Comfort Me with Chicken Soup

Sunday, September 20th, 2015

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It is that time of year when the weather begins to change. Here in the South it is a very slight change, but very much needed. The humidity lifts its damp cloak and the air becomes just a little more crisp. That ever so slight change has me craving stews, soups, and braised meats. My brain goes into overdrive and I start planning fall menus and anticipating the first harvest of root vegetables.

To jump into the fall season this week I share an all time, much loved comfort food, chicken & rice soup. This is a soup for beginners, one that I promise will stay in your recipe book and accumulate splashes and stains from heavy use. When I am sick this is what I want to eat more than anything and Ben is always there to make it for me.

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Chicken and Rice Soup

Yields around 3.5 qt.

1 teaspoon olive oil
3 ribs of celery, small diced
3 medium carrots, peeled and small diced
1 medium white onion, small diced
2 clove of peeled garlic, small diced
5 chicken thighs
1 bay leaf
2.5 qts chicken stock
2 cups cooked white rice
½ bunch of parsley, minced
2 tablespoon kosher salt

Begin by seasoning the chicken thighs with 2 teaspoons of the salt and set aside. Heat a mid sized soup pot over medium heat, when hot add in the olive oil. Add in the chicken, skin side down and cook until the skin is crispy and golden brown. Flip the chicken over and cook for two minutes longer. Remove chicken from the pot and place on a plate and set aside. Pour out the oil in the pot and discard. Place pot back on the stove and add in the celery, carrot, onion, and garlic. Cook over low heat until the vegetables have softened, about 5 minutes. Add in the chicken stock, bay leaf, and chicken thighs. Bring mixture to a boil, cover with a lid and reduce heat to low. Cook the chicken until tender, about 30 minutes. Remove the chicken from the pot and let cool slightly, pull the meat away from the bones, and chop into smaller pieces, discard the skin and bones. Add the chicken meat, cooked rice, parsley, and remaining salt to the pot, and stir together. Taste for seasoning. Grab a bowl of soup, a few crackers, and a fleece blanket. Put on your favorite movie and enjoy.

 

 

 

 

Chicken Tinga Tostada with Avocado, Radish, & Lime

Thursday, September 3rd, 2015

IMG_4087I am here to state my case for tostada’s. For those of of you that are unfamiliar   Wikipedia states

Tostada is a Spanish word meaning “toasted”. In Mexico and other parts of Latin America, it is the name of various local dishes which are toasted or use a toasted ingredient as the main base of their preparation. Even though the tortilla is generally fried, the meaning sticks with it.

It is basically a flat crispy taco. How can you go wrong with that? In my opinion you get more for your money, you can pile a tostada high and never worry about it ripping through the tortilla or what some call the “squeeze” when you take a bite of the taco and the fillings push through the other side and falls on the ground. Anything you put on a taco, you can arguably put on a tostada.

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Chicken Tinga is a dish original to Peubla, Mexico and is a perfect topping for tostadas. I piled my tostada this week with tinga, avocado, lettuce, radish, cheese, and lime juice. Have fun with it, try a veggie version with the black bean recipe or top it with the shrimp pico de gallo. Its perfect for a casual meal with friends… and don’t forget the tequila!

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Chicken Tinga

yields 3 cups or enough for 8 tostadas

6 chicken thighs
2 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½  teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
5 medium sized tomatoes
¼ of a white onion
3 garlic cloves
1 individual canned chipotle pepper, I like Embasa brand
1 dried avocado leaf, these can be found at most Mexican grocery stores
1 dried bay leaf
½ teaspoon dried Mexican oregano, crumbled
1 cup chicken stock

Begin by seasoning the chicken thighs with the salt, cumin, and black pepper. Set aside. Char the tomatoes and onion over a direct flame until the skin has become charred and burnt in some places and soft in the middle. Peel the skin off of the onion and place in a blender with the tomatoes. Lightly char the garlic and remove the skin, place in the blender along with the chipotle pepper. Puree the tomatoes, onion, garlic, and chipotle until smooth. You should have around 2 ½ cups of puree.

Place a medium sized pot over medium heat and add in 1 tablespoon olive oil. When oil is hot add in the chicken thighs, skin side down. Cook until the skin is crispy and golden brown, about 5 minutes. Flip them over and cook for another 3 minutes. Remove the chicken from the pot and place on a plate. Pour the tomato puree into the pot and fry in the oil. Be careful some the puree might splash up when it’s added to the hot oil. Cook this mixture while stirring frequently until it has darkened in color and thicken slightly, about 3 minutes. Add in the avocado leaf, bay leaf, and Mexican oregano, and chicken stock. Bring mixture to a simmer and add in the chicken thighs. Cover pot with a lid, adjust the heat to low, and simmer the chicken until it is very tender, about 35 minutes.

Remove chicken from pot and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Allow the tinga sauce to continue to simmer on low while you prepare the chicken. Remove the skin from the chicken and finely chop it, place back in the pot. Pull the meat off the chicken and shred with your fingers or a fork; place the meat back in the pot. Cook the tinga for another 10 minutes on low heat, remove the avocado and bay leaves and its ready to serve. This can be made ahead of time and kept in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Chicken Tinga Tostadas

8 corn tortillas
3 cups canola oil
2 cups shredded romaine lettuce
2 cups finely grated Mexican cheese
2 sliced avocados
4 thinly sliced radish
½ cup sour cream

In a medium saucepot heat the oil to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. When oil is ready add in 1 tortilla, using a large round spoon or ladle hold the tortilla under the oil to fry until it becomes golden brown and crispy, about 1 ½ minutes. Carefully remove the tortilla and place on a plate lined with paper towels. Repeat until all tortillas are fried.

To assemble, place about ½ cup of the chicken tinga on a tostada shell, add as much lettuce, cheese, avocado, radish, and sour cream as you care to have. Serve with tequilla and enjoy!