Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Chicken Part Deux: The Stock and The Soup

As mentioned I really only started roasting chickens (old hat that I am on chicken number two) because I thought that making chicken stock would be fun and very Little House on the Prairie-like. It turns out that it is less fun, then a really long process that, while not particularly involved, will make your home smell like a Campbell soup commercial for two days (which by the way, I am cool with it.)

To start, roast a chicken. You'll want to pick the chicken clean and put all of the bones and odds and ends in a large pot. Many of the recipes I saw recommended that you also dump in the gizzard, but I personally threw that away and wasn't super interested in investigating further as to what the scene was. I do, however, keep the stuff that I filled the chicken with to add to the pot.

You'll want to fill the pot with cold water so that it covers the chicken...I'm trying not to use the word carcass but it appears unavoidable...carcass with another two finger widths on top of that. In terms of veggies to add it appears from everything I've read to be a preference thing, but the standard is a couple of carrots, a couple of stalks of celery, and an onion. I didn't have any celery so that was nixed in mine and I also stuck a couple of cloves of garlic in for good measure. It is also variously recommended to add some acid. My sister-in-law specifically said apple cider vinegar (2 tps) so I went and bought a bottle of that which I now have to find recipes for, but I've read that lemon juice will work too.

Bring the pot to a simmer and let it simmer for at least three hours. You don't want it to be boiling so keep it super low; I actually only keep it half on the burner. There is also a fairly hot internet debate about whether you need to skim the froth that begins to form at the top. I have heard variously that the froth consists of toxins and that removing it will help to "clarify" the broth, but I wouldn't get crazytown about it.

The broth should simmer anywhere between three and twenty-four hours. I know what you're thinking: "Seriously? That is such a big range why even bother giving one?" Well I don't know. The first time I did it I simmered it for eighteen hours and the second time for five. The only appreciable difference is color, but I'm told that the longer you let it go the better it is for you.

Anyway, whenever you're done, remove the larger bones and veg and strain the rest into a bowl. Rinse the pot and pour the stock back in, cover with the lid and put in the fridge. Once it cools (I left mine overnight), remove the layer of fat on top and store in containers. If you want to store it over a longer period it freezes well, just make sure to leave room in the container for it to expand when it freezes.

I decided to make some soup for dinner with what I had in the fridge and it was bananas good:
3 carrots
4 oz (half a package) mushrooms
1/2 onion
1 cup of cooked chopped chicken
1 cup pasta
approx 4 cups of stock
cayenne pepper (gasp! that's right Ailish Brady not only owns cayenne, she uses it at will)
oil of your choice or butter

Chop the carrots, mushrooms and onion and add to a largish pot with your choice of oil. Cook until the mushrooms start to release their water. Add stock and bring to a simmer. Add chicken and simmer soup until carrots are nearly cooked. Bring soup to a boil and add pasta, cook until pasta is tender. Season the soup as you go; as the broth reduces it will get more flavorful so be careful not to over salt.

That is all I got, chicken stock and delicious soup. USA! USA! USA!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Russian Potato Croquettes...or whatever

Welcome to my blog. Let me start by saying that I am feeling queasy writing those words (though not because of the Russian croquette's*, 'cause those were delicious.) My roommate suggested I start a blog, and then there was badgering, and then she followed me around the kitchen taking pictures of me and I feared she would ghost write a blog in my name attributing boxed mashed potatoes to my culinary credit and I couldn't let that stand.

Anyway, tonight I decided on roast chicken and Russian potato croquettes. This is my second roast chicken, which was a big step for me as roasting something as big as a chicken felt really Martha Stewarty. With help from my mom and my sister-in-law the way I settled on to roast a chicken is as follows: take out giblets (ew), rinse chicken, pat dry inside and out and salt and pepper inside and out. After that it is pretty much a preference situation. I take a few tablespoons of butter and mash it up with herbs (whatever you have handy, dried or fresh) and spread over and under the skin (again, ew.) I also chop an onion into quarters and crack some garlic and fill the cavity (OK, my last ew.)

Stick in the oven at 350 until the thing pops up...yeah, I go by the thing.

As for the Russian croquette's, it is from a recipe I found on salon.com: http://tiny.cc/y1m3C

I'm not going to go through the whole thing because, well, its on the link and there is even an instructional video, but there are a couple of notes I would like to make:

1. My lord that is a lot of oil. As I sit here typing this I find it coming out of my pores. I feel like i'm one step closer to understanding the fall of the USSR - I mean how can you function with that much oil in your system.

2. I don't think I've ever "sweat" an onion before, but be advised that this whole thing takes awhile, like a long while.

3. You may note from the pictures that I added cheese. I like cheese, and it turns out I do not regret the decision. If anything I regret not adding more cheese to this already artery clogging meal. I shredded cheddar on the filling mixture, but any hard cheese would probably be great.

4. While the instructional video is really very lovely, the potato is harder to handle then it looks; especially when you realize that the chicken is done and you want to get a move on, so needless to say my croquette's were comically larger than pictured on Salon. Note: this did not effect the deliciousness.

5. I didn't feel the need to cook this in the oven. It was hot all the way through after the deep frying bit.

*Just as a totally ridiculous side note, you may notice that Salon calls them cutlets. That makes me mildly uncomfortable for no reason, so I have changed the name.

Anyway those are my notes for your consideration. As Bridgett joked tonight I really only make roast chicken to make chicken stock, which will be my next post if you are still interested in my New Year's resolution gone blog.