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KotW: Southwestern Stew. June 8, 2009

Posted by panterazero in Kip of the Week, New Mexico, soups and stews, tomato.
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had two pattypan squashes from the vegetable box, which I wanted to cook while they were really fresh. I was thinking about New Mexico and the NetHeadChef, for a customary constellation of reasons. And I had a nice batch of stock from the most recent roast chicken…

one cup dried small white beans
one-half cup red (skinless) lentils
two cups boiling water

Put the dried beans and lentils in a large cup, pour the boiling water over them, cover the cup with a saucer and leave it for at least two hours.

3 quarts carcass stock or box stock
one 15-ounce can diced tomatoes with diced green chiles
one 15-ounce can diced tomatoes
one 7-ounce can diced green chiles
one large or two medium yellow onions, chopped

one teaspoon ground cumin
one teaspoon dried thyme, crushed
one-half teaspoon dried oregano, crushed
one-half teaspoon red flake pepper, or more to taste

two medium pattypan squashes, trimmed and chunked
three medium or six small carrots, trimmed and chunked
three large or six medium cloves garlic

12 ounces or one pound interesting earth-toned sausage, like chicken mushroom, chicken artichoke, chicken apple
one 15-ounce can whole kernel corn with diced bell peppers
one-quarter teaspoon ground nutmeg
salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Combine the soaked beans, chicken stock, tomatoes and chiles, and chopped onions, and cook at a high simmer for 45 minutes to an hour, until the beans are almost tender and the lentils have almost dissolved. Add the cumin, thyme, oregano, and red flake pepper.

With the grating blade of your food processor, grate the squash, carrots and garlic together and add this to the pot, and simmer for 10 more minutes. Slice the sausage, add it, add the corn, and bring the soup to a boil, stirring for five more minutes. Add the nutmeg, and the salt and pepper as desired. This is tremendously satisfying without being heavy and, unlike most complicated soups, doesn’t need cold weather as a backdrop.

© /KC June 2009


KotW: Unbelievably Complicated Borscht January 28, 2009

Posted by panterazero in all-in-one, chicken, holidays, Kip of the Week, potatoes, poultry, soups and stews.
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If you’re like me, your early experience of borscht was with the over-refined broth often served as a starter course for Jewish holiday dinners. It looks like cranberry-grape kool-aid and tastes like a nondescript root vegetable; if you’re lucky it’s elaborated with a few shreds of beet or carrot; and if you garnish it with sour cream it’s not bad, really.


With a tip of the chef’s hat to my old pal Harriett, I give here the recipe for the reason the Soviet Army beat the Waffen-SS; the borscht that was in the fuel tanks of the first Sputnik; borscht that could make a chronic emphysema patient run the high hurdles.  Plan about three days ahead to make an eight-quart pot of this stuff, which will take hours and cost you serious money. And when it’s done and boiling, if a wooden spoon won’t stand up in the middle of the pot, you missed the bullseye.


3- to 4-pound whole chicken
one large yellow onion
Seasoning as for Roast Chicken

Season the chicken and stuff it with the peeled onion. Roast it till done, but moist; water the roasting pan (at least) midway through so the drippings don’t burn.  Put the chicken in a bowl to catch the draining juices, and allow it to cool.  Strip the chicken (don’t be compulsive about getting the last of the meat off the carcass) and refrigerate the meat.


bones and skin of the chicken
pan drippings and collected juice
onion from cavity, sliced
2 carrots, sliced
3 stalks celery, sliced
bay leaf
1 clove garlic, smashed but not skinned

Put all the above in an 8-quart stockpot and cover it with 6 quarts boiling water, then simmer for several hours — I let it bake overnight in a 225-degree oven. Refrigerate until you can remove the fat easily, 24 to 36 hours.  Meanwhile


1 bunch fresh beets (4 to 8 beets depending on size) with greens

Cut the greens off the beets.  Stem the greens and wash them THOROUGHLY in 2 or 3 changes of cold water.  Boil the beets in lightly salted water for 15 to 20 minutes.  Shred the greens.  Let the beets cool slightly, peel and chop them.  Put beets and greens into a tightly covered plastic container and refrigerate.


