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Bean & Lamb Stew (Fasoulia فاصوليا) 2

Posted on December 13, 2013 by Sahar

As comfort foods go, Fasoulia was another one my sisters & I were rewarded with as we grew up.  It is a delightful stew consisting of (at least in the Palestinian tradition) of lamb, tomatoes, and green beans.

In fact, the word “fasoulia” in Arabic literally means “bean”.

Fasoulia is a dish that is found in several versions throughout the Middle East, Turkey, North & Sub-Saharan Africa, and southern Europe. There are versions that use white beans (Syria & Lebanon), red beans (Lebanon), with carrots (Ethiopia), and with olives and greens  (Greece).

The version I’m making is the one we grew up with (and the one I learned from my mom – who makes the best Fasoulia I’ve ever had, by the way).  It’s in the Palestinian style, with lots of tomatoes.

 

A few notes:

1.  You can make this dish vegetarian/vegan by simply omitting the meat and using vegetable broth.

2.  This dish is always served over rice.  I like to serve over saffron rice (because that was the way my sisters & I grew up eating it).  However, if you want to use plain white rice, or even brown rice (especially if you’re making the vegetarian version), go for it.

3.  If you don’t like or can’t find lamb, you can use beef.  Use chuck.  It’s meant for stewing and braising.

4.  Use regular, fresh green beans for this dish.  Don’t use frozen or haricot vert (French green beans).  They won’t hold up to the cooking time.

5.  This is generally served with browned pine nuts sprinkled over the top as garnish.  However, if you don’t want to go to the expense of or can’t find pine nuts, browned slivered almonds are an excellent substitute.

 

The Ingredients

The Ingredients

The lamb. Be sure to trim it of most of the fat.  Keep some, but get rid of any really large pieces.

The lamb. Be sure to trim it of most of the fat. Keep some, but get rid of any really large pieces.

The beans. Use regular green bean; not haricot vert or frozen. They won't stand up to the cooking.

The beans. Use regular green beans; not haricot vert or frozen. They won’t stand up to the cooking.

Clockwise from top: salt; black pepper; allspice

Clockwise from top: salt; black pepper; allspice

 

1 med. onion, finely chopped

2 lbs. lamb, trimmed and cut into 1″ cubes

2 lbs. green beans, trimmed and cut into 1″ to 1 1/2″ pieces

3 tbsp. olive oil or clarified butter

1 28-oz can whole tomatoes (try to buy without basil; if you do get basil, pick out the leaves)

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. ground black pepper

1/2 tsp. allspice

2 c. beef or chicken broth

 

1.  In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil or butter over medium-high heat.  Add the meat and cook, in batches if needed,  until it is browned.

Browning the meat. If you get the bone, use it. It adds a lot of flavor.

Browning the meat. If you get the bone, use it. It adds a lot of flavor.

2.  Add the onions to the saucepan and cook until they are softened, about 5 – 7 minutes.

Adding the onions.

Adding the onions.

3.  Add the beans and cook another 3 – 5 minutes.  Stir frequently.

And now for the beans.

And now for the beans.

4.  Add the tomatoes, spices, and broth.  Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat to medium-low.  Cook until the meat is tender, about 1 hour.  Taste for seasoning.

With the tomaotes, spices, and broth. And away we go.

With the tomatoes, spices, and broth. And away we go.

5.  Serve with rice with a few browned pine nuts or slivered almonds on top.

Perfect meal for a cold night.

Perfect meal for a cold night.

 

Sahtein!

French Onion Soup 0

Posted on December 09, 2013 by Sahar

Soup has been around probably as long as people have been eating.  It’s cheap, filling, restorative, and democratic.

Onion soups have been popular at least as far back as Roman times. They were, throughout history, seen as food for poor people, since onions were plentiful, easy to grow, and considered a restorative food.

The modern version of Onion Soup originates in France in the 18th C., made from softened onions and, traditionally, beef broth. Onion soups are likewise found  in early English cookbooks and American cookbooks from colonial days to present.It is often finished by being placed under a grill in a ramekin with croutons and Gruyère melted on top. The crouton on top is reminiscent of using bread as “sops”.

Here are a couple of examples of early written Onion Soup recipes:

[1651: France]
“Potage of onion.
Cut your onions into very thin slices, fry them with butter, and after they are fried put them into a pot with water or with pease broth. After they are well sod, put in it a crust of bread and let it boile a very little; you may put some capers in it. Dry your bread then stove it; take up, and serve with one drop of vinegar.”
The French Cook, Francois Pierre La Varenne, [1651] Englished by I.D.G. 1653, Introduced by Philip and Mary Hyman [Southover Press:East Sussex] 2001 (p. 130)

[1869: France]
“Onion Soup.
Peel 2 good-sized onions (say 7 oz.), cut them, in halves and then crosswise, in thin shreds:
Blanch, in boiling water, for five minutes, to remove their acrid flavour;
Put in a 6-inch stewpan, with 1 1/2 oz. of butter;
Stir over a brisk fire, and, when the onion becomes of a light brown colour, add a tablespoonful of flour, say 1 oz.;
Keep on the fire for two minutes longer;
Add: 1 quart of water; 2 pinches of salt; and 2 small ones of pepper;
Stir till boiling;
Simmer, for five minutes, on the stove corner; taste the seasoning;
Put in the soup-tureen 2 ox. of sliced dried roll, and 1 oz. of butter; our in the soup, stirring gently with a spoon to dissolve.
Serve.”
The Royal Cookery Book (Le Livre de Cuisine) , Jules Gouffe, translated from the French and adapted for English Use by Alphonse Gouffe [Sampson Low, Son, and Marston:London] 1869 (p. 38-9)

(sources: www.wikipedia.org, www.foodtimeline.org)

 

************************************************************************************************************************* A few notes:

For myself, I like a lot of onions in my soup; almost stew-like.  If you prefer a brothier soup, either reduce the amount of onions or increase the broth.

Because onions do sweeten as they cook down, I don’t recommend using sweet onions like 1015’s, Vidalias, or Mauis.  They will make the soup too sweet.  Regular yellow onions are just fine. Plus, they’re cheaper.

This soup is traditionally made with beef broth.  However, you can use chicken or turkey broth if you want a lighter soup.  Or, use vegetable broth to make this vegetarian (or vegan if you omit the Gruyère or use soy cheese).

The best bread to use with this soup is a good crusty European-style bread like a baguette, ciabatta, pain au levain, etc.  These will hold up quite well if you decide to make the soup a gratin.

 

The Ingredients

The Ingredients

2 tbsp. Olive Oil

5 lbs. onions, sliced about 1/4″ thick

4 cl. garlic, minced

1 tsp. sugar

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. dried thyme

1/2 c. dry white wine or unsweetened apple cider (optional)

4 c. beef broth or vegetable broth

Salt & Pepper to taste

Toasted bread or your favorite crackers

Shredded Gruyère, Emmenthal, or Swiss cheese

 

1.  Heat the olive oil in a stockpot or large saucepan over medium-high heat.  Add the onions, garlic, and the 1 teaspoon sugar and 1 teaspoon salt (these will help release the water from the onions and make them wilt more quickly).

The onions. I was quite weepy when I finished slicing.

The onions. I was quite weepy when I finished slicing.

Stir until the onions begin to heat through, turn the heat down to medium-low, cover and begin wilting the onions.

Covering the onions. This steams the onions and helps them to wilt more quickly at the beginning of the cooking process.

Covering the onions. This steams the onions and helps them to wilt more quickly at the beginning of the cooking process.

