This soup was a part of my collective food memories well before I had even worked behind a stove. Both my Brazilian and Sicilian ancestors believed in the power of chicken and rice soup, so as a kid, if I was feeling punkish, this is what I got. If I was REALLY sick, I had this soup without the veggies and chicken – just broth and either rice or pastina (itty bitty italian pasta as small as grains of rice). To this day, if I need a comforting meal, I make a pot of this recipe for canja or some Italian Chicken Soup.
The beauty of this soup is that it’s 100% made from scratch, all with ingredients lying around the kitchen. Sure, it takes a little longer than cracking a can of Progresso, but the resulting soup is like a giant hug. Last time I checked, canned soups weren’t passing out hugs. I’ve detailed the recipe below as if you were making it without any leftovers, but know that I rarely actually make it this way. Typically, I save the bones and leftover meat from a Roast Chicken night and use that as the basis of my stock. Also, rather than simmering uncooked rice in the stock, I toss in a carton of leftover steamed white rice from Chinese/Thai/Vietnamese takeout. If you want to learn more about my perfect tricks for stock, take a look at this. Continue reading Chicken and Rice Soup (Canja)
A Roast You Can Boast About
I remember this stupid commercial – Perdue, I think – where this woman is freaking out about the prospect of roasting a chicken. Jim Perdue came to the rescue (“My lucky stars!”) with a pre-seasoned chicken in a bag. My real issue with the commercial was that it furthered the misconception that roasting a chicken is a daunting task. Making a savory and deliciously moist chicken takes a few key steps, but the process itself is forgiving, adaptable and completely reasonable. If you take the time to learn how to do it, roasting a whole chicken will quickly become a part of your recipe repertoire.
For me, all of the special techniques involve flavoring the meat and keeping it moist during cooking. One of the easiest ways to inject flavor into a chicken is to brine it before roasting. Think back to your days in Chemistry and lessons on osmosis – a porous object placed in a saltwater bath takes in the salt water and expells the unsalted water that is contained inside of it. Same with the chicken – if you let it hang out in your fridge in some salty water, the seasoning will literally go all the way into the chicken. Better than just salting the skin and ending up with tasteless chicken. If you want to make the chicken without planning ahead, skip the brining and just make sure to follow the other two tricks below. Continue reading Whole Roast Chicken with Mushrooms and Herbes de Provence
Ready to Shred
So rumor has it that chicken salad comes in a can? I had no idea – I’d never touched the stuff. Truly, my first taste of chicken salad came from the Corner Bakery in Tysons Corner. There, diced chicken, apples and celery (and supposedly currants and red onion according to their website – neither were memorable) are nestled between slices of pumpernickel studded with walnuts and raisins. It was insanely good, and that wasn’t even including their homemade kettle-cooked potato chips.
I haven’t been to the place in years, so I can’t speak for what the sandwich tastes like now. No matter, though, because over the years, I’ve just been making this super simple chicken salad, and it surpasses all expectations that I’ve had for that Corner Bakery sandwich. It’s the perfect marriage of sweet and savory, with the lovely zing of lemon and dijon to wake the whole thing up. Tender white meat chicken becomes moist and delicious in a fine poaching liquid of lemon and pepper. And if you can score a really good artisinal bread, it’s a treat and a half. Dennis and I ambled over to the SpaHa Bakery on 116th and Lexington, and were able to purchase some Mulitgrain Foccacia for him and a Cranberry Walnut Pullman Loaf for me. What a treat that place is! Between the excellent bread choices and the freshly prepped chicken salad goodness, Dennis put the sandwich in the Pantheon of his top 5 sandwiches of all time. I expect him to print out a certificate for this honor and frame it for me for Christmas. Continue reading Chicken Salad with Tarragon and Apples
For When You Want No Pork On Your Fork. I Mean Chopsticks
You know I love you guys. And I have no problem with your dietary restrictions – I still want to fill your belly. Which is why, if you are not fine with swine, I am posting this lovely recipe for chicken dumplings.
I call for no less than 4 types of pepper in these, so skip the chili oil and Sriracha (thai chili sauce) if you want it less piquant. If you aren’t down with meat of any kind, check out this recipe for Vegan Dumplings. Continue reading Spicy Chicken Potstickers