two pounds meaty beef short ribs (2-3 ribs)
two or three yellow onions skinned & diced
one or two peeled baking potatoes
one tablespoon oil
the stock from step two

Skim the fat off the stockpot. Lots of stock will stick to the stocktrash, so let it drain into a colander into a big bowl.  Discard the stocktrash. Wash out the 8-quart pot and brown the beef ribs in it; remove them to a plate.  Discard some of the fat, add the oil, brown the onions till golden.  Put the ribs on top of the onions, then strain in the stock through a fine strainer.  Bring to a simmer, cover and let simmer (not boil) for 3 to 4 hours.  Add the potatoes for the last hour. Meanwhile


four carrots
six stalks celery
half a small green cabbage
four to six cloves garlic

Pare the carrots and cut them into chunks.  Wash and slice the celery.  Dice the cabbage.  Shred the reserved chicken.


Remove the beef ribs from the broth and let them cool, separate and shred the meat, and discard the bones and surplus tissue.  If you have a food processor, chop the garlic, then add the potatoes and a couple of cups of stock till everything is a thin smooth slurry.  If you don’t, mash the potatoes, press the garlic, and combine them while you add stock; the result won’t be as evenly thick but will still work.

Add the chicken, beef, potatoes and garlic, and beets to the broth and let simmer 30 minutes.
Add the carrots and celery and let simmer 10 minutes, stirring.
Add the beet greens and cabbage, bring to a slow boil and cook 10 minutes, stirring.  Serve.

There you have it, comrades; the borscht of commissars. And personally, I think topping this with sour cream would be like gilding a tank, but who am I to tell you what to do?  Enjoy, you’ve worked for it.

Plain Ordinary Borscht

So now you’re saying “Kip, only a maniac would go through that.”  And I look haplessly about the room for the maniac in question, and concede that you might be right.  I pretty much guarantee that if you make borscht from the elaborate recipe once a year, after a year, you will be so hungry for it that you will resign yourself to performing those miracles again.

But what if you just want, you know, borscht, and you don’t want it to take three days, but you certainly won’t stoop to the Manischewitz stuff in the jug in the supermarket?  Well…

For the carcass stock above, substitute four quarts of box stock.  If you do that, you might want to dice up a few boneless, skinless chicken thighs to give the stock some substance; and season it generously.

The irreducible minimum for borscht is:

    Stock containing one kind of meat
    a second kind of meat (as noted, beef short rib is great, but you can use beef chuck or pork shoulder)
    beet greens
    a little garlic
    assertive seasoning.

With that as a base, you’ve actually got some latitude.  You can include the potatoes, or not.  You can add tomatoes, which traditional cooks in very old countries might sniff at, but they’re still good.  You can use other greens in addition to the beet greens; I’ve made fabulous borscht with kale.  You can add parboiled lentils.  You can add canned white beans.  If you use your imagination, you may arrive at something that some people wouldn’t call borscht, but so long as you call it delicious, there’s no harm done.  Enjoy!

A Note on Toppings

Contemporary supermarket sour cream needs to loosen up a little bit.  Stir in a little half-and-half or whole milk, while you watch the texture carefully — you want it still thick enough to stand up when it’s applied.  A little grated horseradish is a good addition.  Alternatively, use paprika, and use enough that you can taste it!

Another direction: a good slug of basil pesto, or walnut pesto, to top each serving.

© /KC January 2009

Thai Vegetable Stew January 3, 2009

Posted by panterazero in chicken, exotic!, Kip of the Week, soups and stews, Thai.
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Okay.  Our international readers don’t have this problem, but in the United States, the two holidays when turkey is classically served — Thanksgiving and Christmas — unfortunately happen to be only a month apart.  After two turkeys in the space of a month, it’ll probably be six months before you want to even think about cooking and eating another turkey, and six months after Christmas, you can’t find one to buy.  So, whether for personal or logistical reasons, we’re all through with turkey for the moment.  Let’s tackle something that in its format, in its ingredients, and in its seasoning is a complete relief.

