Pork and Pickles

These are a few of my favorite things


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Chicken Noodle Soup with Homemade Noodles

I pulled out my trusty copy of Joy of Cooking today and nearly tore the cover off! It’s sporting a lovely stripe of duct tape now, while I figure out if there’s a better long-term solution for holding it together.

While I had it out, I figured I’d make egg noodles for tonight’s dinner. I frequently buy a rotisserie chicken on Tuesdays, since I have it in my head that it’s cheaper on Tuesdays. I don’t think it is, but whatever. It makes for an easy dinner. Since I had the noodles and chicken in mind, it only made sense to make my daughter’s favorite dinner.

To start, you take all-purpose flour, salt, and butter and pulse them in the food processor a bit. Then add whole eggs and egg yolks and run the processor until everything comes together. Knead by hand a couple times to bring it together, then form it into a disc and wrap in plastic. Put it in the fridge for a few hours to let the flour hydrate and let the gluten relax.

What my dough looked like after it's trip through the food processor.

What my dough looked like after its trip through the food processor.

About 40 minutes before you’re planning to eat, heat a tablespoon or so of butter and the same amount of olive oil in a large Dutch oven. Add diced onion, celery, and carrots, and minced garlic, along with a pinch of salt, and sweat until onions are translucent. Add chicken stock to cover everything (supplementing with water if you run out), bring to a simmer, and cook until the carrots are mostly tender.

While the soup is simmering, start rolling out the noodles. Divide the dough into thirds and roll out on a liberally floured surface until it’s about 1/16″ thick. You’ll notice that it starts to spring back at some point, so fold the piece of dough in thirds and set aside while you roll out the other pieces of dough. You can ABSOLUTELY do this part with a pasta machine, but I didn’t feel like getting mine out and dealing with the hassle of finding a good place to clamp it down. And I feel like I’ve finally gotten the hang of rolling out dough after the approximately 923847 batches of sugar cookies I made for Christmas, so this was fun. Once you’ve rolled out all of the dough pieces, go back to the first one and roll it out a bit more. Cut it into pieces the desired length of your noodles, then stack them and slice to the desired width. You’ll want about 1/3 of the noodles for a 5/6 serving pot of soup, and you can freeze what you don’t use.

2/3 of the noodles, laid onto a pan for freezing.

2/3 of the noodles, laid onto a pan for freezing.

Once the carrots are tender, add your cooked chicken to the pot and check for seasoning. Bring to a boil and add the noodles, then simmer 3-4 minutes until they’re al dente. Finish with chopped parsley, if you’ve got it, and serve.

Ready to NOM.

Ready to NOM.

Leftovers, if you have them, reheat well.

Egg Noodles, from Joy of Cooking

  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 TB + 1 tsp unsalted butter, cut into tiny pieces
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 large egg yolks

Combine flour, salt, and butter in food processor and pulse to combine. Add eggs and yolks and process until dough forms. Remove from food processor and knead lightly to bring dough together, then form into a disc and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate at least one hour to allow gluten to relax.

Cut dough into thirds and roll out with plenty of flour, either by hand or in a pasta machine, until desired thickness. Cut to desired length and width.

Chicken Noodle Soup 

  • 1 TB butter
  • 1 TB olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 carrots, quartered lengthwise and cut into 1/4″ slices
  • 2 stalks celery, halved lengthwise and cut into 1/4″ slices
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 cups chicken stock, homemade or commercially produced
  • 1/3 recipe egg noodles, above, or commercially produced egg noodles (dry noodles will take longer to cook)
  • 1-2 cups cooked chicken
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • parsley

Sweat vegetables in fat with a pinch of salt until onions are translucent. Add stock, plus water as needed to cover ingredients. Bring to simmer and cook until carrots are tender. Season to taste and add chicken, then bring to a boil and add noodles. Cook until tender, 3-4 minutes for fresh noodles or following package directions for commercial noodles. Finish with minced parsley and serve.


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Beefy Borscht

There’s something about the middle of November that just screams “make soup EVERY DAY!”, and who am I to deny an urge like that? I had some stew meat thawed and awaiting inspiration, along with beets, cabbage, and – oh hey – some beef marrowbones in the freezer. CLEARLY it was time to make borscht. Now, I’ve only actually had chunky (Russian-style) borscht once, and I wasn’t eating beef at the time, so this is my interpretation of it with some help from my favorite cookbook ever, The Joy of Cooking.

To start, I had to turn those bones into broth, which I hadn’t done since cooking school. Everything I read said to just put bones in water at first, since they throw off so much scum. They were NOT kidding. The only thing I wish I’d done differently was to have also put the stew meat in with the bones – I added them later, with the veggies, and ended up with a lot of gunk in the broth that I just couldn’t scoop out. Oops.