2.  After the first 30 minutes (stirring after each 15 minutes), uncover the onions (there will be a lot of liquid; it will cook down), add the thyme, and continue cooking until the onions are cooked down as much as you prefer, stirring every 15 minutes.  (If you are cooking your onions until they become very soft, you will want to stir them more often as they soften so they don’t begin to burn.)

After 15 minutes. The onions have begun to soften and release their liquid.

After 15 minutes. The onions have begun to soften and release their liquid.

After 30 minutes. More wilted and more liquid.

After 30 minutes. More wilted and more liquid.

Adding the thyme.

Adding the thyme.

At 45 minutes.  I generally cook them further down than this.  However, at this point, it's up to you how much further you'd like to go.

At 45 minutes. I generally cook them further down than this. However, at this point, it’s up to you how much further you’d like to go.

At 1 hour.  This is usually where I'll stop. I don't necessarily want the onions caramelized, just very soft and sweet.

At 1 hour. This is usually where I’ll stop. I don’t necessarily want the onions caramelized, just very soft and sweet.

You want your onions to be soft, but not necessarily caramelized.

3.  Once the onions are cooked to your preference, increase the temperature to medium-high, add the white wine or apple cider (if using) and cook until the wine has evaporated.

Adding the wine.  Let this cook down until most of it has evaporated.  If you don't want to use wine, use unsweetened apple cider.   Or, omit this step all together.

Adding the wine. Let this cook down until most of it has evaporated.
If you don’t want to use wine, use unsweetened apple cider.
Or, omit this step all together.

4.  Add the broth and bring to a boil.  Lower the heat to medium and cook for 30 minutes.  Taste for seasoning.

Adding the broth. You can also use chicken or vegetable broths.

Adding the broth. You can also use chicken or vegetable broths.

5.  If you want to do the more traditional serving method, here it goes:  Turn on your oven to broil and place the rack in the top position. Ladle the soup into oven-proof bowls (the best bowls are ones that have handles; you can buy these at any restaurant supply – if you don’t have bowls with handles, place them on a baking sheet), place a piece of the toasted bread in the center and sprinkle on a healthy amount of the cheese.  Place the bowls under the broiler for just a minute or two so until the cheese melts and gets brown and bubbly.  Carefully remove the bowls from the oven and serve.

If you don’t want to go that route, simply serve the soup with the bread and cheese on the side.

The best breads to use are crusty, day-old, European-style.  This is one I made a couple of days before.

The best breads to use are crusty, day-old, European-style. This is one I made a couple of days before.

Grated Gruyere. You can also use Emmenthaler or Swiss cheeses as well.  I'm not sure why these became the most common cheeses for Onion Soup, but they are perfect.

Grated Gruyere. You can also use Emmenthal or Swiss cheeses as well. I’m not sure why these became the most common cheeses for Onion Soup, but they are perfect.

I prefer to serve my soup this way.  Bread on the side with the cheese on top of the soup.  I find it easier to eat and a whole lot less mess to clean up.  Of course, if you prefer the more traditonal gratin method, go for it.

I prefer to serve my soup this way. Bread on the side with the cheese on top of the soup. I find it easier to eat and a whole lot less mess to clean up. Of course, if you prefer the more traditonal gratin method, go for it.

 

Enjoy and stay warm!

 

 

Ossobuco d’Agnello 0

Posted on November 14, 2013 by Sahar

This time of year provides the perfect excuse to break out some of the recipes that I would never make the rest of the year.  Which, in central Texas, means that I have only about 3 months to indulge in some of my favorite comfort foods.

Ossobuco is one of them.  With the rich lamb, sauce, and risotto, it’s a wonderful accompaniment to a cold night.

The name literally means “bone with a hole” (osso – bone; buco – hole).  Ossobuco is a dish (legendarily) created in the Milano area in northern Italy in the 19th century.  Some say it was created by local farmers as a way to cook tougher cuts of meat (i.e. shanks – the shin portion of the leg. The fore shank is the bottom part of the shin; the hind shnk the upper part of the shin.); others, it was created in an osteria.

The original recipe is made with veal shanks, cinnamon, and bay leaves with no tomato.  The more modern and more popular version is made with tomatoes, vegetables, and red wine.  And, while veal shank is still used widely, lamb shank is gaining in popularity.

As for myself, I prefer the lamb shanks.  I find they have far more flavor.  And, if you can get hind shanks, more meat for the money.

***********************

A few notes:

1.  In this example, I’m using fore shanks.  The butcher I bought these from didn’t have hind shanks that day.  But, they were large and worked well in this dish.  Also, I bought these still in the cryovac packaging.  The butcher had received them from the farm that morning and they hadn’t been fully trimmed yet.  More than likely, the shanks you buy will be already trimmed and ready to go.

2.  If you prefer not to use wine, then you can omit it all together.  As substitutions for red wine you can use extra stock for deglazing (you can add 1 tablespoon red wine or balsamic vinegar per 1 cup of  stock for tartness), or 100% cranberry or pomegranate juice; for white wine, you can use extra chicken or vegetable stock (you can add 1 tablespoon lemon juice or white wine vinegar to 1 cup of stock for tartness), verjus (a juice made from unripe green grapes), or unsweetened apple cider or juice.

3.  The traditional accompaniment for this dish is risotto.  However, of you prefer, you can also serve this with polenta, mashed potatoes, or pasta.  If you do use pasta, use a shaped pasta (such as campenelle or rotini)  or a wide pasta (such as paprdelle or bucatini).

4.  Gremolata is served alongside the Ossobuco as a way to cut through the richness of the dish.

 

The ingredients

The ingredients for everything.

The ingredients for the Ossobuco.

The ingredients for the Ossobuco.

The produce: Starting from top left - lemon zest, garlic; middle, from top - carrots, celery, onion; right, from top - thyme, rosemary

The produce: Starting from top left – lemon zest, garlic; middle, from top – carrots, celery, onion; right, from top – thyme, rosemary

Lamb shank fresh from the farm. If you can get hind shanks, do so.  These fore shanks were great.  I just had to clean them.

Lamb shank fresh from the farm. If you can get hind shanks, do so. These fore shanks were great. I just had to clean them.

Cleaning the lamb shank. You must remove the silverskin (or have your butcher do it). It doesn't cook down and your meat will be chewy and tough.

Cleaning the lamb shank. You must remove the silverskin (or have your butcher do it). It doesn’t cook down and your meat will be chewy and tough.

The cleaned lamb shank.  Admittedly not perfect, but a whole lot better.

The cleaned lamb shank. Admittedly not perfect, but a whole lot better.

 

Lamb Ossobuco

4 large lamb shanks (preferably hind shanks)

Salt

Flour

3 tbsp. Olive Oil

1 lg. onion, minced

2 carrots, peeled, either diced or cut into thin rounds

2 stalks celery, diced

3 cl. garlic, minced

1/2 c. tomato paste

1 c. dry red wine

2 sprigs rosemary

4 sprigs thyme

1 ea. 2″ strip lemon zest

2 – 3 c. chicken or beef broth (or a combination of both), more if needed

Salt & Pepper to taste

 

1.  Preheat the oven to 350F.  Lightly sprinkle salt on the lamb shanks.  Then, lightly flour the them, shaking off any excess flour.  Set aside.

2.  In a large Dutch oven or a deep, stove-proof casserole dish, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat.  Add the lamb shanks and sear until browned.  Cook the them in batches if needed.  Remove the shanks from the heat and set aside.

Browning the shanks. Do this in batches if you need to; don't crowd the pan or the shanks will steam and not brown.