Complicated?  Yes.  Healthy?  Yes.  Bliss-inducing?  Surprisingly.

First Day

Prepare stock:
2 quarts water
1 quart box chicken stock
6 boneless, skinless (Costco) chicken thighs; no need to thaw first
one whole stalk celery with leaves
a piece of fresh ginger the size of your thumb, peeled, and cut in quarters lengthwise
two bay leaves

Bring the water to a boil.  Add the stock and bring to a boil again (you don’t want to boil box stock very long).  Add all other ingredients, cover pot and put in 225° oven for 2 hours.

Take the pot out of the oven.  Remove the chicken thighs, put them on a plate or in a bowl, and refrigerate them.  Return stock to oven for another 2 hours.  Remove and discard the celery, ginger and bay leaves.  Cover the stock and refrigerate it overnight.

Second Day

Skim the fat off the stock, strain it if necessary, and warm it slowly.

Prepare garlic:
10 cloves garlic
2 T corn or canola oil

Chop garlic (a food processor helps) and mix it with the oil in a small microwave-safe bowl.  Microwave one minute at a time, checking, till the garlic takes on color, then thirty seconds at a time till the garlic is golden brown.  (This should take about three minutes total, but that depends very much on your microwave.  Don’t take it beyond golden brown or it may be unusable.)

Add to the stock:
the prepared garlic
one large yellow onion skinned and chopped
six medium carrots pared and cut in thick hunks
1 lb. white mushrooms washed and sliced thick

Bring to a boil, then simmer on lowest heat (you don’t want the carrots to disintegrate) for about an hour.  Meanwhile

Prepare the topping:
1 or 2 cloves garlic, peeled
2 green onions, white part and healthy-looking green part, sliced
1 cup Trader Joe’s Lime and Chile Peanuts [or:
1 cup roasted peanuts
half teaspoon red flake pepper
zested rind of one small lime ]

In a food processor mince the garlic, add the green onions and mince, add the peanuts and pulse-chop till everything is sort of chunky and sticky.  Put the mixture in a serving bowl and refrigerate.  Take the poached chicken thighs, remove and discard any fat, and shred the meat.

Stem and soak your greens (see below) if they’re not prewashed.

Add to the soup:
the shredded chicken
one 14-oz can coconut milk
2 to 4 small zucchini, diced
one 1-lb bag baby spinach
one bunch broccoli rabe, stemmed and chopped

Bring the soup to a boil and stir just until the zucchini is tender.  Serve very hot with the topping on the side; the serving spoon for the topping should hold a generous tablespoon (e. g. Chinese soup spoon).

© /KC January 2009

KotW: Roast Poultry, Part Two: Stockmaking November 28, 2008

Posted by schizodigestive in Kip of the Week, poultry, soups and stews.

In these days of chicken nuggets and microwave popcorn, stockmaking is nearly a lost art and — worse yet — sounds as if it deserves to be. The mere idea of taking an awkward, grease-coated poultry carcass, putting it in a pot with cold water, vegetables, and seasonings, and heating it carefully for four to 12 hours sounds so… pre-Civil War. Or at least pre-World War II. But I am here to single-handedly (it sounds so much better than “single-voicedly”) call for a renewed national interest in stockmaking; and I have two reasons you can’t possibly ignore.

1) As I write, good-quality commercial poultry stock costs between $2.50 and four dollars a quart. A large chicken carcass will make two to three quarts of stock, and a turkey carcass will make four to six, which — even after adding in the cost of vegetables, seasonings, and cooking — will go a long way toward reimbursing you for the bird. Argue with free meat!

2) Even without the economic argument, stock that you can make is better than what you can buy, anyway. And if you have fresh or frozen stock, you’re at least halfway to making soup, which is a terrific idea in general.


