The Energy Chef: Comforting Chicken Fricassee

Brrr! As we drift towards winter, cooler weather makes me crave homey comfort food. For me, what comes to mind is dish my mother made every winter: chicken fricassee. I love this meal because it's an all-in-one dish that warms you up from the inside out.

My mom used to serve it with white rice, but I cut it out (along with most of the fat in the original recipe) so I can enjoy more of this hearty stew. Now Mom makes this dish Energy Chef-style, too -- she's learning, like we all can. Love you, Mom!

Herb's Chicken Fricassee
Serves 8

3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1 1/2 pounds), cut into pieces

1 (16-ounce) can tomato sauce
1 medium onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 bunch cilantro, chopped (stems and leaves)
4 medium red potatoes, diced
2 bay leaves
1 1/2 cup chicken stock (or low sodium chicken broth)
1/4 cup bitter orange juice* (Available at Latin markets)
Salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add chicken pieces and brown chicken on both sides, 2  to 3 minutes per side. Remove chicken set aside. Lower heat to medium-low and saute onions, peppers and cilantro for 3 to 4 minutes. Add potatoes, chicken, bitter orange juice and chicken stock. Bring to boil and reduce heat, then let simmer 20 minutes or until the potatoes are cooked through.

*If you can't find bitter orange juice, add 1 tablespoon of lemon or lime juice to the soup along with the orange juice and stock.

Nutrition Information Per Serving:
Calories: 250
Total Fat: 5 grams
Saturated Fat: 1 grams
Total Carbohydrate:  27 grams
Protein: 24 grams
Sodium: 410 milligrams
Cholesterol: 50 milligrams
Fiber: 4 grams

Next Food Network Star season 6 finalist Herb Mesa is a restaurant-trained chef, a self-taught healthy cuisine chef and a certified personal trainer. Herb teaches "balance through food and fitness," and works as a personal chef and trainer in Atlanta.

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