Even though spring isn’t officially here for another three solid weeks, the daffodils and crocuses are already making their appearance. And as I’m en route to Panama City, FL today, the flight attendant has just announced it’s 78 degrees in the northern part of the Sunshine State.

So now’s as good a time as any to debut Shove-it-in-the-Oven Chicken Stew. The weather’s right and the vegetables are certainly available. You may recall I ran a variation of this recipe a couple of months ago, but the technique is so easy and the stew so very good, that I promised more shove-it style stews. This one’s my favorite.

Just look at the vibrant spring colors–orange carrots, pale green leeks, along with purple, red, and yellow multicolored new potatoes–and the oven roasting doesn’t diminish their beauty. The finished dish is equally stunning.

Besides the freak snow storm on October 29th and a wimpy little dusting a few weeks ago, we have yet to see a decent snow this season. I keep thinking it’s coming but maybe not. Either way, now’s a good time to start welcoming spring. This stew is perfect for this in-between period, offering all the comfort of of winter and all the fresh beauty of spring.

Shove-It in the Oven Creamy Spring Chicken Stew

Serves 6 to 8

2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into large pieces
1 bunch leeks (about 4 medium), trimmed of dark green parts and root, light green and white part quartered lengthwise, cut into 1-inch lengths and washed thoroughly
1 1/2 pound new potatoes, your choice (red, yellow, purple, or a mix of all 3), halved
1/2 pound carrots peeled and cut into medium chunks
1/2 pound mushrooms, quartered if large, halved if small
4 large cloves garlic, sliced
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons dried tarragon
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup cream heavy cream

Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 425 degrees.

Mix chicken, leeks, potatoes, carrots, mushrooms, garlic, olive oil, tarragon, and a generous sprinkling of salt and pepper in a large heavy-duty roasting pan.  Set pan in oven and roast until cooked through and juices have released, about 45 minutes.  Remove from oven and set pan over two burners at medium-low heat. Stir in enough chicken broth to moisten; simmer to blend flavors and thicken slightly, a couple of minutes. Stir in cream; continue to simmer to heat through. Serve!