Filipino Chicken Tomato Stew
Afritada is a very simple-to-make Filipino stew that is perfect to have even in summer weather.
1 ½ lbs chicken drumsticks
1 ½ tbsp salt (for the chicken in the first step)
½ large onion
3 cloves garlic
3 small yellow potatoes (NOT the brown, russet potatoes)
1 cup baby carrots
1 bell pepper
2 tbsp oil
1 can tomato paste
1 whole bay leaf
1 tbsp sweetener (any kind is okay; agave syrup is used in the video)
1 can tomato sauce
1 cup chicken stock
2 tbsp fish sauce
Salt the chicken. Ideally, you should salt the meat at least an hour before cooking (however, even 20 minutes before cooking is just fine!).
Chop up the onion and set aside (This step doesn’t have to be perfect since we’re going to cook it down anyways). Next, chop up the garlic and set aside.
Chop the potatoes into halves (or, if you have medium/large potatoes, chop them into quarters, and vice versa). Chop the baby carrots into bite-size pieces, about half their size. Or, if you have a normal-size carrot, chop it into the equivalent sizes. Put the potatoes and carrots in the same container and set aside.
Take the bell pepper, discard all its seeds, and slice the bell pepper into chunks. Set aside!
Grab a pot that is large enough for all the afritada ingredients to fit into. Heat up the oil over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, fry up the chicken drumsticks to brown on all sides. Once they are fully browned, take them out and set aside. Add the potatoes and carrots and fry them up until they’re browned as well, sprinkling a little salt halfway through cooking. Set these aside.
Throw in the onions and sauté them until they’re translucent. Then, follow this up with the garlic, the tomato paste, and a bay leaf. Pour in your sweetener, and then smoosh all these together.
Dump the whole can of tomato sauce into the pot, and follow it up with the chicken stock. Mix these until they are well integrated, and then season with freshly ground pepper. Cover the pot with a lid, and simmer the sauce for a few minutes.
Then, throw in the chicken drumsticks and fully submerge them into the sauce. Add in the fish sauce, then cover the pot again, and let it simmer for 30 minutes. Make sure you mix every 10 minutes to ensure the bottom doesn’t burn.
After simmering, throw in the carrots, potatoes, and bell peppers. Mix these ingredients into the sauce and simmer for another 15 minutes.
Add a dash of salt again, and mix it up very well. Cover with a lid for the final simmer, for about 15 minutes. Towards the end of this simmering, poke both the potatoes and carrots with a fork to test their softness. Once they reach their optimal softness, turn off the heat, and search and remove the bay leaves from the pot before serving the afritada.
You’re done! For better flavor, let the stew sit for another day before serving. For any stew, I like to cook it a day ahead to give time for the flavor to seep into the chicken and vegetables. Enjoy! :)