6- to 8-quart thick-walled pot (not iron) and lid
mesh colander
eight-quart mixing bowl
mesh strainer
slotted spoon


chicken or turkey carcass with skin and shreds of meat, broken into small pieces
reserved pan drippings and bits
juice from platter, if any
1 large onion, peeled and sliced or grated, from cavity or fresh
2-3 carrots, rinsed, topped and sliced or grated (no need to pare)
2-3 stalks of celery, rinsed and sliced thin, with leaves
2 cloves of garlic, skins on, smashed
2 bay leaves

Following the roasting directions I posted earlier will give you a carcass ideally seasoned for stockmaking. Bring 3 to 6 quarts of water (depending on size of carcass) to a boil in the pot, add ingredients and cover. Bring the pot to a boil again, but don’t leave it there; either reduce the heat to a simmer and cook the stock on the top of the stove for four to six hours, or leave it covered in a 225deg oven for 12 to 18 hours. The oven method produces more substantial stock, if it’s practical for you.

The temperature of a stockpot is very important, and should be verified with a meat thermometer if you have any doubt. Less than 170deg — or 180deg to be sure — isn’t safe; more than 205deg will begin bubbling, break up the sediment and sludge that should stay at the bottom of the pot, cloud the stock, make it bitter, and force you to strain it through cheesecloth or fine mesh before you use it. If you keep the temperature well below boiling, the sediment will stay at the bottom and you can pour the clear stock off the top through an ordinary plastic mesh strainer. If your recipe needs better filtration than that, use the plastic mesh strainer and then a fine wire strainer. Beyond that, I refer you to the arduous chemical methods lovingly set forth in classic French cookbooks. Bear in mind that severe filtration will lessen flavor.

Set up a colander in a big steel mixing bowl. Take the stockpot out of the oven or off the heat. With a slotted spoon or something like it, scoop all the solid trash from the stockpot into the colander, and let the stock drip off the trash into the bowl, which should take about half an hour. Discard the trash, rinse the colander, put the colander back in the bowl, and pour the rest of the stock through it; this will take out the last few big pieces. Take out the colander and empty it again. Rinse and wipe out the pot and pour the stock from the bowl, through the strainer, back into the pot.

Refrigerate the stock for 24 to 48 hours, remove the fat, optionally strain the stock one last time, and use it or freeze it in Ziplocs.

© /KC November 2008

KotW: Red Lentil and Mushroom Soup October 22, 2008

Posted by schizodigestive in Kip of the Week, soups and stews.
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This has “rainy November night” written all over it, as well as “sourdough baguette” or maybe “cornbread.” The silky, glossy broth is a product of the red lentils, which are the most self-effacing of legumes; with even half an hour’s cooking, they completely dissolve and vanish, adding sophisticated substance to the stock.

1 medium onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, sliced or slivered
3 T olive oil
6 cups scratch chicken stock, or 1 quart good box stock and 2 cups water
1 cup red (skinless) lentils
1/2 lb. white mushrooms, sliced thick
3 medium carrots, pared and sliced thick
one roasted red bell pepper (from a jar), diced
1/2 to 1 lb. mild sausage (Aidells garlic artichoke is particularly good here)
1/4 cup chopped parsley
salt and pepper to taste

Start the garlic, onion and oil in a soup kettle over low heat and saute till the onion is limp and the garlic is golden. Add the mushrooms and stir till they start to shed liquid. Add the stock and bring it to a boil, add the lentils and simmer 20 minutes. Add the carrots, diced pepper and sausage and simmer another 10 minutes. Bring back to a boil, stir in the parsley, salt, and pepper, and serve.

© /KC October 2008

KotW: Green Split Pea Soup October 9, 2008

Posted by schizodigestive in Kip of the Week, soups and stews.
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According to my mother, this recipe originated in the 19th century. But she made it a little bit different than her mother did, and I make it a little bit different than she did… so, after maybe 150 years, it’s pretty special. I try to hold this back during spring and summer, so I’ll really appreciate it when the rain and cold weather come.