Browning the shanks. Do this in batches if you need to; don’t crowd the pan or the shanks will steam and not brown.

3.  Reduce the heat to medium.  Add the vegetables and garlic and saute until the vegetables are slightly softened, about 5 minutes.

Sauteeing the vegetables.

Sauteing the vegetables.

Add in the tomato paste and cook another 3 – 4 minutes.

Adding the tomato paste. Let the paste cook until it begins to turn a burnt orange color.  This is the sugar caramelizing and helps to deepen the flavor.

Adding the tomato paste. Let the paste cook until it begins to turn a burnt orange color. This is the sugar caramelizing and helps to deepen the flavor.

Add in the red wine to deglaze the pan and cook another 5 – 7 minutes to reduce the wine and soften the flavor.

Cooking down the wine.

Cooking down the wine.

Then, add the rosemary, thyme, lemon zest, and 1 teaspoon each salt and pepper.  Simmer another 2 – 3 minutes.

Adding the lemon zest, rosemary, and thyme.

Adding the lemon zest, rosemary, and thyme.

4.  Lay the reserved shanks on top of the vegetables and add just enough broth to come halfway up the shanks.

Ready for the oven.

Ready for the oven.

Cover the casserole or Dutch oven and place in the oven.  Cook for 2 to 2-1/2 hours (flipping the meat halfway through) or until the meat is tender.  Check for liquid content, adding more if needed.

5.  After you take the baking dish out of the oven, remove the shanks and set aside.

So tender, it's falling off the bone.

So tender, it’s falling off the bone.

If you like, set the baking dish on the stove over medium-high heat to reduce the sauce.  Remove the rosemary and thyme stalks and discard.

I like to reduce the sauce a bit to concentrate the flavor. It's up to you, however.

I like to reduce the sauce a bit to concentrate the flavor. It’s up to you, however.

6.  Traditionally, the shank is served whole with the risotto and Gremolata.  However, if you prefer (and I do if I use fore shanks), trim the meat off the bone and mix it back into the sauce; then serve with the Risotto and Gremolata.

The meat trimmed off the bone. I prefer to do this if I use fore shanks.

The meat trimmed off the bone. I prefer to do this if I use fore shanks.

The meat back in the sauce. You can do this if you want to help stretch the meat. I like to do it when I use fore shanks.

The meat back in the sauce. You can do this if you want to help stretch the meat. I like to do it when I use fore shanks.

 

******************************************************************************************************************************

 

The ingredients

The ingredients

Saffron. The world's most expensive spice (currently about $3000/lb.). It comes fron the stamen of the Crocus flower. It takes approximately 50,000 - 75,000 flowers to make one pound of saffron.   Be sure to buy saffron that is in it's whole form. Don't buy powdered saffron; it's usually cut with turmeric.

Saffron. The world’s most expensive spice (currently about $3000/lb.). It comes from the stamen of the Crocus flower. It takes approximately 50,000 – 75,000 flowers to make one pound of saffron.
Be sure to buy saffron that is in it’s whole form. Don’t buy powdered saffron; it’s usually cut with turmeric.

 

Risotto alla Milanese

6 c. stock – beef, chicken, lamb, or vegetable

1 tsp. saffron, crushed

4 tbsp butter

1 small onion, finely diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 1/2 c. carnaroli or arborrio rice

1/2 c. dry white wine

3/4 c. fresh grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Salt & Pepper to taste

 

1.  Bring 5 cups of the stock to a boil in a medium saucepan.  Reduce the heat to low and keep the stock warm.  In a small saucepan heat the remaining 1 cup of stock with the saffron.  Again, reduce the heat to low and keep warm.

2.  In a large saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons of butter and the olive oil over medium-high heat.  Add the onion and garlic and sauté until softened, about 5 – 7 minutes.

Sauteeing the onion and garlic.

Sauteing the onion and garlic.

Add in the rice and sauté, stirring constantly, another 5 minutes.

Adding the rice.  This will help to flavor the rice and begin the cooking process.

Adding the rice. This will help to flavor the rice and begin the cooking process.

Add a pinch or two of salt, stir again, and add in the wine.  Stir constantly until the wine has been absorbed by the rice.

Adding the wine. At this point, constant stirring of the rice will help to release the starch.

Adding the wine. At this point, constant stirring of the rice will help to release the starch.

3.  Lower the heat under the rice to medium.  Begin adding the 5 cups of stock, 1 cup at a time, stirring after each addition until the broth has been absorbed.

Adding the broth. Be sure to constantly stir the rice.

Adding the broth. Be sure to constantly stir the rice.

After you have added the 3rd cup of broth, add in the broth with the saffron.  Continue stirring.

Adding the saffron broth. Now, the risotto will become its classic yellow color.

Adding the saffron broth. Now, the risotto will become its classic yellow color.

4.  After you have added the 5th cup of stock, begin testing the rice to make sure it is al dente.  You may not need all the broth.  When the rice is al dente (or to your liking), add the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and the Parmigiano.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Serve immediately.

Adding the butter and parmesan.

Adding the butter and parmesan.

 

******************************************************************************************************************************

 

The Gremolata Ingredients

The Gremolata Ingredients

 

Gremolata

Zest of 2 lemons

1 bunch of Italian (flat-leaf) parsley, minced

Salt to taste

2 tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive oil

 

Mix all the ingredients together in a small bowl and serve along side the Ossobuco.

 

The finished Gremolata. Easy.

The finished Gremolata. Easy.

 

 

Buon Giorno.

Buon Giorno.

 

Buon Apetito!

 

Mole Poblano 1

Posted on November 07, 2013 by Sahar

Once again, the weather has taken its temporary turn towards cool & comfortable here in Central Texas.  The perfect excuse to break out the mole.  Again.

I’ve made mole twice before on this blog –  Mole Verde (Oct. 9, 2012: http://www.tartqueenskitchen.com/?p=1120) and Mole Rojo (Oct. 30. 2012: http://www.tartqueenskitchen.com/?p=1170).

The mole I’m making this time is probably the best known as well as the original: Mole Poblano.

Legend has it that in the 16th Century this  dish was invented in desperation by the nuns of the Convent of Santa Rosa in Puebla de los Angeles.  They were an impoverished order expecting a visit from the Archbishop and they really had nothing to feed him.  So, they basically threw together what they had: day-old bread, chocolate, some chiles, nuts, an old turkey.  The results were, shall we say, heavenly.  Apparently, the Archbishop loved the meal. And a masterpiece was created.

*******************

For the last mole I made for you, Mole Rojo, I used exclusively chili powders.  This was to demonstrate that they could be used as a substitution for the dried chiles and makes the preparation much easier.  In this recipe, I do things the more traditional way, with dried chiles.  It takes longer, most definitely.  But, for mole purists, I hope I have redeemed myself with you.

A few notes:

1.  When using the dried chiles, make sure they are fresh-looking and pliable (a contradiction, I know).  If the chiles break apart when you try to bend them, it simply means they are too old and dried out (and possibly infested).  You want the chilies to have retained their essential oils.  That’s what gives them their flavor and aroma.

2.  The best place to find the chiles (and all the ingredients for this recipe) is at a market that caters to the Hispanic community. (Here in Austin, my favorite is El Rancho Supermercado.)  If they don’t have it, it’s pretty unlikely anyone else will.  Besides, it’s a great place to go to just explore and try new things. Plus I get to practice my limited Spanish.

3.  I used a 4-lb bone-in turkey breast for this example.  You can use leftover turkey and skip step 1.  However, be sure to use chicken or turkey broth instead of water.  Otherwise, you won’t get the flavor you’re looking for.

