Puebla Chicken and Potato Stew

In the grand scheme of things, nothing is important. I mean, sad stuff happens and good stuff happens and you take a lot of baths and eat a lot of stews and go to some weddings and drink a lot of coffee and have a lot of realized dreams and maybe some crushed dreams, and then you lose your socks and smoke a cigar and you pay massive library fines and you wash your face, and you vacuum your carpet and eat an apple with cheddar cheese.

And maybe you have an adventure and write down inspirational quotes in your inspirational quote book. And maybe you take some pictures of the people you love, or a tree that is beautiful. Or a cool pot hole cover that says:

And maybe you make a fool of yourself, as you are apt to do when you are 18 years old (almost 19) and a little too excited about most things in general. And maybe you make something good or maybe you make something bad, but at least you made something. And maybe you wear your favorite sweater and maybe you cry every now and then or maybe you don't and maybe you watch a good movie. And maybe you make a new friend completely unexpectedly or maybe you write a song or maybe you don't do any of that, you just do a lot of navel gazing. Or maybe you have conversations about things you don't really understand yet, but know you will someday, and that is weird and beautiful. 

Anyways, the point of all this is to say, despite all the strangeness and lunches and bananas and dirty laundry and phone calls and little tragedies and victories, stew will get you through all of it. 
That's what stew was meant to do. 

Puebla Chicken and Potato Stew
from Gourmet Today by Ruth Riechl

P.S. This is really lovely. 
P.P.S. Stew is really unphotogenic. Sorry. 


2 pounds chicken thighs, rinsed and patted dry
1 large white onion, quartered
6 cups water
2 garlic cloves, left unpeeled
1 (14-15 ounce) can whole tomatoes in juice
4 teaspoons chopped canned chipotle chiles in adobo
1 teaspoon dried oregano, preferably Mexican
1 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 link (1 1/2 ounces) mild Spanish chorizo (cured spicy pork sausages) finely chopped
1 pound boiling potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4 inch pieces
2 ounces queso fresco, or whatever cheese your heart desires

Combine chicken, 2 onion quarters, water and 1 teaspoon salt in a 4 to 5 quart pot and bring to a boil, covered, over moderately high heat. Boil for 10 minutes, then remove from heat and let stand, covered, until chicken is just cooked through, about 10 minutes. Transfer chicken to a plate; reserve broth with onion. 
Meanwhile, heat a dry small cast-iron skillet over moderate heat until hot. Add garlic and remaining 2 onion quarters and brown on all sides, turning occasionally with tongs, about 5 minutes. Peel garlic and transfer to a blender. Add browned onion quarters, tomatoes with juice, chiles and oregano and puree until smooth. 
When chicken is cool enough to handle, coarsely shred, discarding skin and bones. 
Heat oil in a deep 12-inch skillet over moderately high heat unitl hot but not smoking. Add chorizo and cook, stirring, until fat is rendered, about 2 minutes. Carefully add puree (it will spatter and steam) and cook, stirring frequently, until thick, about 10 minutes. 
Add potatoes and 1 teaspoon salt to reserved broth in pot, bring to a simmer, and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are almost tender, about 10 minutes. 
Add potatoes and onion to chorizo mixture, along with 2 cups broth (reserve remainder for another use, if desired). Stir in chicken and simmer for 10 minutes. 
Sprinkle stew with cheese and serve with avocado slice and corn tortillas, if you so desire.