Valentine’s Day wasn’t nearly as awesome/awkward as those gone by. A delicious burger and fries from Killer Burger and baked brie with fig jam for dessert at home washed down with one of the most complex and incredible Brunellos I’ve ever had the pleasure of drinking. AKA – dinner. We followed up the following night at Mextiza. I was a tiny bit skeptical. Fancy Mexican food. It was totally worth it in the end. The flavors here are incredible. Molotes [fried dumplings, stuffed with black beans and spicy chicken, topped with cream and avocado chile sauce], enchiladas blancas [wild boar and spinach stuffed enchiladas, simmered in a spicy almond cream sauce, fried garlic and pickled onions], and cabrito [slow roasted goat, roasted yellow potatoes, grilled onions, served over a chile vinegar sauce, and pinto beans]. Yum. I highly encourage washing it down with a house margarita.
Did I mention that I have a copy of Ad Hoc at Home by Thomas Keller? It’s a killer Christmas present [thank you!], and was originally suggested to me by my lovely friends at Radar. They make some of my favorite food in the city, so if they start suggesting things, I listen. The book is a
lot little intimidating. These are mostly time commitments and have multiple parts, but are totally worth it for the finished product. I really really really really want to make the braised beef short ribs for the stroganoff, but when do I really commit myself to something that I have to start the previous day? I’m lazy. Someday, though.
In the meantime, I did make the Chicken Soup with Dumplings. It’s stellar. There is seriously something magical about making your own dumplings for the soup. I’d never done it before [I usually cheat and just use gnocchi or something], and it does make all the difference. The other part about straining out your vegetables that sweat together for nearly a half hour and then bathe in the stock for another half hour from your stock is something that’s so “duh” but not done enough. You’ve literally cooked out all the flavor from those vegetables. They’re shells of their former selves, and are just mush. Get ’em out of there and add fresh for the finish. Huge. Difference. The only thing I couldn’t really get right was the thickness of the soup. I don’t exactly know what I did wrong, but it wouldn’t stop me from eating it again, if only to try and perfect it. It’s not a bad problem to have. Oh, and prepare to use every single pot and pan in your kitchen. It’s one of those.
Inspiration: Ad Hoc at Home (pg. 122)
[this is list broken up into the order that you’ll use things]
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 cup carrots, thinly sliced
- 1 cup celery, coarsely chopped
- 1 cup onion, coarsely chopped
- 1 cup leeks, coarsely chopped
- 1/2 cup water
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 2 large eggs
- 1 1/2 tablespoons minced chives
- 4 quarts chicken stock
- 5 stalks celery
- 3 large carrots
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 thyme sprigs
- 1 large garlic clove, smashed
- 1/2 cup roux [4 tablespoons butter melted into 1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon flour and cooked until nutty brown]
- 2 cups cooked, shredded chicken
- 1/4 cup minced chives
- 1 tablespoon champagne vinegar
- flat leaf parsley for garnish
Melt the 1 tablespoon of butter in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the carrots, celery, onion, and leeks. Add a healthy pinch of salt, and cover. Reduce the heat to low and cook very slowly with a little stirring for about 30 minutes. The vegetables will be super tender. Turn off the heat if you’re not done with the dumplings yet.
To make the dumplings, fill a wide, deep pot with salted water and bring it to a simmer. Set up a stand mixer with a paddle attachment. Combine the water, butter and a teaspoon of salt in a medium saucepan. On medium high heat, bring it to a simmer. Reduce the heat a little and add the 2/3 cup flour all at once. Stir quickly with a stiff spoon until the dough pulls away from the sides of the pan. The pan will be nice and clean when you’re done. It’ll be smooth but moist still. Now you’ll work your arm out. For another 5 minutes, continue stirring the combined dough around the hot pan so it can dry out. You don’t want the dough to brown, so keep stirring. Once it starts to stick to the bottom or sides of the pan again, you’re good. Transfer the dough to the bowl of the mixer, and add the mustard and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Mix for a few seconds so the heat can disperse. Add the eggs one at a time while the mixer is on the lowest speed. Add the 1 1/2 tablespoons of chives and mix. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat. Shape the dumplings using two soupspoons to make a quenelle shape. It took a bit to get them actually into that shape, but I ultimately did. Drop the dumplings into the simmering water. Cook them in smaller batches, like five or six, to avoid crowding. Cook they rise to the surface, it takes about five minutes for them sot cook through. This takes a bit, but again, worth it.
To finish the soup, add the chicken stock to the vegetables you cooked earlier, and bring it all to a simmer. After 30 minutes, strain the vegetables out. Cut the remaining stalks of celery on the diagonal. You want about 1 1/2 cups of celery. Blanch the celery until tender, and submerge in an ice bath. Cut the carrots into small pieces until you get a cup and a half. Cook them in a small saucepan with the honey, bay leaf, garlic, thyme, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Cover with cold water and cook on a simmer for 5 minutes until tender. Drain the carrots. Bring the chicken stock back to a simmer, and stir in the roux a little at a time until it’s thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Simmer for 30 minutes, skimming often. I never thought that was a big deal, but it’s pretty gross. Add the dumplings, chicken, and vegetables to the soup so it can cook through. Sprinkle with the remaining chives.