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Fowl Ball – The History of Chicken Stew

Chicken stew is a delicious, warming meal. It is simple to make and you can make a lot of different variations of this tasty dish. Chicken stew actually has a fascinating history and this dish has been enjoyed for many centuries.

A stew is a combination of two or more foods simmered in a liquid. Coq au vin, Hungarian goulash, beef bourguignon, and beef stroganoff are all examples of stews.

The “Apicius de re Coquinaria” is the oldest cookbook ever discovered. It contains fish and lamb stew recipes, although chicken had been domesticated by then too. There were three Romans with that name living between 1 BC and 2 AD and the book is believed to have been compiled by one of them.

You can actually go back even further because primitive tribes used to boil foods together, which is what a stew essentially is. Amazonian tribes uses turtle shells as pans and would boil the turtle entrails with some other ingredients. Other cultures used large shells, such as clamshells, instead of pans. Archeological evidence points to this type of cookery going back seven or eight thousand years. The invention of pottery, about ten thousand years ago, made cooking stews easier.

Fowl such as chicken has been domesticated for thousands of years and chicken stew has been a longstanding popular dish. Different cultures have different chicken stews, such as the peanut butter chicken stew preferred in parts of Africa and the spicy chicken stew made in Morocco.

Chicken Stew Varieties

One type of chicken stew, which is a couple of hundred years old, is chicken booyah. This is like a thick soup or a thin stew and is eaten in northeast Wisconsin. The first Belgian immigrants came to Wisconsin in 1853 and they spoke a language called Walloon, which is nothing like English or French. It is thought that the Belgian wrote down booyah because he did not know how to spell bouillon and the name stuck.

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Delicious Southern Chicken Stew

You might have heard of southern chicken stew too and it is still a very popular dish in some states, especially North Carolina. To make this dish, a whole chicken is parboiled in a milk or cream based broth and butter, salt, and pepper are added as well as other ingredients. This stew varies from thin to thick in consistency and from white to yellow in color, depending on the amount of butter or margarine used. Saltine crackers are often served with this dish.

Southern chicken stew is often served in the coolest months of the year and the phrase “chicken stew” can refer to the gathering itself rather than the food. A chicken stew recipe is usually thought of as a comfort food because these recipes are cheap to make, enjoyed by nearly everybody and they are warming and flavorful. This is a common dish served at social gatherings such as church fellowships, family reunions, and community fundraisers.

The chicken stew at these events will often be made in a big cast iron or stainless steel cooking pot, maybe outdoors over an open fire. You might get coleslaw, a grilled cheese sandwich or rice served with the chicken stew.

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