Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Rainy night, chess and... Chicken Soup!

Rainy nights call for cozy fireplaces, chess games and...CHICKEN SOUP! I like to add pasta or rice or egg noodles to the broth with maybe some matzoh balls, carrots, bok choy, mushrooms or scallions. This chicken broth is SO delicious and rich, it could even be served as a drink.
Too scattered and frazzled to write down detailed instructions, ingredients, etc., but here's my attempt. If you just use all the following ingredients, you will have the MOST AMAZING CHICKEN BROTH EVER.

You need:
Pot of water, 2 whole organic chickens (from Costco), 8 smashed garlic cloves, 1 big onion (quartered), 4 star anise whole, 9 whole cloves, chunk of ginger (cut into 1 inch pieces), a bunch of cilantro stalks, rock sugar, sea salt, bunch of peppercorns (optional: add 2-3T fish sauce to super flavor).

(1) Sear/broil/char the ginger and onion until they get dark and soft.
(2) Using a big cleaver, chop up the chicken into smaller (2-3") pieces, aiming at the bones - we want lots of exposed marrow. Yes, this is totally barbaric. (*If you plan to serve the soup with chicken meat, cut off a section of the chicken breast and put aside.)
(3) Fill up a stockpot with water, wait for it to boil, add the chicken. After about 5 minutes, gross foam will appear/rise to the surface. Use a ladle to scoop all of it out (yuck!).
(4) Add the garlic, charred onion and ginger, star anise, cloves, cilantro, sugar, salt, pepper (and fish sauce if you choose to).
(5) Simmer for 2-4 hours, skimming off more foamy stuff every 15 minutes or when it shows up.
Fresh ginger root is always best. I LOVE raw ginger and like to add fine julienned ginger to my soup right before eating.

Raw chicken - unappetizing, I know, but the results are worth it, I promise. It is critical that you whack and aim for the bones when you chop it up. The more marrow showing, the richer the broth, the more intense the flavor. So, cut for lots of red marrow! (Do you own a big cleaver or Chinese butcher knife? If not, you should get one.)
We want a clear broth, so use a ladle to skim off all the gross foam that will surface. Check every 15 minutes or so. (Ew, I know...)
After 4 hours of boiling and occasional skimming, strain the broth and throw out all the solids (2 whole chickens worth, wow).
Then add your favorite cooked noodles, chicken, vegetables, cilantro, scallion, pepper, etc., and serve. Delicious! Below was what was left of that batch of stock. Keep it in the fridge if you plan on making soup in the next couple of days. Otherwise, store in freezer-safe containers in the freezer for use in a few weeks.

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