This nourishing stew is a family recipe, and it's truly comfort food for me on a chilly day. I like the beautiful color palette it makes in the bowl, the creamy weight of the broth, the homey aroma -- everything. My copy of the recipe is a sight to see -- in my mother's handwriting, a spare and rushed list of just the ingredients, over which I scrawled in the details as she talked me through it. I can see it now, her darting around the kitchen methodically cleaning up the mess while telling me Exactly How The Stew Should Come To Be, and me sitting there simultaneously trying to make my spoon keep up with my mouth and my pen keep up with hers. Below a few splatters on the page she has jotted "Dig up ferns, get 3 books for Brother Douglas, close house vents and attic vent. Kit hot turn off." (I have no idea.) This tells me I got the recipe from her in 1997 in my Gigi Louise's old Tennessee farm kitchen, now gone; Mother was putting in a hard, sad, homesick year there clearing out and shutting down the beloved family homeplace, because my widowed grandmother could not do it and it had to be done.
Mother falls in the straightforward, pragmatic camp when it comes to cooking -- she's a salt-pepper-butter cook all the way. That random tablespoon of ketchup in this recipe tickles me; it's so like her. Fast, no fuss, no muss -- and yet it really does do the trick.
I suspect this stew has never been served without a pan of hot cornbread. Which is as it should be.
Sarah's Chicken Stew with Limas, Creamed Corn and Okra
1 large frying chicken
2 pkgs frozen lima beans
1 T salt
Stew chicken in 4 quarts of water with limas and salt until chicken is tender. Lift chicken out with a strainer, de-bone and shred, and return to pot.
Add to pot:
2 c potatoes, diced small
1 large can tomatoes or 2 cups fresh, chopped
1 onion, diced
1 T ketchup
1/2 cup okra (or more)
Cook till the potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes.
2 pkgs cream style corn (or 1 or 2 cans)
1 pat of butter
Cook on low burner for 20-30 minutes.