Broth for dummies
You know what I love about being sick? Nothing!
The particularly irritating thing about my current cold is that I can't taste anything. However, I did make some chicken broth. Actually, I've been making chicken broth for a long time, I just didn't realize it.
I learned from Chickenman that the best way to cook pastured chicken -- which can be a lot tougher than the cornfed, caged chicken to which the American palate has grown accustomed -- is to put it in a crockpot with an onion. No water -- just an onion. The chicken will make its own juice. Yeah, I was skeptical too. Cook it on low for about 7 hours and voilá! A deliciously tender chicken. Use leftovers for yummy sandwiches.
It hadn't occured to me that the "juice" from the chicken was actually perfectly good broth that I was wasting. I thought you had to make it exactly the way Man of La Muncha says. I was guiltily buying packages of so-called "free range" chicken broth from Whole Foods, knowing that it probably wasn't anything close to what "free range" is supposed to mean. Picture chickens packed in a shed, with a lone window that they never use and you'll have the USDAs definition of free-range. And here was some actual free-range broth which I had been throwing out for six months.
My mother says that our family has "gaps" in reason. I'm sure it's a universal thing, but this one shamed me with its wastefulness. But I shouldn't be so hard on myself -- this Ethicurean business has a giant learning curve. It's way harder than college. Book-learnin' is a cinch, but figuring out how to cut up a whole chicken or make your own bread? Now that's a challenge.
So I strained the broth with cheesecloth, and put it away for later use. As luck would have it, I got sick the next day, with homemade chicken and broth just languishing in my fridge, ready to make me well.
I sauteed some onions and garlic in butter, then some carrots and slices from a broccoli stem I had in the fridge. The broth had conveniently separated overnight in the fridge, so I took off the fat block and threw it out. Dammit! I probably could have used that fat for something too! Next time, chickenfat, next time.
I added 2 cups of water to the 2 cups of broth I had on hand, and brought it up to a boil.
Salt and pepper, then some simmering. After it had simmered for about 20 minutes, I added the chicken and simmered for about ten more minutes. Then I threw in about a cup of somewhat fresh (as in limp, but not slimy) cilantro which I had been worried about not using. I ate it, and it was good.
I was still sick though. Turned into a sinus infection. Wish I could tell you how yummy the cauliflower curry soup I made was, and the grassfed beef meatloaf with fresh dill and onions, along with the caramelized turnips and sauteed turnip greens. I heard it was very tasty.
It's odd. In the past, I found not being able to taste my food to be boring and annoying, but I didn't feel despondent about it. I guess that's because it didn't seem a terrible thing to miss out on the salty wateriness of a can of Progresso soup, perhaps with some HFCS-laced saltine crackers. Now that I'm missing out on things like roasted beets and squash, cooked with fresh herbs, it's quite a different story.
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