Giving the bird to the bitterly cold weather
Tonight is a good night to sit down to a steaming bowl of homemade chicken soup. Our anomalous weather patterns are torturing us with 18 degree mornings followed by rain and wind at night. It makes no sense.
Officially at the mid-point of January we have yet to see snow, much to my chagrin but not to that of many others, so I’ll leave it right there.
Suffice it to say that, as a teacher and a parent, I love snow days for my kids’ sakes. Who doesn’t love to see the joy on their faces when the phone rings at 5:30 in the morning? They will sleep in on any other morning, but that phone call has the kids out of their beds and as active as bees in a shaken hive. They are ready for action.
But no, there is no chance of that happening any time soon, so the upturns and downswings in the mercury will leave us wondering what is in store next week and the one after.
But one thing is certain; chilly or downright cold, soup is a welcome friend as it soothes us to our very core. And the way that I made it today it could not have been any easier, short of opening a can and throwing it in the microwave.
I rarely write about the slow-cooker pots, since in many ways I am opposed to them. While I try to adhere to the concept of slow cooking and fresh foods, it is evident that many cooking techniques are missing from throwing product in the slow cooker and leaving for work.
Where’s the sear? Where is the love? Where are the layers of flavor that marry at the end to give us this magical dish?
I can tell you where they were today; they were in the felled tree that my son and I were chopping into firewood while the Misses and a daughter removed the carpeting, padding and staples from the stairs.
In between the chopping and removing the Christmas decorations (yes, I made it to January 15, a personal record) I finished getting a certification needed for a class that I teach. It’s all in a day’s work.
Suffice it to say that we had a busy, busy weekend and slow-pot soup won the coin toss.
Finishing the soup off with the simplest of garnishes, a sweet and savory roasted butternut squash, I was pleased realizing that bliss filled the room; even the children ate the soup. It was a good meal.
There are some merits to one-pot cooking; fuel efficiency, reduction of carbon footprint, maximum flavor and moisture retention and of course ease.
Of course, you do forfeit the added flavor of the sear on the meat and the various tricks of which I have written over the course of the last seven years, but you will not be disappointed, especially when your joints and bones ache from the work and cold.
This is such a bare bones recipe that you can go anywhere with it. Enjoy it and don’t worry. You can employ your culinary brilliance as you see fit, but in reality this recipe is simple for a reason. It fits a part of our lives in which not everything has to be difficult, so just relax and get warm.
Enjoy the rain and the wind and with any luck, we will see that snow storm come across the plains and throw us for a loop. Then we’ll have another reason to break out the slow cooker again, only next time it won’t be so dusty.
use ½ a squash per guest
½ acorn squash per person
EV olive oil as needed
Salt & Pepper as needed
- Cut the squash in half, leaving the skin on
- With a spoon, scrape out the seeds and ‘guts’ and discard
- Brush the cut surface with oil, and season
- Roast in an oven (375F if convection and 400F if conventional) until the flesh is fork tender
- Allow to slack for a few minutes and serve
Slow Pot Chicken & Bean Soup
2.5# split chicken breast, bone in/skin on
½ ea. White onion, fine diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 ea. Shallot, fine diced
½ ea. Carrot, fine diced
½ qt. Chicken stock
2 c. Cannellini beans, reconstituted or canned
Salt & Pepper to taste
3 c. Picked kale, no stems
1 can Diced tomatoes (hey, it’s winter!)
- I know it goes against every tenet of mine to use a slow cooking pot, but so be it. Put everything except the salt, kale and tomatoes in a slow pot
- Set it and walk away for about 3-4 hours, or until the chicken will shred with little effort but is not mushy
- Carefully remove the chicken and set aside to cool
- When cool enough to handle, remove the skin, bones and any unsavory bits and pull the chicken into large chunks and place in the soup
- Add the tomatoes and the kale and cook for another 20 minutes
- Serve with fresh bread and some chunks of that beautifully roasted squash from the recipe above. The sweet notes of the squash counter the savory soup very well