Whole Chicken and Lentil Stew

I have a heavy squat session tomorrow so I wanted to load up on some carbs and protein tonight. There has been a little bit of a chill in the air this weekend, so I was feeling a thick hearty stew for dinner. This recipe is not strict paleo, as it includes lentils and chickpeas, but it does play nicely as a part of the Whole Life Challenge and is honestly, extremely healthful regardless of what labels it fits into. I’ve personally never really had any problem with lentils or chickpeas in the past, so I was more than happy to enjoy a couple bowls of this tonight 🙂 Lots of fresh flavorful veggies, hearty fibrous carbs, and protein packed chicken!

Additionally, this recipe uses the chicken’s bone marrow for flavor instead of relying on processed chicken stocks or artificial flavors. Home made stocks are shown to help boost the immune system and to be very high in minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus. Yes, making a stew from scratch does take more time, but the results are amazing. SO MUCH FLAVOR!

I made this stew while my husband and I hung out on the couch watching football — Let me tell you, there is NOTHING that will make you realize it’s almost fall quite like the sound of football on TV, a cool breeze pouring through the windows, and the smell of chicken stew filling the air. Sensory overload of pure fall awesomeness!

Anyway…. I’m officially feeling ready to lift some heavy weights tomorrow! Hope you all enjoy the recipe 🙂

Ingredients: 

Ingredients to add in the beginning:

  • 1 whole chicken — I used an organic, free range chicken. They tend to be smaller (mine was about 3 pounds) and they usually have less fatty skin. If you don’t use an organic chicken, consider skinning the chicken before beginning the recipe to avoid over saturating your broth with fat.
  • 3/4 cup dried lentils
  • 1/2 of a can of chick peas
  • 1 large red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 large vidalia onion, chopped
  • 1, 4oz can diced green chili peppers (I used mild, but you can go hotter if you want)
  • 1 tbsp parsley
  • 1 tbsp oregano
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp fresh ground pepper
  • Water – enough to cover the above ingredients (probably around 8 cups)

Ingredients to add after shredding the chicken:

  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 1 parsnip, chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley

Method: 

Pre-heat the oven to 275 degrees. Add all the beginning ingredients to a large oven-safe-pot/dutch-oven – the whole chicken, the herbs and spices, the veggies, lentils, chickpeas, and enough water to cover it all. Put the lid on it and throw it in the oven.

Raw chicken in the pot with herbs & spices

Go watch some football and forget about it for a while… check on it every 45 minutes to stir the lentils and to make sure you don’t need to add more water (you shouldn’t if the lid is on tight)

After 2-3 hours (this is a rough number and will depend on the size of your bird. The chicken should be cooked through, and somewhat loose on the bones (but not yet falling apart…) ) remove the pot from the oven and remove the chicken from the pot. Put it on a large plate and let it cool enough so that you can handle it. Once it’s cooled, you will need to shred the chicken meat.

To do this, you will simply pull all the skin off (if you didn’t do this in the beginning) and start picking! Cut the large chunks of meat off the bird, then shred it up with a couple forks or your fingers. You can also dice the meat if you are too lazy to shred (or if you like diced meat better). Work your way around the chicken, tossing scraps and bones aside (perhaps save the bones for another batch of nutritious stock) and the meat back into pot for the stew.

Once you’re finished adding all the chicken meat back to the pot, add the chopped carrots, parsnips and 3/4 of the cilantro. Put the pot on the stove top of simmer on low until the carrots have softened (probably another 45 minutes). Stir regularly as needed so that the lentils don’t burn to the bottom of the pot.

Serve hot & enjoy topped with fresh cilantro and a smack of hot sauce.

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