Chicken and Eggplant Oven Stew

I hadn't been feeling well, having just recovered from a kidney infection and then launching into yet another infection. For some reason, this semester has been awful for me in terms of illness. After several weeks of blood tests, medications, CT scans, IVs, etc., most of the foods I've wanted to eat (when I've been able to eat more than a few bites a day) have been related to stews and other comfort foods. I'm just happy that through all this, I've still been able to make food. I don't know that I'd have been able to do so had I not had an amazing sous in the house, R, who has been tremendously helpful and supportive while I get back to being a healthy person.

This stew was the perfect sort of comfort meal. It's healthful and delicious, tasting fresh and wonderful. It's got substance, but isn't heavy, and is one of those stews where there aren't a lot of spices going on so that each ingredient can truly speak for itself instead of hiding behind the homogeny one often sees in stew flavours. And because it's in the oven, it just goes in and you can basically forget about it instead of having to worry about getting off the couch to stir. Hope you enjoy!

8 chicken tenders, cut into 1-2" pieces
3 stalks celery, roughly chopped
bulb garlic
3 carrots, roughly chopped
1 leek, sliced
12 baby eggplants or one large eggplant (if you're using the baby ones, quarter them lengthwise; if you're using a large eggplant, cut them into 1-2" long chunks)
1 can stewed tomatoes
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly grated inger
1/2 teaspoon each: sumac, aleppo pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil

Combine all the ingredients into a large earthenware crock (or other sort of casserole dish). Put in oven, and turn oven to 350F. Let cook one and a half hours. Serves 4-6.


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