Monday, December 7, 2015

Gypsy Stew: A Story and a Delicious Main Dish

                                                      A Bowl of Gypsy Stew

We got an idea at the end of last week to make a recipe we hadn't made in quite some time. Don't you love when you remember an old favorite and then set out to make it? 

I thought it would be fun to ask folks on The Philly Foodist Facebook page if they had made this great old recipe - or at least if they had eaten it.  No one had! So here it is.  At this time of year it is perfect. The recipe makes a lot; it's soothing and delicious for these hectic days getting ready for and celebrating Holidays; and it is really cost effective. 

The backstory, by the way, involves tales of folks moving from place to place, living on the road, needing to feed many hungry mouths and not having a whole lot of money. Thus, they decided to create a communal feast, a and would ask each diner to contribute an ingredient.  

I give you Gypsy Stew

Note:  this recipe requires a little bit of work, but it is so worth it!  


1 Whole Stewing Chicken (preferably range raised/drug free)
2 quarts of low salt chicken stock
6 medium yellow onions, peeled and quartered
6 whole tomatoes (we've always used canned - a 16 oz can' minus the liquid - save that for something else - is perfect), halved or quartered depending on size
1 bottle of dry sherry - cheap dry sherry. Definitely cheap! Don't go all high end, the flavor will not be the same.  We use Christian Brothers Dry Sherry
3/4 pound block of sharp, white cheddar cheese, cut into thick slices
6-8 pepperocini peppers (the whole ones in the jar are perfect), stems removed, cut in half
Good crusty bread


Put the chicken and the onions in a very large pot - make sure you have plenty of room to add all of the stock. (Voice of experience speaking here) - leave plenty or space
Add all of the chicken stock
Add half of the bottle of dry sherry
Put a lid on the pot, bring the contents to a boil over medium high heat
Reduce to a simmer and simmer for an hour - check occasionally to be sure it does not start to boil
After the hour, remove the chicken to a bowl (so you can be sure to collect all of the juices) and let it cool
While the chicken is cooling, add the tomatoes, the other half of the bottle of sherry, and the peppers to the broth - put the lid on the pot and turn the heat off
When the chicken is cool enough to handle, cut the wings off, cut the thigh and leg pieces off - separate the legs from the thigh, cut the thigh in half
Remove the breasts from the bones and cut each breast in thirds
Pick any other visible chicken from the bones
Put all of the chicken back into the pot with any juices that have collected in the bowl

Bring the pot to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for at least an hour (this is a very flexible recipe, cooking time wise; at least an hour on the simmer but if you need to, just leave it on simmer for two hours) 

Check it occasionally - do not allow it to boil!

To serve: if you have them, use wide pasta bowls or soup bowls (see above); lay slices of bread with slices of cheddar cheese on top of the bread and layer the hot stew over the bread slices. Have more bread and cheddar available. Enjoy. And you will. This recipe makes a lot of Gypsy Stew (see below). Believe me, You will find yourself craving it. There is no way to accurately explain here the aroma and the flavor of the broth and the chicken and then the melting cheddar.  It's truly heavenly. 


For Bill - wherever you are. Thank you for this. 

Cherish Real Food!

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