Chicken Soup Noodle For What Ails You

Chicken Soup Noodle ©2014 La Domestique

It’s that time of year. As winter draws to an end and spring threatens to break through, everyone seems to be suffering from a cough or a sniffle. I made it all winter without getting sick, and then BAM! It hit me like a freight train: a full blown head cold. Miserable. You know how it goes– the first day I felt a bit off, a bit tired, and just couldn’t seem to get warm. Day 2 began with a scratchy throat and ended with the chills. After a fitful sleep I awoke on day 3 unable to breathe, my head completely blocked up and my nose running like a faucet. It was over, I surrendered, waving a white tissue to let the enemy know I had no fight left in me. The husband kindly banished me to the couch and built a roaring fire in the hearth, declaring me officially out of commission until further notice.

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Roast Chicken Legs with Mushroom Sauce

Roast Chicken Legs with Mushroom Sauce (c)2013 La Domestique

These photographs of Roast Chicken Legs with Mushroom Sauce were part of the series from my last post featuring Roasted Carrot Soup. I photographed this series  for a client and none of the recipes are my own. I cannot share the recipes here, but I thought you might enjoy the photos and a few tidbits I learned during the project. I don’t think I’ve ever bought chicken legs (meaning thigh and drumstick all in one piece), and I was pleasantly surprised by them. First, chicken legs are cheap – even cheaper per pound than buying a whole bird. Second, there’s a lot of meat on those bones. Third, the meat is quite tasty.

For this recipe, the chicken legs were simply roasted in a pan with onion wedges, a drizzle of oil, and a sprinkling of salt and pepper.  Once cooked through and golden brown, I set the chicken and onions aside and made a quick pan sauce. Sautéed onions and mushrooms simmered in a mixture of pan juices, red wine, milk, and flour until the sauce thickened. While the sauce simmered my husband and I nibbled at the roast onion wedges, which were the best part of the dish! Following the recipe, I served the roast chicken on a platter with a generous handful of fresh parsley and mushroom sauce on the side. After cooking this recipe, I think I’ll be using chicken legs more often, especially in braised or stewed dishes that call for a whole bird broken down into 8 pieces.

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Spring Crudités Platter with Aioli

Inspired by the “Poached Chicken Breast and Spring Vegetable Salad” in Martha Stewart’s Cooking School, I set out to make my own spring crudités platter. This would be a lovely way to entertain alfresco in the garden for Saturday lunch. Sparkling wine pairs nicely with this simple but elegant fare. I blanched the vegetables in boiling hot water and then immersed them in ice to make sure the color was preserved and the texture was still crisp. You could serve a herb vinaigrette but I went with a garlic aioli recipe from Chez Panisse Vegetables for dipping. Soft boiled eggs rounded out the feast- also good for dipping bread or veg into.

When poaching chicken, it’s best to leave the meat on the bone for more succulence and flavor. The chicken should cook gently at what Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall calls the “tremulous simmer”; bubbles occasionally breaking at the surface. The comforting aroma coming from the kitchen is truly magical. How can it be so good? I don’t know . . . it just is.

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Storyboard: Spring Chicken

Chicken StoryBoard (c) 2011 LaDomestique.com

The Whole Bird

I believe in the value of the whole bird. It’s cheaper to purchase a whole chicken and break it down, making use of the legs, breast meat, thighs, wings, and eventually the bones for stock. Each part of the bird is delicious in it’s own way. Chicken thighs are great for braising, wings are crispy and lip-smacking good roasted, bone in chicken breast is moist and succulent when poached, and glazed drumsticks are great for gnawing on. When buying chicken, I try to purchase from local farms or small scale farmers and I avoid poultry from intensive farming. It’s important to make an informed decision when you spend your money at the grocery store. You can do this not only by reading the fine print and asking questions about your poultry products, but also by allowing taste to be your guide. Each week, try a bird from a different producer. Was one more succulent and meaty than the other? Blind acceptance is how intensive farming tactics and inferior products survive in our supermarkets.

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Cook in the Moment: Chicken Garden Soup

Chicken Garlic Soup (c) 2011 LaDomestique.com

It all started with “Green Garlic Soup” from Chez Panisse Vegetables, then it morphed into “Chicken Garden Soup”. I like to call this intuitive cooking- allowing a recipe to come to life in your kitchen. While the green garlic, onion, and potato sizzled in butter on the stove, I thought of the micro-greens I collected from my garden yesterday. The tiny radishes and salad leaves would add a pop of color to this golden soup. I could taste their bitter bite against the full bodied chicken broth and starchy potatoes. On a whim I tossed a bit of fresh thyme into the pot.  As the soup simmered the kitchen filled with an inviting aroma of herbs and garlic and chicken stock. At this point I remembered the leftover roast chicken in the fridge from last night and tossed it into the pot. I dipped in my spoon and tasted . . . the soup needed something. Cream? No, cream would dull the delicate spring flavors. A handful of grated Parmesan would add the body and flavor I was looking for. The soup was ready. I pulled out two shallow bowls and placed a handful of micro-greens in each one, ladling the soup over top. “Chicken Garden Soup” was good and satisfying. Was it because I made the stock from scratch? Maybe it was the micro-greens, the first harvest from my little garden plot. As we slurped up the soup at our kitchen table, the husband tried to figure it out, but never could pinpoint exactly what made the soup so tasty. I think I know the answer: when you give yourself time to prepare a meal and enjoy the journey, magic happens in the kitchen. The love comes through in your cooking.

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