3 quarts chicken stock
1 cup dried split peas
one large onion
1 (big Russet) to 4-5 (little Yukon gold) potatoes
one bay leaf
4-6 cloves garlic
4 medium carrots
1 lb. sausage (chicken apple, andouille, bratwurst, hot dogs)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried dill OR dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
salt to taste
sriracha to taste (start with about two tablespoons)

Reserve 2 cups of the chicken stock. Bring the remaining 2 1/2 quarts to a boil in a 6-quart pot. Peel the onion and stick a metal or bamboo skewer all the way through, or a toothpick from one side to the center. Wash the potatoes and skin the garlic.

Add the split peas to the stock, bring back to a boil, and stir constantly till the peas start to swell, 3 to 5 minutes. Cover the pot, turn OFF the flame and let the soup stand for 15 to 20 minutes. (This prevents the peas from sticking to the bottom of the pot.) Then bring just to a boil once more, stirring.

Add the onion, potatoes and bay leaf. Cover and put over a very low flame, or in a 275° oven, for 2 hours, stirring occasionally. Pare and slice the carrots and slice the sausage. Remove the bay leaf and the skewer/toothpick. Halve the onion.

In a food processor, chop the garlic, then puree the onion and potatoes thoroughly, adding 1 cup of the reserved chicken stock. Pour the onion/potato/garlic puree into the soup pot, through a coarse strainer, probably pushing it a bit with a spoon, and discard the bits of skin. Rinse the tank with the second cup of stock and add that too. Bring soup back to the boil, turn down the heat, stir with a wire whisk — it tends to stick at this point — and cook for about 10 more minutes. You’ll know when it’s been long enough, because the puree will incorporate fully and the soup will become slightly thinner.

Add the carrots, sausage, spices, herbs, and sriracha, and cook over a low flame just till carrots are tender. Salt to taste (mine needed about 1/2 teaspoon) and serve.

Cornbread is good with this.

© /KC October 2008

KotW: Fennel, Potato and Prosciutto Soup September 3, 2008

Posted by schizodigestive in Kip of the Week, poultry, soups and stews.
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In late summer or early fall you’ll find the magic moment for this soup — when you can still pick tender fennel bulbs out of your garden or buy them in a produce market, but your evenings will be cool enough that you’ll welcome a dish that’s hot and satisfying without being heavy.

3 quarts flavorful chicken stock (carcass stock or low-sodium organic box stock)
2-3 chicken thighs skinned

3-4 medium to large fennel bulbs
3 tablespoons butter

4 cups (packed) fennel fronds pulled off stems
1 cup stock out of the pot
1 cup plain yogurt
1/4 cup cream cheese

3 to 8 potatoes, depending on size and type, peeled and diced
3 ounces prosciutto, diced

Bring stock to boil. Add chicken pieces and allow to simmer till meat is tender. Remove chicken pieces, let cool slightly, shred meat and return shreds to stock.

Clean fennel bulbs and fronds VERY carefully. Slice bulbs thin and cook slowly in butter till tender. Add potatoes and prosciutto to stock and leave on fast simmer.

Put fennel fronds, then cream cheese, then yogurt, then stock in food processor and puree to neon-green mush. Turn out mixture into sieve over cup or bowl and press mixture till dry. Set bowl aside. Discard pulp in sieve. Rinse food processor tank, then puree sauteed fennel and pan juices. Add fennel to stock.

When potatoes are nearly done, bring soup to boil, add fennel/dairy mixture from bowl and stir just until combined. Serve with toasted chunks of a sourdough baguette or ciabatta.

© /KC September 2008

KotW: New Mexico Food, Part Two July 16, 2008

Posted by sarawr in herbs & spices, Kip of the Week, New Mexico, restaurants, roasts, soups and stews.
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This is the signature dish of some parts of New Mexico, and has escaped to a few places — not many — in other southwestern states. If the chile grows where you are, you can order this (usually for about five bucks a bowl) at fancy restaurants, less fancy restaurants, coffee shops and even airport lunch counters (note 7). If the chile does not grow where you are… which may be only a few miles of difference… you will ask for green chile stew and the waitress will look at you funny.

