Showing posts with label Chicken and Rice Soup. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Chicken and Rice Soup. Show all posts

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Eat Twice - Quick and Easy, Vegetable-Chicken Congee-Style Rice Bowl

We've all been there. One hand holds the refrigerator door open as we stare into the brightly illuminated emptiness. We're hungry. We want something that doesn't take much time to prepare.

Where are all the great things to eat? What happened to the chicken and dumplings we made a few days ago? Oh, yeah, we finished that off at lunch. What about the brown sugar pork ribs that were so delicious? The crispy fried chicken? The roasted artichokes? Oh, yeah, all gone.

We could make a salad, but there's no Little Gem lettuce, no arugula, not even Italian parsley. We meant to go to the market. There just wasn't time.


But all is not lost. There's a container of steamed rice we brought home from a meal at the Chinese restaurant. There aren't any leafy greens in the vegetable bin, but there are a few things from last weekend's farmers market. A carrot, an onion, an ear of corn, a dozen English pea pods, a few mushrooms and a bunch of kale.

To make what I have in mind, we need homemade stock. A quick look in the freezer and, yes!, there's a container of chicken stock we made with the left over chicken from the Peruvian restaurant. Maybe our prospects aren't so bleak.

Eat Twice

The key to unlocking this deliciousness is repurposing or more specifically re-imagining what was served up for one meal that can be magically transformed into another.

One of my favorites is a richly flavored rice dish that uses freshly cooked rice or, in the spirit of Eat Twice, rice brought home after a meal at our favorite Vietnamese or Chinese restaurant.

The dish is a cousin of Asian congee, traditionally a soupy, pale white, savory morning bowl of boiled rice mixed with a protein. The version I want you to try is vibrant, colorful and richly layered with flavors and textures.

Use farmers market vegetables to give the dish a crisp freshness. Homemade stock braises the rice to create a comforting creaminess (without using cream).

I always use a mix of vegetables, especially shiitake mushrooms, onions, carrots, broccoli, corn kernels and English peas when they are available. For my pescatarian wife, I use homemade vegetable stock and add tofu or freshly deveined shrimp.

For me, I love a mix of cooked chicken and chopped up shumai, those wonderful pork filled dumplings served as a dim sum dish, or bbq pork sparerib meat cut off the bone and chopped into bite-sized pieces.


I also like using broccoli leaves. At the farmers market, many people peel off the leaves and leave them on the table. With the farmer's permission, I scoop them up, a treasure waiting to flavor my dishes. The stems should be cut into thin rounds. The leaves should be shredded. They are delicious.

In the summer, I use a medley of warm weather vegetables like corn and English peas. In colder weather, I rely on squash, sturdy leafy greens like kale and broccoli.


Vegetable and Chicken Congee

Convenient and versatile, left-over rice may feel dry to the touch but introduce a hot liquid and the grains plump up and return their former deliciousness.

Use any kind of rice you enjoy except wild rice.

If using freshly cooked rice, the time needed to cook the rice will be much less so add the rice to the simmering broth at the last minute so the grains do not absorb too much liquid and become soggy.

Use any vegetables you enjoy.

Homemade stock is preferable because it will be lower in sodium content and you can control the quality. And, it is less expensive than store bought canned or frozen stock. 

For a vegan version, use vegetables and vegetable broth.

For a spicy version, include 1 cup finely chopped kimchi.

Yield: 4

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 15-20 minutes

Total time: 30 minutes

Ingredients

4 cups cooked rice

4 cups stock, preferably homemade

2 cups cooked chicken meat, deboned, roughly chopped

6 leaves kale, washed, pat dried, stems removed, cut into a small pieces or 6 large broccoli leaves, stems finely sliced into rounds, leaves shredded

1 cup broccoli stems and florets, cut into small pieces

1 cup corn kernels (when available)

1 large carrot, washed, peeled, cut into corn kernel sized pieces

1/2 cup shelled English peas, washed (when available)

1 medium yellow onions, washed, peeled, root and stem ends removed, cut into corn kernel sized pieces

6 large shiitake mushrooms, washed, pat dried, tip of the stem removed, thinly sliced

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/4 teaspoon sea salt, ground fine

Pinch freshly ground black pepper

Pinch cayenne powder (optional)

Directions

In a large sauce pan, heat olive oil over medium flame. Add all vegetables. Sauté until lightly brown.

Add stock and chicken. Stir and simmer 10 minutes to combine flavors.


Season with sea salt, black pepper and cayenne (optional).

Add rice. Stir well to combine all ingredients.

Simmer. The cooking time will depend on the rice. If freshly cooked, the time is probably 5 minutes. If the rice needs reconstituting, probably 10 minutes.

Be careful not to overcook because the rice will become soggy.

Serve hot with enough liquid in the bowl that the rice is "wet".

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Eat Twice - How Repurposing Can Change Your Life - Rotisserie Chicken Becomes Chicken & Rice Soup

It all began with my grandmother.

I was probably seven when she gave me my first cooking lesson. Caroline lived in Manhattan in a small studio apartment on 110th Street near Amsterdam, around the corner from the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. She slept on a pull-out bed that folded back into a sofa. Her kitchen was the size of a small closet.

My grandmother was a good cook. Mainly she served classic Jewish dishes. Boiled chicken, matzo ball soup and gefilte fish were some of the dishes I remember her making. When she taught me how to cook, she emphasized thrift. Nothing should be wasted. Not a drop nor a scrap should be thrown into the trash.