4.  This recipe makes a lot.  You can serve up to 8.  But, it does freeze beautifully.

 

The Ingredients

The Ingredients

Sesame and Anise Seeds

Sesame and Anise Seeds

Clockwise:

Clockwise: Brown Sugar, ground Cloves, ground Cinnamon

Clockwise: raw Almonds, Pecans, Raisins

Clockwise: raw Almonds, Pecans, Raisins

Masa

Masa

 

Onion, Garlic, Romas, Tomatillos

Onion, Garlic, Romas, Tomatillos

 

Mexican Chocolate disks

Mexican Chocolate disks

 

Chiles, left to right: Chipotle, Pasilla, Ancho, Mulatto

Chiles, left to right: Chipotle, Pasilla, Ancho, Mulato

 

Chipotle - smoked and dried Jalapeño

Chipotle – smoked and dried Jalapeño

 

Pasilla Chilie: dried Chilaca pepper.

Pasilla Chilie – dried Chilaca pepper.

Ancho Chile - dried Poblano Pepper

Ancho Chile – dried Poblano Pepper

Mulato Chile - dried Mulato Pepper

Mulato Chile – dried Mulato Pepper

 

4 c. chicken broth, turkey broth, or water

4 lbs. turkey

 

8 ea. mulato chiles

-or-

4 tbsp. mulato chile powder

 

6 ea. ancho chiles

-or-

3 tbsp. ancho chile powder

 

4 ea. pasilla chiles

-or-

2 tbsp. chile powder

 

1 ea. chipotle chile

-or-

1 tsp. chipotle chile powder

 

1 lg. white onion, peeled and cut into 1/4’s, stem left on

6 cloves garlic, peeled, stem removed

3 ea. tomatillos, papery skin removed and rinsed

4 ea. Roma tomatoes, rinsed

2 tbsp. sesame seeds

1/2 tsp. anise seeds

1/4 c. vegetable oil

1/2 c. raw almonds

1/2 c. pecans

1/2 c. raisins

1/4 c. masa

1/2 tsp. ground cloves

1/2 ground cinnamon (canela)

2 tbsp. brown sugar

2 tbsp. tomato paste

2 disks Mexican chocolate, chopped

Salt & pepper to taste

Additional sesame seeds for garnish

 

1.  Place the turkey and stock or water to a large stockpot and heat over medium-high heat.  Once the stock has come to a boil, turn the heat down to medium-low and simmer until the meat is cooked, about 30 – 45 minutes.  Once the turkey is done, take it from the stock and set aside until cool enough to shred.  Turn the heat off under the stock until all the other ingredients are ready.

2.  If you’re using whole chiles, remove the stems and cut the chiles open to remove the seeds.

Cutting open the chile. Using gloves is highly recommended. Tis not only keeps your hands from getting stained and sticky, it keeps the chile oils off your hands.

Cutting the stem off  the chile. Using gloves is highly recommended. This not only keeps your hands from getting stained and sticky, it keeps the chile oils off your hands. A pair of sharp kitchen shears helps, too.

Cutting open the chile.

Cutting open the chile.

The insides. You want to get rid of as many seeds and veins as possible.  They'll make the final mole bitter if you don't.

The insides. You want to get rid of as many seeds and veins as possible. They’ll make the final mole bitter if you don’t.

Removing the seeds and veins.  If you have a good dried chile, there will be some oil residue inside. This is a good thing.  And, again, the gloves are a very good idea.

Removing the seeds and veins. If you have a good dried chile, there will be some oil residue inside. This is a good thing. And, again, the gloves are a very good idea.

Dry roast the chiles in a heavy skillet over high heat for a few seconds on each side to soften slightly.

Toasting the chiles. This not only helps to soften them up a bit, but it also starts to cook the oils and enhance the flavor.

Toasting the chiles. This not only helps to soften them up a bit, but it also starts to cook the oils and enhance the flavor.

Place the chiles in a bowl and cover with boiling water.  Let sit for 30 minutes. (It’s OK if they sit a little longer.)

Soaking the chiles.  I like to put a small plate on top to keep them under water.

Soaking the chiles. I like to put a small plate on top to keep them under water.

Drain the chiles and discard the water.

The chiles after soaking for 30 minutes.  They'll increase in size and become lighter in color.

The chiles after soaking for 30 minutes. They’ll increase in size and become lighter in color. (The water hasn’t been drained off in this photo. Be sure to drain it.)

Puree the chiles in a food processor or blender (you’ll need to do this in batches) until you make a paste.  Set aside.

The pureed chiles.

The pureed chiles.

3.  If you’re using the chile powders, dry roast them over high heat in a heavy skillet until they just begin to release a scent.  Stir constantly to be sure the powders don’t burn.  Pour the powder onto a plate or another flat surface and spread it out to help it cool. (Basically, skip step 2 all together.)

4.  While the chiles are soaking, wipe out the pan.  Dry roast the onion quarters, garlic, tomatillos, and tomato.  You want black spots, but you don’t want to over-brown the vegetables.

Browning the fresh stuff: Starting with garlic.  You just want a few brown spots; don't over-brown.

Browning the fresh stuff: Starting with garlic. You just want a few brown spots; don’t over-brown.

Browning the onion quarters. Once these are cool enough to handle, cut off the stem ends.

Browning the onion quarters. Once these are cool enough to handle, cut off the stem ends.

 

The tomatillos.  Be sure they don't burst in the skillet.

The tomatillos. Be sure they don’t burst in the skillet.

The Romas. be sure they don't burst in the skillet. When they are cool enough to handle, peel off as much of the skin as you can, cut off the stem end, cut into quarters, and remove the seeds.

The Romas. Be sure they don’t burst in the skillet. When they are cool enough to handle, peel off as much of the skin as you can, cut off the stem end, cut into quarters, and remove the seeds.

Once you’ve roasted the tomatoes, peel and seed them.  Cut the stems off the onion quarters.  Set the vegetables aside.

5.  Take the skillet off the heat and let cool slightly.  Add the sesame seeds and anise seeds.  Quickly roast until the seeds are toasted.  Pour onto a small plate and set aside.

Toasting the sesame and anise seeds.  You want them to have an aroma and begin to "jump" in the skillet.  Immediately take them off the heat and pour onto a flat surface and spread out to cool.

Toasting the sesame and anise seeds. You want them to have an aroma and begin to “jump” in the skillet. Immediately take them off the heat and pour onto a flat surface and spread out to cool.

6.  Add the oil to the skillet.  Lightly fry the almonds and pecans.  Drain on paper towels and let cool slightly.

Frying the pecans and almonds.  You just want to do this until they begin to take on some extra color.

Frying the pecans and almonds. You just want to do this until they begin to take on some extra color.

Grind the almonds, pecans, sesame seeds, and anise seeds together.  Set aside.

The ground nuts and seeds.  This smells amazing.

The ground nuts and seeds. This smells amazing.

7.  Lightly fry the raisins until they just begin to puff.  Remove from the oil and drain on paper towels.

Frying the raisins.

Frying the raisins.

8.  Turn off the heat under the oil.  Add the masa and make a roux (don’t let it get too dark).  Pour the roux into a small bowl and set aside.

Making a roux with now a rather flavorful oil.

Making a roux with now a rather flavorful oil.

9.  Turn the heat back on under the stockpot with the broth to medium-high.  Add in the chile paste or powder, onion, garlic, tomatillos, tomatoes, ground nut & spice mix, raisins, tomato paste, brown sugar, cloves, cinnamon, and 1 teaspoon each salt and pepper.  Bring the mixture to a boil, lower the heat to medium-low, and cook for 45 minutes, stirring frequently.