But although it’s useless to order this in a restaurant in (say) northern California, you can make it yourself if you acquire the materials. That’s an adventure in itself and not cheap, but it can be done. Personally, I do it, because I think that really good green chile stew is one of the best dishes I’ve ever eaten. (And if the best green chile stew I’ve ever made has never quite equaled what they serve in the little restaurants around where Sara lives — well, that’s the exile’s lament.)

4 quarts chicken stock (note 1)
28-ounce can diced Italian tomatoes in juice
2 big yellow onions chopped fine
6-8 cloves of garlic, peeled
1 lb. (about a dozen) roasted Barker, Big Jim, Sandia or Socorro green chiles, skinned, topped, seeded and chopped (note 2)
two teaspoons powdered cumin
two teaspoons dried Mexican oregano
salt to taste
3 4-ounce cans Hatch diced green chiles (note 3)
1 cup of 505 (or other) medium green chile sauce
4 to 6 cups of roast chicken meat, mixed light and dark, diced (note 4)
6 stalks of celery trimmed and sliced
6 carrots pared and cut into hunks
2 large white potatoes, peeled and cut into french-fry-like sticks (note 5)
one can El Pato Salsa de Chile Fresco (note 6)

Bring the chicken stock to a boil, add the tomatoes and onions, and let simmer twenty minutes. Press in the garlic, add the chopped roasted chiles, cumin, oregano, and salt, and let simmer twenty minutes more. Add the canned chiles, chile sauce, meat, celery and carrots, and cook till the carrots are half-done. Add the potatoes and the El Pato sauce, and continue to cook till the potatoes are sort of not raw. (They’ll keep cooking in the hot broth but you want them to still be a little crunchy.)

Serve with warm flour tortillas, homemade if you can get them.


1. The best chicken stock, of course, will be made from the carcasses of a couple of roast chickens, with vegetables and seasoning. If you don’t feel like going that far, use good-grade chicken stock in boxes, but choose organic and low-sodium — you can adjust the salt later on your own and you don’t want too much added in advance.

2. Where the chiles grow, you can get these freshly roasted in August and September, or frozen the rest of the year. If, like me, you don’t live there, you can order them (mostly in fall, winter, and spring, not summer) frozen and airfreighted from places like newmexicanconnection.com or hotchiles.com. They’ll be about $10 a pound.

I recommend you buy medium or medium-hot frozen peppers, and whole, not chopped. The ones that are chopped before freezing lose too much flavor — at least for that price. When you’re ready to use the peppers, thaw them, take the tops off, hold them under cold running water, slip off and discard the skins, split the peppers open and rinse out the seeds, then chop the peppers.

3. Yes, the canned chopped peppers do have to be Hatch — the national brands, like Ortega and La Victoria, don’t taste the same at all. As for the sauce, it can be 505, Garcia, Hatch, Leal’s… just so long as it’s from New Mexico or, at a stretch, West Texas. If you don’t have sauce, use more canned peppers, and vice versa, but it’s best to use both.

4. Chicken is my preference but you can also make this with bite-size pieces of pork shoulder, or even with hamburger, although that’s my least favorite. If you use red meat, brown it before you add it.

5. These are authentic, but optional. If you use them, you might want to put them in what you’re currently serving rather than in the whole pot, so they won’t get cooked twice in the leftovers.

6. This is sold in little yellow eight-ounce cans. One side says “Tomato Sauce” (understatement) and has a picture of a blue-headed duck in an oval frame (“El Pato” means “the duck”). The other side says “Salsa de Chile Fresco” and has a picture of three chili peppers, one red and two yellow. This sauce adds cascabel chiles to the stew, which are very good things. In the Southwest you can buy this in Wal-Mart, in California I’ve even found it in Safeway, and you can also buy it online; it’ll cost fifty cents to a dollar-fifty a can depending on where and how you buy it.

7. Most of the restaurants with good stew are sort of…remote. But on the upper floor of the Albuquerque airport (Sunport), between the elevators and the A gates, there’s a coffee counter called Black Mesa Coffee Company that makes excellent green chile stew. Also pretty good coffee.

(c) July 2008 Kip Crosby