Riopelle Stew

jerry-and-naomi-riopelleFall might have been in the air last week, but the air is now full of winter. A light dusting of snow fell Saturday evening in the Village and you can bet everyone is dreaming about warmer meals.

I like to warm up with a nice beef stew but some of my friends steer clear of meat these days. Jerry Riopelle and his wife, Naomi, gave up eating red meat a few years ago. Naomi tells me it was for environmental reasons more than anything. They still like it, they just don’t eat it. When the Riopelle’s come for dinner, I cook chicken or fish. Last winter I created a chicken stew and named it after them. I want to share the recipe with Village residents and tell you about one of the ingredients.

Amy Valdés Schwemm is the owner of a company called Mano y Matate. I met her when I took her class on Mexican mole sauces at Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix a few years ago. Making mole is an all-day process, two if you count gathering all the ingredients before you start. I learned that day in class that I could buy mole powder made by Amy and enjoy the delicious flavors anytime with no effort on my part. The problem for me is that Mano y Matate is in Tucson and the only way I can get it is to order it online. However, once a year Amy comes to the Chiles & Chocolate Festival at Desert Botanical Garden. This year the festival is November 11 -13. I plan to attend and stock up on Amy’s mole powder.

Riopelle Stew

Serves 6

1 pound onions, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced

1 pound assorted wild mushrooms, thinly sliced

2 pounds whole boneless chicken breasts cut into bit sized pieces

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided

8 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1 tin Mole Dulce (from Mano y Matate)

8 cups chicken broth

4 plum tomatoes, chopped

2 cups fresh corn kernels including the pulp scraped from the cobs of about 3 ears of corn

2 tablespoons Vermouth

½ cup half and half

¾ cup thinly sliced scallions

In large skillet, melt 2 tablespoons butter with 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Add onions with salt and pepper and cook until soft and caramelized. Remove to bowl and melt remaining butter with 2 tablespoons olive oil in same pan. Add mushrooms with salt and pepper and cook until soft and brown. Remove to bowl with onions and heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in same pan. Add chicken pieces seasoned with salt and pepper and brown. This can be made one day ahead to this point. Everything can be refrigerated together in a covered container.

In large Dutch oven, heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil over medium heat. Add Mole Dulce and sauté for 2 minutes. Add plum tomatoes, chicken broth, chicken, vegetables and corn. Simmer gently for 45 minutes. Add Vermouth, half and half and green onions and heat through. Serve in large bowls with rosemary focaccia.

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