Almost everything in the pot with the chicken/turkey stock.

Almost everything in the pot with the chicken/turkey stock.

10.  Meanwhile, shred the turkey.  Discard any bone, skin, and gristle.  Set the turkey aside.

Shredded turkey.  In this recipe, I used turkey breast; but, you can use whatever you prefer. If you have leftover turkey, use both dark and white meat.

Shredded turkey. In this recipe, I used turkey breast; however, use whatever you prefer.

11.  After 45 minutes, remove the stockpot from the heat and let cool slightly.

After 45 minutes.  The vegetables have softened and the ground nuts have helped to thicken the sauce.

After 45 minutes. The vegetables have softened and the ground nuts have helped to thicken the sauce.

Puree the mole with an immersion blender or in a blender or food processor.  If you want a super-smooth mole, after you’ve pureed it, you can pass it through a strainer.

Thoroughly puree the mole. Make sure the blender isn't running when you pull it out of the hot liquid. Bless whoever invented the immersion blender.

Thoroughly puree the mole. Make sure the blender isn’t running when you pull it out of the hot liquid.
Bless whoever invented the immersion blender.

12.  Put the mole back on the heat and add the masa roux and the chocolate.

Adding the masa roux and chocolate. They just melt right on in.

Adding the masa roux and chocolate. They just melt right on in.

Cook for 5 minutes.  Taste for seasoning.  Add the turkey and cook for another 15 minutes, stirring frequently.

Stirring in the turkey.  Almost there.

Stirring in the turkey.
Almost there.

13.  Serve the mole with rice and corn tortillas.  Sprinkle with sesame seeds for garnish.

The ultimate reward for all your hard work.

The ultimate reward for all your hard work.

 

Buen Apetito!

 

 

Tomato Soup & Welsh Rarebit Souffles 1

Posted on May 23, 2013 by Sahar

“What exactly is Welsh Rarebit?” you’re probably asking yourself.

Most of us know this dish as basically cheese on toast.  Not a bad thing.

It’s actually a dish that was born of poverty in 18th Century Wales.  At that time, only the wealthiest could afford meat.  Cheese was the “meat” of the poor.  Over time, “Rarebit” became the bastardization of “rabbit”.

Most recipes that I’ve found contain some sort of alcohol, generally ale.  However, I wanted a recipe that didn’t have any alcohol.  And, I finally came across one written by Jennifer Paterson of “Two Fat Ladies” fame.  It is different than traditional Rarebit, which is generally a cheese sauce, in that this recipe is more of a souffle-style.

This won’t behave like what most would think of as a souffle.  It certainly doesn’t rise like one.  The souffle-style comes from the base  (cheese and egg yolks) folded into beaten egg whites which makes the topping a souffle effect.

The tomato soup is just a natural paring.

Tomato soup goes with just about everything.

Welsh Rarebit mixed with tomato soup or tomatoes is known as “Blushing Bunny”.  Huh.

 

Now.  To the recipes.

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Now, of course, with either of these recipes, you can serve them separately with a simple salad to make a nice lunch or a light dinner.  Together, they make a rather hearty end-of-day vegetarian supper.

For the Rarebit, if you want to use other cheeses or all of one or the other, go ahead.  However, cheddar is the most traditional.  Be sure to use a sharp cheddar.  Once you add the egg whites, it will neutralize the flavor of the cheese mixture, so you want a stong-tasting cheese.  Longhorn cheddar won’t do.

With summer coming up, fresh tomatoes will be abundant.  If you want to use your fresh home-grown tomatoes, by all means, do.  Use the equivalent amount to fresh tomatoes.  Depending on how “rustic” you like your soup, you can peel and seed your fresh tomatoes before using them in the soup if you prefer.  It’s up to you.

As for canned, I use Muir Glen Fire Roasted.  If you want to use your fresh tomatoes but would like the roasted flavor, you can either roast your tomatoes on the grill or slow-roast in your oven.

 

Tomato Soup:

The ingredients

The ingredients

The spices (clockwise from top): Red Pepper Flakes, ground Bleck Pepper, Kosher Salt

The spices (clockwise from top): Red Pepper Flakes, ground Black Pepper, Kosher Salt

 

2 tbsp. olive oil

1 small onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes, optional

4 tbsp. tomato paste

1 lg. (28 oz.) can tomatoes

1/4 c. balsamic vinegar

1 lg. sprig rosemary, left whole

4 c. vegetable broth

Pinch sugar

Salt & Pepper to taste

1 bunch fresh basil, julienned

Shredded Parmesan or Romano

 

1.  In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, saute the onions and garlic until the onions begin to soften, about 5 minutes.

Sauteing the onions and garlic.

Sauteing the onions and garlic.

2.  Add the red pepper flakes, if using, and cook another minute.

3.  Add the tomato paste and, stirring frequently, cook until the tomato paste begins to take on a rust-colored appearance (this indicates the sugars in the tomato paste are caramelizing).

Cooking the tomato paste. The paste is beginning to turn a burnt orange color.

Cooking the tomato paste. The paste is beginning to turn a burnt orange color.

4.  Add the tomatoes, rosemary, vinegar, broth, sugar, salt & pepper.  Stir until the soup is well mixed.  Cover and bring to a boil.  Once the soup has come to a boil, uncover, lower the heat to medium-low, and cook for 30 minutes.  Stir occasionally.

After adding the tomatoes, broth, rosemary, vinegar, and spices

After adding the tomatoes, broth, rosemary, vinegar, and spices

Bringing the soup to a boil.

Bringing the soup to a boil.

5.  After the first 30 minutes of cooking, remove the soup from the heat and remove the rosemary stem.  Let the soup cool slightly.

After 30 minutes of cooking.

After 30 minutes of cooking.

6.  With either a stand blender (in batches) or a stick blender, puree the soup.  Make it as smooth or as texture as you like.  If you want a super-smooth soup, then pour the pureed soup through a strainer.  Taste for seasoning.

Pureeing the soup with a stick blender. (I find the stick blender easier and it uses fewer dishes.)

Pureeing the soup with a stick blender. (I find the stick blender easier and it uses fewer dishes.)

7.  Put the soup back on the stove to reheat over medium heat and just bring back to a boil.  Turn off the heat and add the basil.  Set the soup aside and let the basil “steep”.

 

Adding the basil and letting it "steep" in the soup.

Adding the basil and letting it “steep” in the soup.

 

Meanwhile, while the soup is cooking, make the Rarebit.

 

The Ingredients

The Ingredients

The Spices (clockwise from top center): Paprika, Kosher Salt, Cayenne Pepper, dry Mustard, Black Pepper

The Spices (clockwise from top center): Paprika, Kosher Salt, Cayenne Pepper, dry Mustard, Black Pepper

Cheddar and Gruyere cheeses

Cheddar and Gruyere cheeses

1 c. grated extra sharp Cheddar Cheese

1 c. grated Gruyère or Emmenthal Cheese

3 eggs, separated

1/4 tsp. cream of tartar

1 tsp. dry mustard

1/2 tsp. cayenne

1/2 tsp. paprika

1 tsp. Worcestershire Sauce

Salt & pepper to taste

4 thick slices bread (sourdough or country loaf works best)

 

1.  In a large bowl mix the cheese with the egg yolks, Worcestershire, dry mustard, cayenne, paprika, salt & pepper.  Set aside.