When she made scrambled eggs, after I cracked open the egg, she taught me to run my finger around the inside of each half of the shell to remove all of the egg white. When I accompanied her to the grocery store, we would shop at several until she found the best price for whatever it was she needed.


Those lessens are ingrained into my cooking-DNA. Which brings me to lunch last week.

My friend Dean and I tried Pollo A La Brasa (764 S Western Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90005, (213) 387-1531), a well-known fast-food, rotisserie chicken, Peruvian cafe in K-Town (Koreatown west of Downtown LA). We ordered quarter chickens (a thigh and a leg) and chose as our two sides white rice and black beans. Each plate cost less than $8.00.

A giant rotisserie filled up the back wall of the cooking area. More than forty whole chickens secured on spits, rotated above a blazing wood fire. A thick sheet of glass to keep the smoke out of the dining room raised and lowered  when the cook removed a chicken.


When our food was ready, we carried the plates back to the table. The sweet aroma of the wood fire lingered on the charred skin, beautifully flavored with a mix of dry spices. We tore pieces of moist dark meat off the bone and mixed them into the rice and creamy beans. When we needed more spice, the giant squeeze bottles of green and red salsa on the table were nearby and each plate of food was accompanied by a small container of pico de gallo. The tiny bits of tomato and chilies added a fiery top flavor.

All of this is to say, lunch was fantastic. This was  our first time at Pollo A La Brasa. We will return!

But that isn't the point of this post. Not entirely.

The point is this. When we had finished our meal, Dean still had rice on his plate, along with the bones and skin of the chicken. If my grandmother Caroline had been with us, she would have said to Dean, "Take that home and make soup."

Since she wasn't there, I gave voice to her long-ago lesson. I asked for a take-away-box, scooped up what he hadn't eaten and we headed back to his house.

Just so you know, my friends and family are used to this behavior from me.

I take home sourdough bread from restaurants to make bread pudding, croutons and oven roasted bread crumbs. If we are invited to Thanksgiving at a friend's, I'll ask if I can take home the turkey carcass to make stock. If my wife, who is mostly a vegetarian, orders a roasted vegetable plate at a restaurant and she doesn't finish everything, I'll take that home to make a vegetable soup or stir fried vegetables with rice.

Dean always laughs at my "odd" behavior. This time I wanted to show him how to transform restaurant left-overs into a delicious second meal.

At his house I showed him all we needed was 4 cups of water, the chicken bones, two leaves of black kale, two scallions and one shiitake mushroom.

The bones simmered for ten minutes to create the stock. The vegetables sautéed in a small amount of olive oil in a second pot. We added the stock to the sautéed vegetables and simmered on a lower flame for ten more minutes. We added a pinch of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

To complete the dish, we placed a mound of the cooked white rice into the center of a bowl and poured in soup and vegetables. Dean tasted his soup. "Wow," he said, all smiles. "That's good."


And, there it was, a lesson in how to Eat Twice.

The restaurant had done half the cooking, providing steamed rice and smoke infused chicken that we turned into stock. We had added a few fresh ingredients and created an entirely new dish that borrowed flavors from the first but became it's own meal.

Easy. Frugal. Delicious. Grandmother Caroline would have been proud that her grandson learned her culinary lesson so well.

Chicken-Vegetable Soup with Rice

You can prepare this dish from scratch using raw chicken by first roasting the chicken pieces in a 350F oven for 45 minutes.  Allow the pieces to cool, then remove the meat and reserve to make chicken salad, pasta with chicken or shred and add to the soup and rice.



The cooked chicken you use can come from your own kitchen, in which case this is a strategy for repurposing left-overs.

The recipe is for one serving. If you have more bones or left over pieces of chicken, then the serving size will increase accordingly and the other ingredients should be increased proportionally as well.

Instead of kale leaves, you may use any greens you enjoy. A cup of washed spinach leaves, Savoy cabbage or Swiss chard leaves, roughly shredded would be good.

You can also add corn, carrots, celery, roasted tomatoes or grilled Japanese eggplant.

For this dish, we used the rice from our meal. We could as easily have used cooked pasta in the soup. 

Yield
1 serving

Time to prepare: 5 minutes

Time to cook: 20 minutes

Total time: 25 minutes

Ingredients

1 cup chicken bones and skin or bones from 1 thigh, 1 leg and 1 wing with skin

4 cups water

1 shiitake mushroom, washed, pat dried, stem end trimmed, thin sliced

2 scallions, root end trimmed off, washed

2 kale leaves, washed, center stalk removed and discarded, roughly shred the leaves

Pinch of sea salt to taste

Pinch of freshly ground black pepper to taste

Pinch of cayenne pepper to taste (optional)

1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil

Directions

Cut off the green part of the scallions. Slice the white part into 1/2" lengths, set aside. Roughly shred the green part.

Use two pots. In one combine the chicken bones and water. Bring water to a rapid boil on a high flame. Reduce the liquid by 1/3.

In the second pot while you are making the stock, heat olive oil over a medium flame and sauté the scallion green parts, shiitake mushroom slices and shredded kale until softened not browned. Set aside.

Place a small strainer over the pot with the sautéed vegetables and add the stock, capturing the bones and skin in the strainer. Pick through the bones for any bits of chicken meat. Add the meat to the stock. Discard the bones and skin.

Add any additional chicken meat if desired. Simmer the stock with vegetables 10 minutes. Taste and season as desired.

To serve, place a mound of cooked rice on the bottom of a bowl and pour in hot soup and vegetables.

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