Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Chicken Dumpling Soup

Today I stayed home sick from work. I woke up with a swollen and sore throat. I probably could have made it in, but since it is slow this week between the holidays, I figured why push it? And, so I stayed home and cooked up a cure of chicken dumpling soup. I would have made chicken noodle, but I didn't have egg noodles on hand and dumlings came to mind since my brother mentioned while I was home for Christmas that he had eaten my mom's chicken dumpling soup recently.
Now you might not feel like cooking when you're sick, but making chicken soup is almost as good a cure as eating it. There's nothing that cleans out the sinuses like dicing an onion. Also, most of the time is spent simmering while I relax on the couch. I did have to walk down the street to get the chicken, but the fresh air energized me. I feel much better now after eating two bowls for dinner, so I think the effort was well worth it.

First make the broth:
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
3 pounds whole chicken legs (with thighs attached) each cut through the bone into 3 or 4 pieces
1 onion cut into chunks
1 stalk of celery with leaves, cut into 2 inch pieces
1 carrot cut into 1 inch pieces
2 quarts water
2 teaspoons salt
2 bay leaves

Heat the oil in a dutch oven over medium-high heat and brown the chicken pieces in two batches. Place the browned chicken in a bowl. Add the chopped onion, celery, and carrot to the pan and saute vegetables. Add chicken back into the pan, cover, and cook for 20 minutes or until chicken juices release. Add water, salt, and bay leaves and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook for 20 to 30 minutes until the broth is flavorful and the vegetables are mushy. Reserve the chicken. When cool enough to handle, remove the meat from the bones and reserve for the soup. Strain the broth and discard the vegetables. Allow the broth to cool and then remove the fat from the top by either spooning it off or using a fat separator. If you make this a day ahead, it is easier to wait and remove the fat after it is refrigerated.

For the Soup:

1 Tablespoon chicken fat (skimmed from top of broth)
1 onion, diced fine
1 carrot peeled and sliced
1 rib celery diced
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
Chicken Broth

Heat the chicken fat in the cleaned dutch oven over medium-high heat. Saute onion, carrot and celery until soft. Stir in the thyme, chicken, and the broth. Prepare the dumpling dough and wait for the soup to come to a simmer. Before adding dumplings, taste the broth for salt and pepper and add if necessary.

Dumpling Dough:

1 egg
2/3 cup milk
2 Tablespoons butter, melted
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
1/2 teaspoon herbs de provence

Mix the wet ingredients together, then add all dry ingredients at once and stir to combine. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto simmering soup. Cover the pot, turn heat to a low simmer and cook for 20 minutes. Sprinkle with freshly chopped parsley if you have it. Enjoy!

Friday, December 09, 2005

Spicy Mixed Potato Mash

I've been trying different variations of a spicy mashed potato for about a year and a half now after I tasted some Cajun potatoes at a friend's 30th birthday party. The caterer told me what he added to the potatoes, but I thought I might be able to improve upon his recipe. I started with cajun spices of white and black pepper, cayenne, and paprika, but thought the flavor needed a bit more depth. I therefore added Indian inspired spices of cumin, coriander and turmeric. Turmeric has little flavor, but it enriches the color and more importantly, has added health benefits. This anti oxidant and anti cancer root has been known for centuries to cleanse the body and is thought to be beneficial for persons with neurodegenerative disorders. Here's the final recipe, I don't think it'll get any better than this...

Spicy Mixed Potato Mash

4 Russet potatoes, peeled
4 Red skinned sweet potatoes (sometimes mistakenly called Yams) of similar size to the russets , peeled
1 Tablespoon kosher salt

about 2 teaspoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup skim milk
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon coriander
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon hot spanish paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
5 cranks of a peppermill Black Pepper
5 cranks White Pepper

2 Tablespoons butter, preferably unsalted

Slice the two types of peeled potatoes into 3/4 inch slices and cover with cold water in a 3 or 4 quart sauce pan. Add the salt, cover, and bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer and cook until fork tender.

While potatoes are cooking, heat olive oil in a small sauce pan and add minced garlic. Cook for about 30 seconds or until you can smell the garlic. Do not brown the garlic. (Have the milk ready to add to stop the garlic from browning.) Add the milk and all the spices and warm the mixture over low heat.

When the potatoes are fork tender, drain them immediately and place the uncovered pot back on a low burner. This will help aid in evaporating extra moisture. Mash the butter into the potatoes with a potato masher. Then add the milk mixture and mash until smooth. You can use a mixer or food processor, but I highly recommend a potato masher to keep them from getting pasty.

These are quite spicy, so I think it's a great side dish for Jerk Chicken or grilled meats. This would stand up nicely to blackened fish as well.