I always liked chemistry as a youth. I would take all of these chemicals from my chemistry set and mix them together to see what I could make. None of it was eatable, but the results were always interesting and often odiferous.
As I got older, I graduated to kitchen chemistry. Unfortunately, my Mother put that endeavor to an end when I poured a bottle of vinegar into a bowl full of baking soda. I remember how cool it was watching the foaming mess expand across the kitchen counter and onto the floor. Mom was not amused.
Finally, as an adult, I was allowed to reenter the field of kitchen chemistry by my bride – but only when we were outdoors or camping where any unanticipated mess could either be washed down with the garden hose or shoveled up and buried.
After a considerable amount of experimentation and some eventual successes, I became a pretty darn good outdoor cook capable of brewing up some very tasty outdoor meals. One of these was “invented” on a recent trip to the mountains.
Now, before I get too far into how this dish is made, please be reminded that food prepared at home is never as good as food prepared while camping. Seriously, stuff we have enjoyed while out in the openness of nature and later prepared on the stove at home never tastes the same. I believe using electricity must have something to do with changing the flavor of food.
Stews are always great for meals when camping. A minimum of pots and pans are used and clean up is always easy. This one is no exception. It can be prepared in a Dutch oven or conventional stew pot on a campfire, gas stove or even a grill. I promise you it is delicious!
Nancy and I have been diligently trying to eat more fresh veggies and less red meat. Chicken and fish are becoming the protein source for many of our meals. This one easily meets the criteria.
I wanted to make a chicken stew, but not Brunswick stew. This is how it all came together.
Of course, chicken stew must contain chicken. For that ingredient, I selected a package of skinned, boneless fresh chicken tenderloins. Of course, any other part of the chicken may be used – it all depends on your taste buds and time devoted to preparation.
Next came a large bag of fresh, baby pealed carrots. These are a little more expensive than whole, regular size carrots that require peeling and chopping, but the convenience is worth the extra cost.
I noted the green beans in the produce section of the grocery store really looked fresh. They were firm, juicy and snapped when bent rather than appearing to be made of rubber. I scooped up a veggie bag full that I later washed and snapped into smaller pieces. This was perhaps the most time consuming part of preparation.
Of course, any stew needs a large sweet onion coarsely chopped. Vidalia Onions were in season and made an excellent added ingredient.
The stock for any good chicken stew needs to be either real chicken or perhaps vegetable broth. Either one of these can be loaded with salt and even extra grams of unwanted fat that are not really all that good for you. I selected two 32-ounce boxes of low sodium, fat free broth.
Seasoning became the challenge. Nowhere in the large grocery store where I initially shopped could I find any prepared chicken stew seasoning. While searching the isles I noted some packages of slow cooker chicken noodle soup seasoning. I decided to see how it would work. I grabbed two packages and added them to my grocery cart.
All of the ingredients were mixed into a large stew pot and placed on a small gas grill. Why the grill, you may ask? Well, even on low the gas outdoor stove put out too much heat and boiled the stew rather than simmered. I was afraid the higher heat would scorch the ingredients. The grill provided the perfect amount of heat. No water or additional seasoning was added to the stew.
The result was extremely tasty. In fact, both Nancy and I ate two full bowls! The smell of the simmering stew attracted the attention of several fellow campers that wanted to know where the delicious smells were coming from.
We had enough stew to feed eight people easily. With only two of us on this trip, we brought home a pot full of leftovers. Nancy took some with her for her lunch at school where the savory smell of the leftovers heating in the microwave once again attracted a lot of attention. Nancy shared with me that she proudly announced that her hubby had made the stew. That in itself surprised several of her coworkers and put a smile on her face.