The never fail Chicken everything recipe…..

2 Nov

There is something about the crispness of cool fall days that forces me to make Chicken Soup, Chicken and Rice, Chicken and Noodles, Chicken and Dumplings….the list goes on and on. I think it’s the whole idea of having something yummy simmering on the stove.

It’s so simple and quick. I can do it in my sleep.

The key to making any good “chicken and…” recipe is starting out with lots of flavor. You can use this basic process to start any great chicken soup.

You need to gather onion, celery, carrots, garlic, bay leaves, basil, salt and pepper. This combination will create the flavor that drives your dish.

Chop the onion, celery and carrots. (I used one onion, four celery stalks and three carrots.)  Hang onto the garlic, we’ll use it in just a bit. Your cutting doesn’t have to be pretty. It can be chunky. It can be not chunky. Whatever you like. I like fairly large chunks that aren’t very uniform. I call it “rustic.” Which is a french word for “lazy.”

Take a large stock pot, heavy bottom pot or dutch oven and put it over medium heat. Add a generous amount of butter. I’d say I have two Tablespoons here.

You can also use olive oil or just plain vegetable oil. I’m just a butter sort of girl. If I have fewer than eight sticks of real cream butter in my fridge, I start to panic.

Add the vegetables and season with salt, pepper and basil. This isn’t the finished flavoring for your dish, but you need to add a bit of salt in order to draw the flavor juices out of the onions and celery. The basil and pepper helps to add a layer of flavor. Believe me, the carrots are going to soak up the flavor. If you are a stickler for measurements, I added about two Tablespoons of salt, a Tablespoon of basil and a teaspoon of freshly ground pepper.

Stir it all together and let it cook until the onions are tender. Give it a quick stir every few minutes so that all the vegetables have their turn in the hot seat.

This is what it looks like when the veg’s are getting tender. The smell will be amazing. People will start wondering in the kitchen just to see what you are doing. Small children will stand there and look up at you with big eyes until you give them a cookie to go away!

Place chicken thighs on top of the vegetables. I used five. I could have used three. I probably could have used seven. But five seemed to be the right amount for me. Just make a decision and go with it. In my opinion, a lot of cooking relies on gut instinct. Thighs give the most flavor to chicken soup. I use thighs and legs as a base for all my chicken stock.

Realize at this point that you should have washed the dishes in the sink before beginning this process. Because now you are left with a hot pot full of food and need to get water in it. So take a few minutes to dig around and find a pitcher. Fill it with water and pour water over the chicken until it covers the chicken by about 2 to 3 inches.

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Throw in two bay leaves and add your garlic. If you are making the same amount of soup I am here, you will need approximately two of the larger cloves from the outside of the bulb. Do not use five like I have pictured here. Unless you are sick and really need the garlic to work homeopathic wonders on you. I have a cold. That’s why I used so much garlic. That, and I got carried away. Sometimes, that happens.

Put a lid on the pot and let it gently simmer. Don’t full boil it, just find a spot where things are nice and gently bubbly. The amount of time it takes to cook the chicken will vary depending on how much chicken, the size of the pot, the size of the chicken and etc. For these thighs, we are talking less than an hour. A full chicken would take approximately an hour.  Use a meat thermometer to check the chicken to see if it’s done, if you are worried about it. The temperature should be at 170 degrees F.

Remove the chicken and garlic from the pot and set it aside to cool. If you really love garlic, you can take the bulb of garlic and gently squeeze it over the pot. The inside of the garlic will come out as a soft paste. Stir this into the stock. Yummy.

Now remove the chicken from the bones. This is messy, it is slimy and it will get under your fingernails. I will guarantee that you will be right in the middle of it when your children need something very badly, your nose itches or the phone rings. It is just how the universe works.

Put your chicken to the side as you decide what to make with your chicken stock.

At this point, you have a lot of options. You can freeze the chicken soup (stock) for use later and use the chicken for chicken salad.  Or go ahead and make a big pot of Chicken something….noodles, tortellini, alphabet-shaped pasta — the options are limitless! You can add rice to the stock and make chicken and rice. Just remember that white rice takes two cups liquid to one part rice. If you have two cups of stock and one cup of rice, you aren’t going to have any liquid left over. Make sense? If you have three cups stock and one cup rice, you will have a little liquid left. Six cups of stock and one cup of rice and you have a lot of soup for the rice to swim in. Keep in mind that noodles and pasta won’t soak up as much liquid, but they will still absorb some. Especially after the soup sits in the fridge overnight.

Once the rice, noodles or pasta are finished cooking, season the soup with salt and pepper. If you salt it prior to cooking the rice or pasta, you may end up with something way too salty. This is because the water evaporates or is absorbed. Less water, but the same amount of salt, equals too salty.

Now add the de-boned chicken back to the pot and enjoy!

My favorite thing to make is Chicken with Butter Dumplings. I’ll share the recipe with you tomorrow. It is a wonderful twist on dumplings that is quick, easy and not messy!

And it adds butter. Everything is better with butter.

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5 Responses to “The never fail Chicken everything recipe…..”

  1. Christina November 2, 2010 at 11:17 am #

    What a helpful post! I just made a chicken stew recently and I want to start making more warm and comforting chicken dishes. Your ideas are great! Can’t wait to see the dumpling recipe.

  2. Ally November 2, 2010 at 3:09 pm #

    I love this… and now I’m hungry, thank you. I think I’m making Chicken and something for dinner tomorrow…

  3. Teresa November 2, 2010 at 8:29 pm #

    Your chicken dish options are awesome. It’s nice how one well done recipe can leave you with so many other recipe choices. I’m visiting from SITS. Thanks for sharing!

  4. c.c. November 3, 2010 at 10:50 am #

    hi! thanks for reading picky and leaving it some love! i’m glad you liked the post. :]

    that’s a pretty neat saying. thanks for sharing it with me.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Cocklebur Junction Butter Dumplings « The Surprise Lily - November 3, 2010

    […] start with your Chicken stock. I generally don’t add my meat back into the soup until the dumplings are finished. For 4 […]

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