Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Chicken in my Pot

I know, I know...where the hell have I been the last month and a half??  It'd be a lie to say I was out being Superwoman or even so swamped with every day life that I didn't have a chance to post.  What really caused my absence was my inability to take photographs either a) because I was cooking dinner at midnight, or b) because I have some seriously bad juju when it comes to actually photographing my foodstuffs during daylight hours.  I know I've lamented this last point more times than I can count, but dammit man, I could have robotic arms perched on a stable surface and STILL manage to have all the pictures turn out blurry.  It's like I have Parkinson's, but only in my arms.  I swear, I'm buying a tripod as soon as I have an extra $20 burning a hole in my pocket.

About the dinner at midnight thing, my sleep cycle is soooo distorted at the moment that I truly am sleeping during the daytime like I worked 3rd shift somewhere.  And while I have had one or two night time pictures turn out acceptable, 99% don't.  Coupled with the shaking-like-a-leaf-in-a-hurricane arms I have, none of the pictures that I did attempt turned out.  I can't even imagine if I were doing this before the digital camera age.


Needless to say, I have been cooking, and I have been cooking well.  From the best ribs I've ever made to bundt cakes that melt in your mouth, it has been gastronomic bliss.  There were a couple of missteps (like the Millionaire's Shortbread that would have been divine had I followed my instincts and not baked the shortbread for as long a time as the recipe called for) and fumbles, but overall, good times with food here.

One of the things in the "absolutely completely shot it out of the park" category was the humble chicken soup you see pictured above.  I think the kids said "omg mom, this the best chicken soup ever" every time they took a bite.  It was inspired by a recipe Karina and I found at Beyond Kimchee.  It looked so good and sounded even better that we adapted it for what we had on hand.  Thankfully I wrote down what I did so that I'll be able to make it again.

Best Chicken Soup
12-16 cups stock
1 whole 3 1/2 pound chicken
1 cup thinly sliced carrots (about two medium)
2 cups shredded cabbage
3-4 cups frozen corn 
1 16 ounce package frozen chopped collard greens
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons olive oil
kosher salt, to taste

Place chicken in an 8 quart stock pot and cover with stock until just submerged.  Cover loosely with a lid and simmer chicken over medium heat for approximately 1 hour.  You want your bird tender, but not disintegrated.  Remove whole, cooked chicken to a bowl and place in the refrigerator until cool enough to handle.  Strain the stock into a clean pot and bring to a low boil.  Add in carrots, cabbage, corn and collard greens.  While vegetables are heating and getting al dente, heat the olive oil in a small sauce pan.  Saute the onion and garlic until translucent and softened.  Stir into the soup.  Remove the meat from the cooled chicken and shred with your fingers into bite sized pieces.  Add chicken to the soup and heat through.  Taste for seasoning and add if needed.  I was very fortunate and only needed 1 tablespoon of kosher salt for the entire pot.  I used homemade stock that had been lightly seasoned when it was made, so that may have made a difference, not to mention the fact that the chicken itself was cooked in the stock, adding even more flavor to an already flavorful base.

Serve with crusty bread while hot off the stove.