March can be a difficult month in Wisconsin. One day, we'll enjoy bright sunshine and temperatures that tease us with thoughts of spring. The next, a snow storm might bury the budding flowers with what seems like a cackling indifference. It's hard to know how to plan ahead. Thankfully, making sure dinner's on the table isn't as much of a challenge. I'm a fan of one-pot meals that combine the warmth of stew-like dishes with the flavors of warmer climates:
This amazing dish borrows flavors from sunny Spain and combines ingredients that aren't hard to find. If you don't happen to have the cherry tomatoes, you can skip them, although they do brighten up the meal a lot and help make it more of a seasonal transition dish. If you can't find chorizo, opt for Italian sausage or the like. It won't be the same, but it certainly won't be bad. Red pepper adds a lot of flavor and color, but other bell pepper colors will also work well. As is the case with many stew-like dishes, there are a fair number of tweaks that will be fine and allow you to cater to your tastes, the contents of your refrigerator and pantry, and mix things up a bit now and then.
You could also opt to use chicken thighs with the bones still in. Give it about another 10 minutes of cooking time to be sure you've cooked them through and be cautious of the bones when serving, but using bone-in thighs does tend to make the dish even heartier. I opt to go with boneless, skinless thighs to cut down on the fat content of the dish and to make eating it at the table just a bit easier.
Dishes like this are a great find. It's a meal in itself, although having some crusty bread on hand and maybe a handful of olives wouldn't hurt. Neither would a glass of your favorite syrah!
- 8 oz. soft chorizo
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 red bell pepper, cut into slices
- 1 small onion, halved and cut into slices
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- 3 medium-sized red potatoes, cut into bite-sized pieces
- 1 can (15 oz.) diced tomatoes
- 1 T. dried oregano
- 1 T. smoked paprika
- ¼ tsp. chipotle powder (adjust to taste for spiciness)
- 1½ tsp. salt
- Black pepper, to taste
- 8 oz. cherry tomatoes
- 1-2 T. lemon juice, to taste
Remove the chorizo from its casing and fry over medium heat in a large, nonstick deep skillet or pan. Add the garlic, red pepper, and onion. Sauté until the vegetables are soft, about 5 minutes. Add the chicken thighs, potatoes, diced tomatoes, and seasonings (oregano through black pepper). Stir lightly, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes or until the chicken is cooked and the potatoes are tender. Stir again.
Add the cherry tomatoes and lemon juice to the pan and cook an additional 5 minutes. Using a spoon, break the chicken pieces into small, bite-sized pieces. Serve it bowls with chunks of hearty bread to sop up the pan juices.
- Yields: 4 servings
- Preparation Time: 40 minutes