A New Year, A New Roommate, and my Good Old Crock-pot

Happy New Year to you all! I’m a few days late, but it took me until today to finally feel ready to start this new year. I got stuck in a few days of limbo, holding on to some things I didn’t quiet want to let go of from this last year. Plus, the apartment was so full of celebrating guests that I hardly had the time or space to realize I’d entered a new year already. The guests are gone now, and I spent the whole day alone cleaning and cooking and scrubbing away the traces of last year. Now here I am, thankful to be clean and well-fed, and ready to take on the new year. This weekend Joe and I welcomed a third roommate to our little home: Peter now resides in the extra small bedroom. It’s nice to have three people here again… the more mouths to feed the better!

I’ve been bringing out my good old crock-pot at least once a week lately. There’s nothing better than coming in off the cold city streets in the evening to find a big pot of stew ready and waiting on my kitchen counter, filling the whole apartment with mouth-watering fumes. Today I concocted this tomato chicken stew. Simple and soul-warming, it was just the right meal to start my new year with. The chicken was so tender and soft; a toothless baby could have eaten it. I ate mine on top of some creamy polenta with a spicy balsamic arugula salad on the side. It was such an easy breeze to make: I had everything in the crock-pot within ten minutes around 4pm in the afternoon and it was ready to serve by eight. If you want to make this in the morning to have it ready for dinner, simply cook it on low instead of on high and you should be able to let it cook all day long. It would have been nice to have some fresh basil to throw on top of this stew… so if you have some I would recommend that too.

Tomato Chicken Stew
serves 3

1 (14.5 oz) can stewed tomatoes
2 Tbs olive oil
3 chicken thighs, skins removed
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 Tbs minced fresh rosemary 
3/4 cup white wine
salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 cup water
1 tsp tomato paste
fresh chopped parsley, for garnish

Turn the crock-pot on to high. 
Pour the tomatoes into the crock-pot and, using your fingers, pull them apart into smaller pieces.
Heat 1 Tbs of the oil in a medium frying pan over medium-high heat.
Add the onion and saute, stirring frequently, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes.
Add the garlic and the rosemary and stir for 1 minute.
Add 1/2 cup of the wine and cook for another minute, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan, then pour the contents of the pan into the crock-pot.
Heat the remaining Tbs of oil in the pan on high heat, then brown each side of the chicken thighs, about 2 minutes per side, then put the chicken in the crock-pot.
Deglaze the pan with the remaining 1/4 cup of wine, scraping up any browned bits, and pour that into the crock-pot too.
Sprinkle some salt and pepper into the crock-pot, give it a stir, then cover and cook for about 4 hours (and up to six).
About half an hour before serving, stir the stew with a fork to pull the chicken apart and off the bones, then stir in the water and tomato paste and discard the bones.