Friday, July 5, 2013

Doesn't Matter What Language You Speak, it's Still Stew.

Every now and then I pull out "Best of Slavic Cooking" and "Croatian Cookbook", both by Alojzije and Ruzica Kapetanovic, to learn more about the cuisine of my heritage. Unfortunately my maternal grandmother took ill when I was very young, so I did not have many years afforded to me to learn from her. On this adventure, I looked up chicken recipes and found three, "Chicken Perket", "Croatian Chicken Stew" and "Chicken in White Wine Sauce" that looked simple to make. No, I didn't make all three fore as I read along I noticed that they were very, very similar in nature; perhaps one or two ingredients differed, but that was about it. I did the next best thing, I combined them all together and came up with my own version; but the next question was, "What do I name it?" I looked up the meaning of "Perket" first off and found out it can be spelt and pronounced differently in many languages, "perkelt", "porkolt", "palca, "paprikas", but it all meant the same thing, "STEW"!!!

So there you have the origin of my "Chicken Perket" also known as "Croatian Chicken Stew"; the American version; and here comes the final recipe.  Instead of simmering away in a skillet though, I prepared it in my slow cooker using the high setting; only took four hours.  Initially I used too much liquid and the sauce ended up being a bit on the thin side; but it was still good on pasta.  I also pureed too many of the vegetables, so very little was left to bite into.  I've made the changes to my own recipe to take these facts into account.  By the way, I asked a friend to sample it and she enjoyed it so much, she left none for her husband to try.  Now that's a taste tester I can appreciate!

Now I have to worry over just one more item; that my relations in Croatia read the recipe, try it out, and give their approval.  Fingers crossed!

Chicken Perket

(Croatian Chicken Stew)


12 large plum tomatoes, chopped
1 large red onion, chopped
1 large green bell pepper, seeded and julienned
½ cup flour, divided in half
2 Tbsp minced garlic, divided in half
4 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts, sliced in half lengthwise
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 Tbsp paprika
½ cup chicken stock
½ cup white wine
1 and ½ lbs angel hair pasta


Set a 6 quart crock pot on high; spray inside with nonstick cooking spray.

Begin layering ingredients inside – tomatoes, onion, bell pepper, ¼ cup flour sprinkled evenly over all, 1 tablespoon garlic.  Place in the chicken breast pieces and spread the remaining ¼ cup of flour over them.  Add the mushrooms, remaining garlic; then evenly sprinkle over the black pepper and paprika.  Pour the stock and white wine over the top.

Cover and cook for 3 and ½ hours; remove chicken and 1/4 of the vegetables.  Use a stand or immersion blender to puree the remaining vegetables, and thicken the liquid.  Return the chicken and reserved vegetables to the pot; cover and cook for another half hour before serving.   Also during that last half hour, prepare the pasta to desired tenderness; place a serving into bowl and top with sauce, chicken and some vegetables.

Makes 8 servings.

Mary Cokenour

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