This great recipe is from my cooking friend Levana Kirshenbaum. It celebrates the simple but profound pleasures of corn, potatoes, and leeks. As you may have noticed, leeks--once called the asparagus of the poor, are among my favorite vegetables in the onion family. As a base for this simple, hearty chowder, they add earthy, piquant goodness. This elegant, easily made dish happily accommodates leftover chicken or corn.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 leeks, white parts only, well washed and sliced 1/4 inch thick
2 tablespoons flour
6 cups Chicken Stock (see recipe below), or good instant or low-sodium broth
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch dice
2 cups cooked chicken, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 pinches of saffron threads
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels, defrosted
Pinch of ground nutmeg
1. In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and leeks and sauté until translucent, about 4 minutes.
2. Turn the heat to low. Add the flour and cook, stirring, to make a light roux, about 2 minutes. Do not allow the flour to color.
3. Slowly add the stock. Increase the heat to high and cook, stirring, until the stock is thickened. It should have a lightly creamy consistency. If it is too thick, add more stock; if too thin, cook down gently.
4. Add the wine, potatoes, chicken, and saffron. Season to taste with the salt and pepper. Reduce the heat to medium and cook until the potatoes are tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Add the frozen defrosted or fresh corn, and cook to heat through, 2 to 3 minutes. Thin the soup with stock if it seems too thick.
Makes about 6 quarts
A good stock makes a world of difference to your cooking. By good I mean stock that is light but fully flavored, not too sweet, and has a nice amber color. Like this one.
Stock is simple to make. It cooks while you go about your business and freezes perfectly. I use different size containers for freezing this stock--1 cup, 4 cup, and so on--so defrost-ing and cooking with it is really convenient. You can add herbs such as thyme chives, or rosemary to the cooking stock, but use a light hand and keep in mind the dishes the stock will flavor--the seasonings of the stock shouldn't compete with them. By the way, you'll notice that I don't add salt to the stock. That increases its versatility.
10 pounds chicken parts and/or bones, necks, wings, reserved trimmings
4 large onions, unpeeled and quartered
6 large carrots, scrubbed and cut into 2-inch pieces
5 celery stalks with tops
4 leek tops, or 2 whole leeks, well washed and cut into 2-inch lengths
1 bunch Italian parsley
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1 to 2 sprigs fresh thyme, or 1/2 teaspoon dried 2 bay leaves
2 to 3 garlic cloves (optional)
1 bunch dill (optional)
1. Rinse the chicken parts under cold running water. Remove excess fat.
2. Place the chicken parts in a large pot. Add cold water to cover and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and using a skimmer, remove surface scum as it forms.
3. Simmer for 1 hour. Add the onions, car-rots, celery, leeks, parsley, peppercorns, thyme, bay leaves, garlic, and dill. Simmer, uncovered, until the stock is richly flavored, about 1 hour more. (For an even richer stock, boil it gently until it's reduced by half.)
4. Allow the stock to cool. Strain the stock and discard the solids. For a very clear stock, first line the strainer with cheesecloth. Chill the stock and, using a large spoon, remove the solidified fat. If using the stock immediately, skim off the fat with a spoon or blot it with paper towels. Use the stock within 2 days or freeze.
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Excerpted from Empire Kosher Chicken Cookbook by Katja Goldman and Arthur Boehm Copyright© 1999 by Katja Goldman and Arthur Boehm. Excerpted by permission of Clarkson Potter, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.