The cheese mixed with the eggs and spices.

The cheese mixed with the eggs and spices.

2.  Preheat the oven to 450F.  Place the bread on a baking sheet lines with foil and parchment paper and toast the bread until it is lightly toasted on both sides.  Set aside.

Toasted bread.

Toasted bread.

3.  In a mixer, beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar until the whites reach stiff peak stage.

Stiffly beaten egg whites.

Perfectly beaten egg whites.

4.  Take 1/4 of the egg whites and mix them into the cheese mixture to lighten it up a bit.

Folding in the egg whites.

Folding in the egg whites.

5.  Take the remaining egg whites, 1/3 at a time, and fold them into the cheese mixture.  Don’t worry about making a homogenous mixture.  You just want to get a good mix with the cheese.

Ready for the bread. Don't worry about making a homogeneous mixture.

Ready for the bread. Don’t worry about making a homogeneous mixture.

6.  Divide the mixture evenly between the pieces of bread (there will be quite a lot).

Ready for the oven.

Ready for the oven.

 

Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake for 10  – 12 minutes or until the souffles are brown and have risen slightly.

The finished rarebit. Golden brown, slighly puffy, a little crispy.

The finished rarebit. Golden brown, slightly puffy, a little crispy.

 

Finish the meal:  By this point, the soup should be finished and the basil “steeping”.

Spoon the soup into a bowl and sprinkle some Parmesan or Romano over the top.

The finished soup.

The finished soup. Parmesan to be added.

Place one of the Rarebit on a plate.

The finsihed Rarebit.

The finished Rarebit. Molten gooddness.

Suppertime!

Supper!

Supper! Yummy, yummy supper.

 

Enjoy!

 

Posole Verde 0

Posted on March 15, 2013 by Sahar

When my husband, Steve, was a vegetarian, I had to come up with all sorts of variations on my favorite dishes to accommodate his dietary needs. (He has since come back to the dark side.)  Since one of my favorites has always been Posole, I wanted to come up with a variation that we would both enjoy. (For more on posole, see my Feb. 28, 2012 post “Posole (…or Pozole)”.)

Traditional posole is always made with meat.  Usually pork.  However, my recipe is a quick, easy, and most importantly, tasty recipe that will make vegetarian and non-vegetarians alike very happy. And full.

Now, to the recipe.

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Notes:

a) I realize I’m wandering dangerously close into Sandra Lee territory with all the canned ingredients.  But, trust me, they work in this dish.  However, if you’d like to use all fresh, be my guest.

b) If you omit the cheese as a garnish and cook the hominy from dried, you can make this dish vegan.  If you’d like to add some protein, use chicken broth and add some cooked chicken at the end.

The ingredients

The ingredients

Clockwise from top: ground cumin, salt, black pepper, Mexican oregano

Clockwise from top: ground cumin, salt, black pepper, Mexican oregano

 

2 tbsp. vegetable or canola oil

1 med. white onion, diced

3 cl. garlic, minced

1 small can (approximately 1/2 c.) salsa verde

2 small cans (approxomately 1/2 c.) chopped green chiles, hot, mild, or a combination

2 cans hominy, drained

1 tsp. dried Mexican oregano

1/2 tsp. ground cumin

1 tsp. Kosher salt

1/2 tsp. ground black pepper

4 c. vegetable broth

few dashes green Tabasco

Juice of 1 lime, or to taste

 

For garnish:

chopped avocado

diced queso fresco

chopped cilantro

fresh limes, quartered (because I like more lime than most normal people)

corn tortillas

 

1.  Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium high heat.  Add the onions and garlic.  Saute until the onion is soft, about 5 minutes.

Sauteing the onion and garlic.

Sauteing the onion and garlic.

 

2.  Add the salsa verde and the chiles.  Saute another 2 -3 minutes.  Add the oregano, cumin, salt & pepper.  Saute another 2 – 3 minutes.

Sauteing the salsa verde, chiles, and spices

Sauteing the salsa verde, chiles, and spices

3.  Add the hominy and saute for another 2 – 3 minutes.

Adding the hominy

Adding the hominy

 

4.  Add the vegetable broth and a few dashes of the green Tabasco.

Adding the broth and Tabasco.

Adding the broth and Tabasco.

 

Cover the saucepan and bring the broth to a boil.  Uncover, lower the heat to medium low, and cook for 30 – 45 minutes.  The soup will thicken slightly as it cooks.

Stir frequently.  Taste for seasoning after the first 30 minutes.

The posole after 45 minutes of cooking.  It's reduced and thickened slightly.

The posole after 45 minutes of cooking. It’s reduced and thickened slightly.

5.  After the initial cooking time, add the lime juice and cook another 5 minutes.  Taste the soup for seasoning.

Mmmm....

Mmmm….

6.  Serve the posole with queso fresco, chopped cilantro, chopped avocado, and more lime.  Have heated corn tortillas on the side.

The condiment tray. clockwise from top: chopped cilantro, queso fresco, chopped avocado, limes.

The condiment tray. clockwise from top: chopped cilantro, queso fresco, chopped avocado, limes.

Dinner!

Dinner!

 

Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mole Verde 5

Posted on October 09, 2012 by Sahar

I love mole. For me, it’s another one of those comfort foods that always make me happy. It’s also one of the great things about growing up in a state where the Mexican influence in food is so prevelant.

 One of the origin myths of mole has the nuns of Convent Santa Rosa in the 16th Century anticipating a visit from the Archbishop.  They were a rather impoverished convent and had nothing to serve him.  In their panic, they cooked together what they could find – seeds, chocolate, day-old bread, nuts – and cooked it for hours into a sweet, thick sauce.  They added the only meat they had, an old turkey, and served it to the Archbishop.  He loved it.

Whew…

Little did the nuns of Santa Rosa know, they invented the National Dish of Mexico.  While it is mostly prepared for the holidays, it can be eaten any time of year.

All moles are very time consuming, labor intensive, and require many ingredients. Some sources state that some moles have as many as 100 ingredients, but that’s almost certainly an exaggeration (but, who knows). However, 30 ingredients isn’t unheard of, and some mole recipes can list 10 different varieties of chiles. Other ingredients can include: peanuts, almonds, fried bread, plantains, lard, sugar, chocolate, cinnamon, and cloves.

It is said there are seven types of mole:

Mole Poblano – The most popular of mole sauces used today is mole poblano. It is what is considered the “national dish” of Mexico throughout the world. mole poblano originated in the state of Puebla and is made up of more than 20 different ingredients. The main ingredients are chili peppers and chocolate (which gives mole poblano its distinctive flavor and dark color). It has a slight sweetness to it.

Mole Negro (black)  –  While the region of Oaxaca is considered “the land of the seven moles,” its main mole is mole negro. This version of mole  is darker than the traditional mole poblano, but has the same rich flavor. Mole negro is known for being the most difficult mole sauces to make, due to its large ingredient list that contains chili peppers, chocolate, onions, garlic, seeds, spices, nuts and hoja santa. Hoja santa is a plant that gives mole negro is distinctive flavor and color.

  It is also generally sweeter than Mole Poblano.

Mole Verde (green) – Mole verde originated in the region of Oaxaca and gets its name from its green color. This color is achieved by using toasted pumpkin seeds, romaine lettuce, cilantro and tomatillos. Mole verde is has a milder flavor than most of the other mole sauces, and is popular in dishes that contain chicken.

Rojo (red) – Can be made from guajillo chiles, ancho chiles, pecans, tomatoes, peanuts, chocolate, garlic, onions and spices.

