I celebrated Rosh Hashanah with my sister and brother-in-law and their kids. Driving up to Round Rock, I called my parents and grandparents to wish them a happy new year. When I got there, we stumbled through the prayers, lit the candles, and then sat down to dinner. I won’t tell you what we had, mainly because it was the least kosher meal ever prepared and my sister made me promise I wouldn’t mention it on-line. After dinner we played, my niece danced, and then I got back in my car to head home and prepare the next night’s meal.
While I spent the holiday with my family, I wanted to have a celebration with my friends as well. It’s a good excuse to have everyone over and cook (I’ll go with any excuse for that really). The one thing I knew I wanted to make for sure was the chicken. As the numbers attending the potluck grew, I decided roasting whole chickens would be way too time-consuming and I’d be checking things constantly just as folks arrived. So I went for the fool-proof slow-cooking method instead. My hands would be free for wine and socializing while the chicken cooked. I could eat this for days.
Stewed Chicken with Prunes and Green Olives
5-6 pounds chicken pieces (I used almost all brown meat)
2 cups pitted green olives, rinsed
1-1 1/2 pitted prunes
2 small onions, about 1 1/2 cups, quartered
1 whole head of garlic, pieces separated, skin on
1-2 cups chicken broth
2 cups dry white wine
1/2 cup arrowroot powder*
Preheat oven to 300. Sprinkle the chicken with salt on both sides. In a large skillet, brown both sides of each chicken piece over medium heat. Work in batches and set the browned chicken in a large roasting dish. About 2-3 pounds in, the skillet will be full of blackened bits: pour 1/2 cup of wine into the empty skillet and scrape up the brown bits. Pour the liquid into the roasting dish. Finish browning the remainder of the chicken and repeat the deglazing process once more at the end. The chicken should be in one layer and not overlapping. Crowded is just fine though.
When all the chicken is in the roasting pan, add the onions, garlic cloves, and olives. Pour 1 cup of the broth over the chicken and the remaining cup of wine. The liquid should reach about 1/3-1/2 way up the chicken pieces. Cover tightly with tinfoil or a lid and cook for one hour. After an hour, remove tinfoil and check on the liquid. If it has reduced below 1/3 of the chicken, add more chicken broth mixed with up to 1 cup of water.
Cover again and roast for another hour. At this point, the chicken should be almost done. Turn the pieces over, cover, and cook for about 45 minutes to 1 hour more.
When the chicken is starting to fall off the bone, remove from the roasting pan from the oven. In a saucepan, put 1/4 of a cup of the arrowroot powder and whisk in 1/2 cup of the chicken liquid. When the powder has dissolved, scoop as much of the liquid from the roasting pan as possible into that mixture. This should be about 4-8 cups of liquid. The sauce should be gravy-thick. If need-be, add the rest of the arrowroot and whisk well. Pour the gravy back over the chicken and let all of the juices blend together, this will thin it back out a bit.
Serve hot with lots of sauce poured over.
*A combination of glutinous rice flour and arrowroot also worked.