My leg muscles still ache as I type. I don’t think I’ve been this sore for quite some time but it was all for a good reason. I’ve just returned from a ski break in Sun Valley, happy to take advantage of the hospitality of our good friends who shared their home with us for a few days. Having mainly skied in Colorado and Utah previously, Idaho was a first for me and my husband and we were blessed with perfect ski conditions the entire week.
It snowed before our arrival and throughout our first ski day last Thursday. Fresh powder? Check. No crowds? Check. Great company? Check, check, check! The only drawback from this mini vacation was returning a bit more tired than before I left for it but it’s par for the course when your husband and friends happen to be excellent skiers and you spend the whole time trying to keep up with them.
I took a blog break and left my heavy camera behind but I snapped shots of the scenery with my iphone so I can share them with you here. And though I skipped taking pictures of our food on this trip, I will say that there’s no shortage of good dining options in Sun Valley. From Ciro to Sego then to Globus and the countless lively bars around the town of Ketchum, my friends and I ate well.
But by the time we arrived home last night, my thoughts still lingering on the cold, snowy last few days, I had only one thing on my mind: Comfort food.
(This first image is how a classic afritada looks, with bell pepper and potatoes. Added 11/1/2013. The other, older images show broccoli which I add sometimes for my husband. Scroll down for printable recipe.)
For me, chicken stew was the only thing that would satisfy the comfort food craving. I’ve shared with you my favorite chicken stew here. Incidentally, my mother’s chicken asado is the #2 most popular dish on this blog. I’ve received numerous email messages saying that you’ve tried this stew and have enjoyed it. Thanks so much for this. It makes me happy that you also like one of my all-time favorite dishes.
If you like my mom’s chicken asado, you might also like chicken afritada, another popular Filipino stew. Both dishes trace their roots back to Spanish origins but over time (say 300 years) each has evolved with its own Asian twist. Asado uses soy sauce to give it flavor while afritada uses fish sauce. Besides this, they look almost exactly alike and both are often “extended” to feed more people with the addition of potatoes (though both are almost always eaten with rice). However, just changing one ingredient is enough to give these two dishes their own personality.
I’ve taken to adding cilantro to my afritada (I learned this from my sister) for a burst of color and freshness. I’ve also upped the the nutrition factor by adding carrots and broccoli to it but the essence of the dish remains unchanged. The rich tomato base is made just a tad sweeter by the vegetables and the fish sauce (remember it doesn’t taste fishy) enhances the long-simmered, deep flavor we all expect from a good stew. When I prepare afritada for friends, it doesn’t last very long. So if you like my asado, you might like this, too.
- 1 whole chicken, cut up
- 1 14-oz can tomato sauce
- 1 14-0z can diced tomatoes
- 1 onion, cut in large pieces
- olive oil, for sautéing
- 2-3 carrots, peeled and cut in 1 inch pieces
- 1-2 bell peppers cut in 1-inch pieces
- 2 potatoes cut in quarters (peeled or not) or 6 - 8 baby potatoes cut in half
- 2 - 3 tablespoons chopped cilantro (optional)
- 1 dried bay leaf
- 1-2 tablespoons fish sauce (start with 1 tablespoon and add more later, to taste) (You can use soy sauce instead; it will taste very similar but Filipinos call it asado when soy sauce is used)
- kosher, salt to taste
- Optional: I add broccoli for my husband but it's not normally included in traditional afritada
- Start by heating a few tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the rinsed chicken pieces to the pot and very lightly brown the sides over medium to medium-high heat (just 2-3 minutes per side). This lends additional flavor and keeps the chicken from falling apart while they cook.
- Sprinkle a little kosher salt on the chicken pieces as they brown. Add the chopped onion and cook for another 2-3 minutes. If you want the onions to brown a little for more flavor, remove the chicken pieces after browning them and add them back once you have a little caramelization on the onions, about 3-4 minutes.
- Add the fish sauce then the bay leaf, diced tomatoes and tomato sauce. Stir all together then cover the pot and simmer for 15-20 minutes.
- Add the potatoes and carrots (and broccoli if using) and stir them into the stew to allow the liquid to soften them. Taste the sauce and add a bit more salt or fish sauce if you feel it needs it. The sauce will look watered down but this is okay. The remaining cooking time and the veggies will build more flavor. Cook for another 20 minutes, stirring in the cilantro and bell peppers about 10 minutes before you turn off the heat. Serve warm with rice, bread or pasta.