  It has a medium-heat depending on the amount and types of chiles used.

Mole Amarillo (yellow) Made from ancho chiles, guajillo chiles, tomatillos, spices, cilantro, and the aromatic herb hoja santa.

Mole de cacahuate (peanut) –  Made from peanuts and chiles.
Mole chichilo is made from pasilla chiles, tomatoes, tomatillos, spices and masa harina.

Mole coloradito (red Oaxacan) – Made from ancho chiles, almonds, tomatoes, seeds, bananas and spices.

(information sources: www.wikipedia.org; www.mexonline.com; www.ehow.com)

One of these days, I’m going to make all of these.

Now, on to the recipe:

************************

The ingredients

 

Mole Verde is a pipian-style mole from Puebla.  The ingredients are all fresh, there’s no chocolate, and there are seeds (usually pumpkin) in the sauce.

3 lbs. chicken

Chicken broth or water

1/2 c. pepitas (hulled pumpkin seeds, unsalted)

2 tsp. cumin seeds

2 tsp. Mexican oregano (I used dried)

1 1/2 tsp. Marjoram (I used dried)

Salt & pepper to taste

1 med white onion, peeled, stem end left on, cut into 1/4’s

4 lg. garlic cloves, peeled, stem end cut off

3 jalapenos

3 poblano peppers

8 tomatillos, papery skin removed and rinsed

1 c. packed spinach leaves

1 bunch clantro, large stem ends trimmed off

1/2 c. chopped parsley

 

1.  Place the chicken pieces into a large pot with just enough chicken broth or water to cover.  Bring the liquid to a boil over high heat, turn the heat down to medium-low and let the chicken simmer until done.  Remove the chicken from the broth and set aside until cool enough to handle and shred.  Discard the skin and bones (unless you want to save the bones for stock).

2.  Heat a heavy skillet on high.  Dry roast the pepitas and cumin seeds.  Stir frequently to keep them from burning.  As soon as the pepitas begin to brown and pop and the cumin seeds begin to have a fragrance pour the seeds onto a plate and let cool.

Dry roasting the pepitas and cumin seeds.

Using a coffee grinder (one that you use only for spices), grind the seeds into a powder.  You’ll need to do this in batches.

The ground seeds. They smell great. Really.

3.  Have a bowl covered with plastic or a large zip bag nearby.  Dry roast the jalapenos and poblanos in the skillet on all sides until the skin is blackened and blistered.  It’s OK if the skin isn’t blistered evenly and there’s still some green.  (Alternately, don’t leave the chiles on the heat for too long or they’ll turn gray.  At that point, you’ve gone too far.)

Dry roasting the chiles and garlic.

Dry roasting the poblanos.

Place the chiles in the bowl and cover or place in the bag and seal.  Allow the chiles to steam to loosen their skins.  Leave until cool enough to handle.

4.  Continue dry roasting with the onion (cut off the stem end after you’ve roasted the onion), garlic, and tomatillos.  Again, you just want to have some black spots.  Make sure you don’t overcook the tomatillos.  You don’t want them to come apart in the skillet.

Roasting the onion.

Roasting the tomatillos.

5.  Remove the chiles from the bag or bowl and peel off as much of the charred skin as you can.

The peeled chiles. Ready for seeding.

Remove the stems and seeds from the poblanos and the stems from the jalapenos.  Depending on how mild or spicy you would like the mole, keep or remove as many of the seeds and membranes from the jalapenos as you like.

5.  Add the oregano, marjoram, salt, pepper, onion, garlic, jalapenos, spinach, cilantro, and parsley to 4 cups of the chicken broth.  Cook over medium heat for 30 minutes.  Remove the pot from the heat and let the mixture cool slightly before pureeing.

The ingredients cooking away.

7.  Meanwhile, if you haven’t done so already, shred the chicken.  Discard the skin.  Discard or save the bones for stock.

8.  Heat the skillet over medium-high heat and add the ground pepitas and cumin.  Add 1/2 cup of the stock and make a paste.  Take the skillet off the heat and set aside.

9.  In a food processor or blender in batches, or with a stick blender in the pot, puree the broth and vegetables until as smooth as you prefer.  Place the pot back on the stove over medium-high heat and add the paste into the mole mixture.  Mix well.  Bring to a boil, lower the heat to medium, and cook for 15 minutes.  The mole will thicken slightly.  Taste for seasoning.

10.  Add the chicken back into the mole and cook another 5 minutes to heat the chicken through.  Serve with rice and tortillas.

 

Note:  I somehow lost some of the photos I took while I was making this dish.  However, you can see the finished mole here: http://weareaustin.com/news/features/morning/stories/vid_8.shtml

Yes. I did a TV spot.  And I was very nervous.

If you would like to see even more mole recipes and even some cajeta cheesecake, I’ll be teaching this class on Friday, October 19 at Central Market North Lamar.

 

Enjoy!

 

 

 

Chicken Stock (or Broth) 0

Posted on August 14, 2012 by Sahar

Look at any (non-vegetarian) cookbook and you’ll see one ingredient that is used in just about every recipe that is a soup, has a sauce, or a gravy.  Chicken broth.

Chicken broth is used mainly for its rather chameleon-like ability to take on the flavor of most dishes.  The flavor is neutral enough to not interfere with the other flavors; rather, it enhances them.  It can be used in vegetable, pork, lamb (depending on the recipe), and, of course, chicken.

In fact, in many recipes that call for water, I’ll use chicken stock instead if I can.  It just makes everything taste better.

But, while a good sauce or gravy can cover up many sins in the kitchen, the sauce or gravy needs to taste just that much better.  So, if you’re using bad stock, there is nothing you can do to hide that.

The words “stock” and “broth” are generally used interchangeably. Because, well, they’re almost exactly the same thing.

According to “The New Food Lover’s Companion, 4th Ed.” (Herbst & Herbst, 2007):

“Stock is the strained liquid that comes from cooking meat or fish (with bones), vegetables, and other seasonings in water to extract their flavors.”

“Broth a liquid that comes from cooking vegetables, meat or fish, and seasonings in water.”

Basically, the difference between the two is one of use or intent. “Broth” is what you end up with at the end of cooking the ingredients; “Stock” is what you use to cook with.  Other definitions will say that a “Stock” is always made with bones while a “Broth” isn’t.  And, indeed, there is a very different “mouth feel “(a technical term used by chefs to describe taste and texture of an ingredient) between the two.

But, whatever you term it, a stock or broth can make or break a recipe.  A good stock will enhance; a bad stock will ruin.  There’s no hiding it.

***************

There are literally dozens of commercial chicken stocks/broths on the market.  Swanson’s (my personal favorite among the lot), Pacific, Kitchen Basics, and Better than Bouillon are a few that come to mind.  Many stores, like Central Market (TX), Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, etc. will have their own brands as well.  You can find regular, organic, low sodium, and even flavored commercial stocks/broths now.

However, I always recommend one thing when buying stock/broth from the grocery store.  Avoid bouillon like the plague.  It’s little more than tiny blocks of salt with a little artificial flavor enhancement.

As good as some commercial stocks/broths are, there is really nothing to compare to homemade.

Homemade chicken broth is fairly inexpensive, easy, and, best of all, delicious.  You can control the flavor of the stock, make it with all organic ingredients, make it low- or no-sodium.  It’s completely up to you.

The recipe that I’ll be giving you today is for a traditional white (non-roasted) chicken stock.  This means that all of the ingredients are raw when they go into the water.

Now, on to the recipe.

