College sounds like a terrible addition to a chicken and parsnips dish. It would make it taste funny! But I am a poor planner and so I am jamming two wholly unrelated things together, plus I am giving you a recipe I sort of Frankenstein-ed together just because I liked it. Hey, you get what you pay for, here.
First, college: It’s that magical time of year when everyone with a high school senior is freaking out about college applications, so I wrote about it for Alpha Mom. You should probably go read it if college applications are in your kid’s future, because if I learned anything while asking around, it was that College Insanity has this pernicious habit of making itself look totally reasonable to its victims. To wit: Some people told me with COMPLETELY STRAIGHT FACES that their kid applied to 20+ schools. TWENTY. OR MORE. They didn’t think that was weird at all. That’s because crazy doesn’t know it’s crazy, but don’t worry, because I’m only too happy to point out how utterly bonkers that is.
Second, I made a super yummy dinner last night and it made me happy, though I discovered on Facebook that apparently parsnips are quite polarizing. People seem to either love them or hate them. Me, I love them. Otto, too. Chickadee had an alternate meal because we were eating animals, and then Monkey was very suspicious and told me the parsnips “taste like nothing” so I told him to shut up and eat his nothing. (I kid. I didn’t tell him to shut up.) If you’d like the recipe and a lot of parenthetical commentary, read on.
Chicken and Parsnip Stew (based on this recipe)
4 stalks celery w/ leaves, diced
4 medium sweet onions, diced
6 large carrots (peeled/chopped)
1 pound parsnips (peeled/chopped) (mine came in a 1-pound bag; it was about 7 good-sized parsnips)
1.5 – 2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breast (the original recipe used chicken thighs and those would be great, too… all I had in the freezer was white meat)
4 cups chicken broth (one box, if you’re using the kind from a box, which I was, because I lost all my homemade stock the last time our freezer crapped out, thanks for bringing up that painful memory)
2-4 cups vegetable broth (start with two and decide if you want more)
2 cups dry white wine
1 inch-long “knob” of peeled ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced
thyme, rosemary, basil, salt, lemon pepper
thickening slurry of your choosing (I used coconut flour/milk, but if gluten isn’t an issue, all-purpose flour would be fine)
The original recipe called for all-day cooking in a crock pot, with a note that you could achieve a similar result in a 350-degree oven with a dutch oven and about 3-4 hours. I am ALL ABOUT those all-day crock pot recipes, believe me. But because 1) I am a dumbass who forgot to think about dinner until about 2:00 and 2) my chicken was frozen solid, I did this in sort of a fussy way. I started the pot on the stove, bringing the broth, wine, garlic and ginger to a boil, then simmering the chicken (whole) in it for about 45 minutes. While that was going, I chopped all my veggies; then I fished out the ginger and dumped the veggies in, tasted, seasoned, and moved the pot to the oven. If you want to make it in a crock pot, go ahead. Also if you have more time than I did, even frozen chicken would be fine just in the oven. I was sort of hedging my bets because no one likes salmonella for dinner.
A few notes on flavors: I added ginger and garlic because I love ginger and garlic. Also I used dry spices because that’s what I had, and while I went heavy on the originally-called-for thyme (maybe a tablespoon to start, and more later?), I also added a little rosemary and basil because why not? You don’t have to. In fact, I suspect this recipe is VERY forgiving and you can do whatever you like. Similarly, I used lemon pepper because I like it, but you could use regular pepper and add lemon juice or skip the lemon altogether (but don’t, because chicken loves lemon). I would love to tell you how much of each spice to use, but I just taste and adjust as I go. (But always do salt last, especially if you’re using non-homemade broth. That stuff tends to be salty.)
And a note on wine: I doubled and tweaked the original recipe, which called for an equal measure of broth and wine. I love wine as much as the next person, but that seemed like a ridiculous amount of wine to me. Also, I’m not going to lie, part of the reason I did the stovetop-simmering was to make sure the chicken was cooked, but it was also to make sure the alcohol cooked off. So I went from their 2 cups wine/2 cups broth of booziness to 2 cups wine/AT LEAST 6 cups of broth (more if you like) and some rapid cook time. (Getting my kid drunk was not on my to-do list for yesterday.)
Anyway. I put the whole shebang in the oven for about 3 hours, then I pulled it out, removed the chicken pieces and shredded them, added them back to the pot, tasted/adjusted spices, and made my thickening slurry. I hate the word slurry because it doesn’t sound like anything you want to eat, but basically it’s just a 1:1 mix of a thickener and a liquid, so I did a couple of tablespoons of coconut flour and a couple of tablespoons of milk (heated in the microwave to aid in dissolving the flour), and then mixed that into the pot to take it from “soup” to “stew.” I did NOT thicken it very much, because coconut flour is finicky and can turn gummy (which I didn’t want), but it was sort of enough to make it heartier overall. (Want it thicker? Add more slurry.) That said, I used the aforementioned 6 cups of broth and next time I will use 8. This was mostly meat and veggies and the broth was deliiiiiiiiiiicious and I wanted more of it.
If you don’t like parsnips you could just make this with potatoes, instead, I guess. But to me the whole point was the parsnips because I like parsnips. Also I like saying parsnips. PARSNIPS PARSNIPS PARSNIPS! (I am aware that I’m a dork.)