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate and set aside.

Reduce heat, add garlic and fennel seed and cook until fragrant, stirring, about 45 seconds. Add red pepper flakes, capers and lemon zest and cook, stirring, about 30 seconds. (The fragrance will be amazing at this point.) Add wine and simmer, scraping up any brown bits from the bottom of the pot. Cook about 2 minutes.

Add broth and chicken, along with any accumulated juices, and return to a simmer. Add potatoes and continue to simmer about 15 minutes. Gently stir in artichokes with a wooden spoon, adding a little more broth, if needed. Everything doesn’t have to be submerged, but you want all the ingredients in contact with liquid. Partially cover pot and cook until potatoes are done, another 5 to 10 minutes.

Remove from heat and stir in olives, parsley and lemon juice. Serve immediately.

Giveaway Notes

Update: we have a winner! The randomly chosen winner of the Hedgebrook Cookbook: Celebrating Radical Hospitality was Angela, a regular Blue Kitchen reader and creator of the excellent blog Spinach Tiger. Congratulations, Angela, and thanks to everyone who entered.

Speaking of giveaways. Yes, as it happens, I just did a giveaway a couple of weeks ago. The randomly chosen winner of the Calphalon Williams-Sonoma Elite Nonstick 10-inch fry pan was Jeri, a loyal reader. Congratulations, Jeri, and thanks to everyone who entered. (Jeri, in fairness to other readers, feel free to comment on this post—I always love what you add to the conversation—but you’re ineligible to win this time.)


{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

randi September 18, 2013 at 10:20 am

This looks like a really nice change from the regular stews I make. At first look it seemed like it might be too tangy but I think I’m thrown by the artichokes. I am not familiar with frozen artichoke hearts and assume they are not as tangy as the jarred.
I just had a peek at the Hedgebrook website. Looks like a relaxing place to do some writing. That clam chowder picture looks divine!!

kitchenriffs September 18, 2013 at 10:39 am

Gosh, this has a really interesting mix of flavors! I don’t think I’d have thought to mix fennel seeds with olives and capers, but as I think about the combo, it sounds pretty good. Both the recipe and the book sound excellent — thanks.

Jenn September 18, 2013 at 10:50 am

This sounds like the perfect fall dish! And most of the ingredients are ones I always keep on hand, so I could make this anytime. Thanks for sharing!

Terry B September 18, 2013 at 10:58 am

Randi, you’re exactly right. The frozen artichoke hearts aren’t packed in brine like the jarred ones, so they just taste like artichokes.

Kitchenriffs, I can’t say enough about how delicious all these flavors were together. And interestingly, even though there was only a half teaspoon of salt in the flour mixture and I used unsalted chicken broth (how amazing that this product is finally readily available, letting cooks decide how much salt they want to add), I didn’t have to add any salt at the end. The olives, capers and artichoke hearts provided all the extra salt the dish needed.

GH Quinn September 18, 2013 at 3:08 pm

Terry, I think you are on the right track here….the combination of ingredients and the interplay among them is the strong attraction in the recipe.

Toni Giarnese September 18, 2013 at 7:28 pm

I’d like to take a turn at the Hedgebrook table. Where better to find peace, comfort and joy than in words and good food. :)

James Chini September 18, 2013 at 8:39 pm

I am not at all a chicken fan but this may just alter my bias!

[email protected] September 18, 2013 at 9:22 pm

I always do a quick run through of ingredients and I can tell how good this would be and so in sync with the flavors I love. And, it would be so nice to win a cookbook close to my birthday.

Mary September 18, 2013 at 10:18 pm

Yum! Chicken Stew sounds wonderful as the mercury drops here in Montana. Thank you for sharing.

Teal Lockard September 19, 2013 at 8:02 am

Yum! This recipe sounds delicious. I always use frozen artichokes since I found them…so much better than the canned.

Martina September 19, 2013 at 9:46 am

This sounds delish! I’ve never cooked with artichoke hearts or fennel seeds so making this will be an adventure for me.

altadenahiker September 19, 2013 at 12:37 pm

I find chicken soup smells better than it tastes, and I’ll bet this smells fantastic.

Karl September 19, 2013 at 3:35 pm

Another cool recipe to add to my to-try list. Thanks!

TRNL September 19, 2013 at 4:43 pm

Very nice. Had no choke hearts so used fennel root instead (so omitted fennel seeds). Also no olives so used a few more capers. Sacrificed some very rich chicken/turkey stock and it was well worth it. Great recipe! Thanks.

Kat September 20, 2013 at 7:26 am

I may have to add fennel seed to the pantry to try this one. I’ll have to wait for a night when my mother and sister are coming over, though. My husband has to be hard pressed to try a dish featuring whole olives. Maybe with home made bread he’d give it a go…

Anita September 26, 2013 at 4:01 am

Commenting from faarr away!

Greg September 27, 2013 at 7:35 am

I made a gluten-free version by simply substituting corn starch for the flour. It was breathtakingly delicious, even without the gluten.

Susie September 27, 2013 at 3:14 pm

I love it when you post recipes that inspire non-cooks to cook!

GHQuinn September 27, 2013 at 3:14 pm

I’ve had several friends ask me questions about the olives in this recipe. Pitted, obviously, but are these the jarred kind?

I usually have some green jarred ones, but the black olives that populate my fridge door are usually from a bulk section of Fairway.

Terry B September 27, 2013 at 3:47 pm

Thanks for the comments, everyone, and keep them coming.

GHQuinn, your question brings up a good point. One of the toughest challenges for this post was finding pitted olives not stuffed with something or other. I went to two stores and looked at countless jars (the ones at the salad bar were the size of golf balls, way out of scale for the dish). Finally, on the bottom shelf, beneath the fancy jars, I found humble canned green olives. Checking the ingredient list, I was impressed—nothing but olives, water and sea salt. They were perfect.

Shaunab September 29, 2013 at 5:58 pm

Impressive looking cookbook!!

[email protected] October 9, 2013 at 8:38 pm

I got my book in the mail last week. LOVE it. Truly, it’s a book that represents the foods I love, presented the way I love to present them. I could eat every dish from it and will refer to it often. Thanks again. Believe it or not, I win a lot on line, but this is one of favorite wins.

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