April is here at least! The trees in our yard are full of fluffy blossoms. The days are getting longer. And I’ve been spending a little time each afternoon basking in it all as I ride my bike. Spring is wonderful! It’s also time for this month’s #EatSeasonal roundup. This month I’m sharing a recipe for Chicken Rice Stew with Mushrooms and Leeks that was inspired by new favorite show, A Chef’s Life, on PBS. I started watching a few weeks ago and after the first episode, I was 100% hooked.
The show features Chef Vivian Howard and her husband, Ben Knight, who have moved back to Vivian’s (very small) hometown in Eastern North Carolina from New York City to open a restaurant. Together they have a set of twins, two restaurants, and all the stress and excitement to go along with it. Each episode is centered around a seasonal ingredient that Vivian weaves throughout the ever-changing menu at their main restaurant called Chef and The Farmer.
In another life, I think I would have really liked to have been a chef. I dream of going to culinary school sometimes still. But I guess I have the best of both worlds in that I don’t have that pressure and stress of running a restaurant, but I get to cook and experiment all I want (and eat!) at home.
Click on the image above to see April’s Seasonal Produce Guide on The Vintage Mixer.
Chef Vivian does what I also love doing – recreating recipes from her childhood using seasonal ingredients. (My recipes have a lot less pork. Ha!) I found myself really coveting her Southern upbringing and all of the memories that go with it. Growing up in the Mountain West has its own charms though, so I can’t complain too much. And now I live in a fantastic new-to-me city that is in the heart of farm country. Watching A Chef’s Life makes me super excited to explore all of that now that winter is over.
In one of the early episodes from the series, Chef Vivian and her darling mom make an “old timey” chicken and rice stew. The whole chicken is boiled in salted water for quite awhile, then then removed from the pot, shredded, and added back in along with rice. The whole thing is served up warm and cozy like a stew. I got a huge craving for chicken and rice like my mom used to make, though it looked completely different than this recipe!
I grew up eating a chicken and rice casserole that was topped with (I think) cream of something soup. The whole thing went into the oven and came out magically baked and delicious.
This recipe takes a little bit more time than what I usually like to make these days. In a sea of raw salads and green smoothies, this was a nice change, and well worth the extra effort. I don’t know about you, but a good, deep-flavored chicken stew really hits the spot in the most satisfying, unassuming way. It’s one of those ultimate comfort foods. I cut a few corners using homemade bone broth I already had on hand and pre-cooked chicken. We enjoyed this together as a family on a Sunday night. My girls love mushrooms, but they weren’t so sure about the leeks. After a few spoonful of the hearty, warm stew they decided they liked them just fine.
Here are some more recipes using produce that is in season in April:
Roasted Broccoli Stuffed Shells Recipe by Vintage Mixer
Tangy Quinoa Spring Salad Cups by Simple Bites
Curry Asparagus & Cauliflower Rice by Cookin’ Canuck
Strawberry Rhubarb Mousse with Meyer Lemon Whipped Cream by Climbing Grier Mountain
Healthy Key Lime Pie Smoothie by Bless This Mess
Roasted Asparagus with Caramelized Onions and Pine Nuts by Well Plated
Asparagus with Chive Vinaigrette by Project Domestication
Rhubarb Vanilla Bean Scones by Completely Delicious
Quinoa and Pea Shoot Salad with Cauliflower, Asparagus and Strawberries by Floating Kitchen
Garlic Mushroom Salad with Arugula and Wild Rice by Mountain Mama Cooks
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil, butter or rendered chicken fat
- 3 large leeks, washed well and sliced
- 1 large onion, diced
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 8 ounces cremini or white button mushrooms, cleaned well and sliced
- 2 bay leaves
- Pinch dried thyme
- Pinch dried rosemary
- 6 cups chicken broth, preferably homemade bone broth
- 2 cups chopped cooked chicken
- 1½ cups long grain rice or brown rice
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Fresh chopped parsley, for garnish
- Fresh lemon juice, optional
- Heat the olive oil in a 4-quart Dutch oven. Add the leeks and onion; season with a sprinkle of salt. Cook, stirring often, until they start to soften. Add the garlic and cook, stirring constantly, for 30-60 seconds, until fragrant. Next add the mushrooms. Season with a little more salt and pepper. The mushrooms will start to release a little liquid as they cook. If the pan cooks dry, add a little chicken broth to keep the vegetables from burning.
- Once the mushrooms have cooked down a bit, add the bay leaves, thyme, rosemary, chicken broth, chicken, and rice. If the broth is unsalted, add 1 teaspoon of salt.
- Bring pot to a low simmer, cover, and cook for 20-30 minutes, or until rice is cooked through. There should be enough liquid, but if not, add a little water or extra broth. The rice will soak up extra liquid as it sits. The
- To serve - spoon into bowls and top with fresh parsley, a sprinkle of black pepper, and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.
- Makes 6 servings
- Prep time: 20 minutes
- Cook time: 45 minutes