Not clear and pretty like I wanted, sadly.

So you simmer the bones/meat until they stop throwing off scum (which you need to scoop out with a skimmer of some sort), then you add your vegetables. I threw in an onion, unpeeled and cut into eighths, a couple chopped carrots, a couple celery ribs, a couple garlic cloves, parsley, peppercorns, bay, clove, thyme. Keep this at a bare simmer for as long as you can – the longer you cook it, the more collagen dissolves from the meat and bones, plus there are a lot of vitamins and minerals that leach out of the bones. Strain it and chill it if you’re not going to use it right away. Pick the meat out from your pile of bones and spent veggies and reserve it for the soup.

When you’re ready to make the borscht, you’ll want to gather up the following: beets, cabbage, carrots, potatoes, onion, garlic, canned tomatoes, tomato paste. Start by boiling the beets until they’re tender, at which point you can just slip the skins off. Set them aside to cool. Melt some fat (butter’s good, and I augmented it with some of the fat skimmed from the stock) in your biggest soup pot and throw in a sliced onion. Cook that for a bit and add sliced garlic, then a couple tablespoons of tomato paste. Cook that for a bit to concentrate the flavor, then throw in chopped cabbage, potatoes, and carrots. Saute for a couple minutes, adding a good bit of salt, then add your broth and a can (or jar, if you’ve canned your own) of whole tomatoes with juice. Bring it up to a boil and then simmer until the potatoes and carrots are tender. At that point, cut up your cooked beets and toss them in, along with the meat reserved from the broth. You might need to add extra water to thin out the soup (I did!) – you want this to be fairly brothy.

This really needed more water added to it, but I was nearly out of room in the pot!

Traditionally, borscht is served with sour cream and fresh dill. I have creme fraiche (SUPER DUPER EASY TO MAKE YOUR OWN!) and dried dill – they certainly made for a more-than-passable garnish for the soup.

All set to eat!

I just ate breakfast and now I’m hungry again. I think I know what’s for lunch!

Borscht

  • 2 quarts beef broth, either homemade or purchased (chicken stock is fine, too)
  • 2 TB butter or other fat
  • 1 medium onion, halved and sliced into 1/8″ pieces
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 2 TB tomato paste
  • 1/4 head cabbage, sliced thinly
  • 2 carrots, halved lengthwise and cut into 1/2″ chunks
  • 2 medium potatoes (yukon gold or red are good choices here), halved and cut into 1/2″ pieces
  • 1 28oz can whole tomatoes in juice
  • 3 medium beets, boiled, peeled, and sliced into 1/4″ chunks
  • 1-2 cups cooked beef (simmer stew meat in commercial broth until tender before starting the soup if you don’t make your own stock)
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • sour cream or creme fraiche and fresh or dried dill fronds for garnish

Melt butter/fat in a large pot and saute sliced onion until softened. Add sliced garlic and cook until fragrant. Add tomato paste and stir for a couple minutes, until slightly darkened. Add sliced cabbage, carrots, and potatoes, then tomatoes (break them up with your hands first) and broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until potatoes and carrots are barely tender. Add cooked beets and beef and simmer 15 minutes to heat through and meld flavors. Finish with lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste.

Serve, garnishing with sour cream/creme fraiche and dill.


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Celeriac; or what the heck is this hideous vegetable in my CSA box?

This week at our CSA drop site, someone had abandoned the celeriac (also called celery root) from their box. I snatched them up with this celery root and leek soup in mind, but a couple years ago I’d have been the person abandoning their produce. I mean, look at them – they’re *hideous*!

So ugly but so delicious!

And what is this stuff, anyhow? As you can guess by the name, it’s part of a celery plant, but a variety that’s been bred to form these big roots instead of a large bunch of stalks. They do form stalks (you can see remnants of them on the larger celeriac above) but they’re not particularly edible. To prepare it, you need to trim top and bottom and either peel it with a vegetable peeler or with a knife. I’ve got this OXO Good Grips peeler that I’ve probably had for 15 years, and it does a great job with thick peels like we’re dealing with here. I’ll sometimes use a paring knife or chef’s knife for the job, too.

Eek, it’s naked!

At this point you can cut it up however you like – dice, julienne, shred… But for this recipe we’re going to need it cut into 1/2″ dice. Toss the pieces into acidulated water to prevent browning, then let it sit while you deal with the rest of your ingredients.

Dice up a few slices of bacon and cook them over low heat to render the fat. While that’s cooking, slice up 2-3 leeks and throw them into a bowl of cold water to soak off the dirt that’s undoubtedly lurking between the leaves. Once the bacon’s nice and crisp, remove it from the pan and set it aside for later. Don’t throw out that fat, though! You should have a couple tablespoons of bacon grease in your pan – if you don’t, add a bit of lard or olive oil. Drain the leeks thoroughly and toss them into the pan, stirring to coat with fat. Let that cook on low heat for 10 minutes or so, until the leeks have wilted and are becoming soft.

