Oh my goodness. Cream stew is probably one of the most delicious things ever. It’s not really Japanese fare, but I really never ate it until I came to Japan. I know that you can buy little cubes of roux for the stew in the grocery stores here, but they have a ton of salt and lord knows what else in them, so I prefer to make my own roux. It’s easy peasy and I know exactly what goes into my lovely stew. I am pretty terrible at guessing the quantities of the ingredients, since I basically go by how much will fit into the tiny pots I have, so I haven’t included any real measurements… ahem.
You will need:
- 1 onion
- 2 carrots
- 1 small head of broccoli
- 5 or so new potatoes, well washed (I never peel the skin off of potatoes, but if you’d like to, go for it!)
- *optional* napa cabbage
- 2 or 3 boneless chicken thighs, cut into nice bite-sized chunks.
- milk (I use low-fat milk, but whatever you like or have around is fine)
- 1 tablespoon-ish of butter
- 2 teaspoon-ishes of flour
- cooking oil (I use grapeseed oil)
First, add a tiny bit of oil to a nonstick pan and add your chicken and make sure it is cooked through all the way!! Then, remove the chicken and set it aside for later. In your pot, start sweating your chopped up onion with a tiny bit of oil (I like a large diced onion, not teeny tiny pieces) until translucent. Then, add your carrots, roughly chopped, and the new potatoes, diced. Add enough water to cover the whole shebang and let it come to a simmer. In the meantime, steam your broccoli in the microwave. I put mine in a little dish with a tiny bit of water. This way it gets cooked, but doesn’t turn soggy. Set this aside, maybe by the chicken.
Once your potatoes, carrots and onions have come to a simmer, cook them until you can easily put a fork through the carrots. The new potatoes shouldn’t take too too long to get cooked through all the way.
In a separate pot, start melting your butter and add the flour. Whisk it in until there are no lumps, but the mixture is thick. This is your roux. Then, add a ladleful of the water from the pot with the potatoes and dissolve your roux in this. Then, using a slotted spoon, start adding the carrots, potatoes and onions to the pot with the roux. Then add your chicken and broccoli. Once everything is in, add a little more of the potato/carrot water and pour in the milk until everything is covered. Add salt and pepper to taste. Stir gently. You don’t want to break up the broccoli, but you want to make sure the roux is evenly distributed so that everything becomes thickened – so it becomes kind of… stew-ey.
Let this simmer and thicken. If you find that your stew isn’t thickening, you can always add a little more flour. Don’t forget to add salt and pepper to taste. The butter has a little salt in it, but without a little salt + pepper the stew can be a little bland.
Finally, in the words of the greatest of the greats, miss J. Child: Bon Appétit!!
★ ★ ★
This is a really nice fall/winter dish, and can be modified with vegetables you like. Sometimes it’s good with mushrooms, which would be added at the end, with the broccoli and chicken. It is good even with cabbage (I like Napa cabbage myself) boiled along with the potatoes and carrots. You could even possibly add small pastas to this, but since the stew is pretty thick, I don’t find it necessary.