**********

I will preface this recipe by saying that I don’t particularly care for a lot of vegetable flavor in my meat stocks.  I save that for my vegetable stock.  So, I keep the vegetables to a minimum.  Sometimes, I just leave them out altogether.

You don’t need to get fancy about chopping the vegetables for this.  Just make sure they’re peeled and cleaned.  You can simply cut them into large chunks and that will be fine.  In fact, I worked with a lady who would simply break the celery and carrots in half and toss them in.  No muss, no fuss.

Also, I never put salt into my chicken stock.  I do this so I can control the salt in the recipe later.

One more note about the cuts of chicken. Whole chickens are best.  Just be sure to remove the giblets (if there are any) and thoroughly rinse the chicken.  Trim as much of the fat as you can (although natural, free range, and organic chickens will have less fat) and, very important, leave the skin on.  It has a lot of flavor, just like the bones.  I will sometimes use, as I did in this particular instance, chicken thighs either in place of or to enhance the whole chickens.  Dark meat has quite a lot of flavor, so I like to add a few extra thighs in.  I don’t recommend using all white meat because it just doesn’t have the flavor to make a rich stock.  If you’re going to go to all the trouble to make homemade stock, you want it to have flavor. Do NOT use boneless, skinless breasts to make stock.  You may as well use water in your cooking instead.

 

The ingredients

 

2 whole chickens, trimmed of most fat, about 8 lbs. total (If the chicken has giblets, discard the liver or use it in another recipe. It will make your stock bitter and cloudy.)

-or-

1 whole chicken plus 3 -4 lbs. of chicken thighs

1 med. onion, peeled and chopped

2 med. carrots, peeled and chopped

1 stalk celery, cleaned and chopped

3 cloves garlic, peeled and left whole

1 Bouquet Garni (made with 4 sprigs thyme, 1 sprig rosemary, 2-3 bay leaves, and 1 tsp. whole black peppercorns; you can also include about 10-12 sprigs of parsley)

Cold water to cover (preferably filtered), plus extra if needed

 

Tied Bouquet Garni

The chopped vegetables and garlic

 

1.  Rinse the chicken (this will help get rid of some of the impurities as well as anything that might interfere with the flavor) and place it in a large stockpot. (You want one that will hold at least 8 quarts).  Add in the vegetables and bouquet garni.  Add just enough water to cover all the ingredients.

Everything in the pot.

 

2.  Place the stockpot on medium heat, cover, and slowly heat until you just see bubbles start to break the surface.  As soon as that happens, uncover the stock, turn the heat down to low and gently simmer.  This will help to make a clearer stock as well as give it a deeper flavor in the end.

3.  When you see foam rise to the top of the stock, take a spoon or very fine strainer and skim it off the top.  (The foam basically consists of any dirt , blood, or other impurities in the ingredients. Sounds gross. But, hey, it’s homemade.)

You can just start to see the foam rising to the top. The stock has been cooking for about 20 – 30 minutes at this point.

3.  Continue cooking at a low simmer and skimming off any foam for the next 3 hours.  Add cold water as needed to keep the ingredients covered at all times.

After about 45 minutes to 1 hour. Skim off the foam.

 

After skimming off the foam.

At approximately 1 1/2 hours.

At approximately 2 hours. At this point, you really won’t see any more foam.

Approximately 2 1/2 hours. Add more water if needed.

At 3 hours. Notice how the ingredients have cooked down.

 

4.  At this point you can do one of two things: either strain the stock and get it ready for storage; or, store the stock as is, overnight, in the refrigerator.  I tend to do the latter.

Ideally, you can quick-cool the stock by filling your sink full of ice, placing either the stockpot or a bowl with the strained stock in the ice.  Stir frequently until the stock is cooled to room temperature (replenish the melted ice as needed).  At that point, either store the stock overnight in your refrigerator or store it into serving- or recipe-sized portions and put it in the freezer.

However, things are not always ideal.  I will let the stock cool in the stockpot on the stove and then put it into the refrigerator to cool overnight. (Luckily, we have a refrigerator in our outbuilding so I have the room to store a full pot of stock.)

To make sure you cool down the stock safely without the use of a sink full of ice, pour or strain the stock into a large, clean bowl, cool the stock down to room temperature (70F) within 2 hours and then down to 40F within an additional four.  This will help to retard bacterial growth and make a safe stock.  (Invest in an instant-read thermometer.  They’re fairly inexpensive and will take a lot of guesswork out of cooking and checking the temperature on your foods.)

In France, and probably other parts of Europe, stock is left to sit on the stove overnight. I don’t recommend that.

Be sure to cover your stock if you store it overnight.

5.  If you let your stock sit overnight, you can remove any fat that has hardened on top before you store it.  However, if you’ve trimmed the chicken before you started, there shouldn’t be too much fat to worry about.  But, it’s up to you.

Stock after sitting overnight. I left the ingredients in to continue adding flavor. However, if you want to strain the stock before cooling, go ahead.

 

Ideally, you want your stock to look like, well, jelly.  Meat jelly.  This happens when you have extracted all possible flavor from the ingredients and you have cooked the collagen out of the bones and skin.  It’s what gives the stock a silky mouth feel and richness.

Mmm… Chicken Jelly.  Seriously, this is what you want to see.

 

6.  If you have already strained your stock and are ready for storage, go ahead and do that.  However, if you’ve store your stock overnight with the ingredients still in the broth, then, you’ll need to reheat the stock over low heat until it just becomes liquid again.

7.  Strain the stock.  I’ll remove many of the large pieces of chicken, vegetables, and the bouquet garni  from the stock before I start to pour out the liquid.  Saves on splashing messes.  Be sure to let the anything you remove from the stock drain thoroughly before discarding them.  Take a large colander and pour the stock through it into a large bowl or clean stockpot.

If you’ve done this right,  the chicken or vegetables won’t have any flavor once you’re done, so they can be discarded.

(Don’t give any of the chicken to your cats, no matter how persistently they beg.  The garlic & onion that’s infused through the stock and into the chicken will make them very ill.)

First straining of the stock.

Stock after the first straining.

 

Now, at this point, you can do one of three things:  a) stop straining and store the stock; b) you can cook it down a little further to concentrate the flavors as much or as little as you like; or, c) strain the stock a second time to clean it a little more.

I like a richer, clearer stock, so, I went with  (b) & (c).

Take a fine meshed strainer and line it with several layers of cheesecloth (available everywhere) or a flour sack towel.  Place the strainer over a bowl or stockpot and pour the stock through.  This will catch any last bits bone, meat, vegetable, etc. that wasn’t strained the first time around.

Cheesecloth-lined strainer.

Pouring the stock through the cheesecloth.

What’s left after the second straining. A little chicken, a lot of fat. I have literally seen chefs dip bread into this.

My finished stock. Yummy.

8.  I’ll measure my cooled stock into quart-sized zip bags.  It’s almost always the amount I’ll use and that way I’ll only have to take out what I need.  You can measure out however you like; but, I highly recommend portioning it out.

Stock ready for the freezer.

 

I’m reluctant to give you an exact amount this recipe will make because it’s a little different for everyone.  Because I cooked this down a bit, I ended up with 2 quarts of stock.  However, you could have up to 4 or 5, depending on the size stockpot you used and how much your stock was cooked down.

Always label and date your stock.  It will keep for up to 1 year in the freezer and 3 days in the refrigerator.

 

Enjoy!

 

p.s.  I’ll be teaching a class on chicken at Central Market, 4001 N. Lamar, in Austin on Friday, August 24.  If you’d like to see more lovely chicken recipes, sign up soon!

 

 

 

 



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