Leeks cooking in bacon fat – let me assure you, this smells *heavenly*!

At this point, we’re ready to add the celeriac cubes – drain the water off and toss them in. Cook this for a couple minutes, then add 2 cups of chicken stock (substitute water or vegetable stock if you need to) and 3 cups of water. Add a bit of salt and a few grinds of pepper, too. Cover the pot and bring it up to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Let it cook until the celeriac is nice and tender, maybe 30 minutes or so.

Double, double, toil and trouble

Once the celeriac is tender, it’s time to puree the soup! I usually use my handy dandy immersion blender for this (a wedding gift I’m still using 14 years later!) but it wasn’t cutting it today, so I pulled out the blender and pureed the soup in two batches. Once it was nice and silky smooth, I poured it back into the pot and added half and half, lemon juice, salt, and pepper.

The original recipe uses the bacon and some julienned apple for a garnish, but I just end up throwing them into the pot with the soup – I don’t have patience for fiddly presentations.

Dinner!

Along with the soup, I had one of the cheddar and beet green biscuits from this morning’s breakfast (recipe here). Quite the satisfying dinner!

Celery Root and Leek Soup with Bacon and Apple
  • 3 slices bacon, diced
  • 2 leeks, chopped and soaked in cold water to remove dirt
  • 1.5# celery root, peeled and cut into 1/2″ dice
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 granny smith apple, julienned
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 cup half and half
  • salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot, cook bacon over low heat until bacon is crispy and the fat has rendered. Remove bacon pieces with a slotted spoon and reserve. Drain leeks and add to the pan with the rendered bacon fat. Saute until wilted, about 10 minutes, then add the diced celeriac. Saute 2 minutes and add stock and water. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to simmer, then cook until celeriac is tender (about 30 minutes). Puree, then add half and half, lemon juice, and salt and pepper. Place julienned apple and bacon pieces in bowls and top with soup, then chow down.


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Chicken Stock

I’m recovering from lots of tasty beer and fun at yesterday’s Autumn Brew Review, so today started with a hearty breakfast. A hash of red and green peppers, potatoes, and spinach, with bacon and scrambled eggs. And coffee, naturally. Now that I’m mostly over this cold I can actually *taste* the coffee again. It’s nice.

Breakfast of champions. Or at least of the sunburned and slightly hung over.

Breakfast conversation turned to soups and stock and I remembered the packages of chicken parts and bones in the freezer and my dwindling supply of frozen chicken stock. Yes! That’s the project for today.

Yep. Chicken feet.

The co-ops get packages of chicken backs, necks, and feet from their poultry suppliers, which they sell fairly cheaply (the backs & necks were $1.99/lb and the feet were $2.89/lb). I like to pick up a package from time to time and save them for stock. I also freeze mushroom and parsley stems and carrot and celery trimmings when I remember. All the frozen chicken parts and vegetable trimmings go into the pot, along with a few ribs of celery, a couple carrots, and a couple of onions. No need to be fussy with this step – just chop the carrots and celery into 1-2″ pieces and cut the onions into eighths. I don’t even bother peeling them when they’re organic – the peels add a nice bit of color to the stock, plus I’m sure there are vitamins and minerals that leach out of them. More nutrition is always good!

Bouquet garni, aka herbs and spices.

Next you add the bouquet garni, which is a fancy term for herbs and spices. I snipped some of the parsley and thyme off my plants and added bay leaves, peppercorns, and a couple whole cloves. One of the things I remember from the first quarter of cooking school, the part where they teach you all the basics, is the mnemonic the chef taught us to remember the bouquet garni ingredients: Peppy Pupils Better Cooks Tomorrow. PPBCT. Parsley, Peppercorns, Bay, Cloves, Thyme. I always have to add them in that order, since that’s the way my brain works. Well, I don’t make separate trips outside for the parsley and thyme (most of the time, anyhow), but it goes into the pan in that order.

Gigantic heavy pot o’stock (seriously, this pot weighs more than 10# empty)

Cover everything with cold water and bring it to a boil. Skim off the scum that floats to the top as it cooks – that’s from the proteins that leach out of the bones and it makes for a cloudy product if you leave it in. It won’t hurt anything if you do leave it, it just looks kind of gross. Reduce the heat so your stock is just barely simmering and leave it, partially covered, to cook for as long as possible. Strain and then portion it into your storage containers. Let the stock cool to room temperature, label, and then pop it into the freezer.

From there, use it wherever you’d use canned chicken stock – soups, pan sauces, pasta, rice dishes… The sky’s the limit!