|Chicken soup with butternut squash & cornbread waffles|
Chicken soup is chicken soup and anybody can make chicken soup. Big whoop. This post is really about cornbread waffles - cornbread with a lovely chewy crust all around and a soft, hot stoneground corn flavor on the inside. And so easy to make, all you need is a waffle iron.
Actually, this chicken soup is kind of special for me, as it's the broth and meat from my friend Charlie Thompson's chicken, who I'll be posting a story about in a couple weeks (he runs a fully sustainable farm). Charlie's birds run free in the truest sense; happy, wander at will foul that move around the farm as herded (he's experimenting with mobile chicken houses) and jump onto the 4 wheeler ATV, begging for scraps, when you pass by.
Charlie operates under the USDA radar that allows a livestock farmer to sell the live animal, then process it as a favor, or for a small fee. The flavor is supreme, the bird itself healthy as can be (no hormones, no antibiotics), and of course, knowing exactly where your meat comes from goes without saying. And talking to Charlie is always informative, yet light, and there are always a few laughs.
Last week a head cold demanded a little homemade goodness, so I simmer this good bird until I had a delicious broth and tender meat. A butternut squash had been hanging out too long on the counter, so into the oven it went. A cup of rice cooked in some of the chicken broth mixed with water went into the pot last, rounding out a yummy chicken soup.
I got the idea for making cornbread waffles from a friend who's wife used to make bread this way - though I can't remember now if she only made cornbread as waffles or if other kinds of bread work as well (waffle experiment in my future?). In the Alabama summer, when it's too hot to work the oven, the waffle iron provided an easy end to a mean, and guests were always impressed. It's the almost gooey, soft, satisfyingly warm center that welcomes the palate after a perfectly browned crust. It's so...comforting!
Chicken Soup with Butternut Squash and Rice
1 Whole chicken, preferably from Charlie Thompson's farm, but any chicken will do
2 Stalks celery, chopped
1 Onion, quartered
10 Whole black peppercorns
Kosher salt to taste
Cold water to cover
1 Butternut squash
1 cup Uncooked rice (3 cups cooked)
As you can see, this is a pretty basic broth (head cold, slow witted, bed calling) - but it's still tasty.
Wash and dry your chicken, remove any gizzards and innards if present and remove excess fat. This bird was pretty slim, having lived the life of an athlete, so there was no extra fat. Place chicken in a large soup pot with celery, onion, peppercorns and about 1 tablespoon of kosher salt to start off (add more when finished cooking until you reach the desired salty point). Add cold water to cover. Bring to a boil, then drop the heat to a simmer and continue simmering around an hour.
Meanwhile, cut the butternut squash in half, remove most if not all the seeds and discard. Place the squash face down on a lined baking sheet (I use a Silpat, which I highly recommend for all vegetable roasting and cookie baking - it's a silicon baking sheet that saves landfill and money on aluminum foil, parchment, etc). Pierce the squash several times all over with the tines of a fork and place in a 425 degree oven. You'll need to bake it for at least 30 minutes, and depending on the size, and maybe your oven, for as long as an hour. Check it after the first 30 minutes have passed, then every ten to fifteen minutes after under it's tender and soft under the poke of a fork.
And on the other burner, start your rice according to directions on the package.
When your squash is finished baking and cool enough to handle, slice the flesh from the skin and cube into bite size pieces.
When your chicken is tender and your broth flavorful, remove the chicken and let it cool until it can be handled. Strain the broth through a wire sieve into another pot. Discard peppercorns, celery and onion.
Pull all the meat from the chicken and cut into desired bite size pieces or shreds. Add chicken into broth pot. Add squash. Add rice. Check for salt and add more if desired. And there you go!
|Cornbread waffles, Pig&Vine;|
I use my standard cornbread recipe (minus fruit & nuts in that post) for this and it works great.
1 cup Stone ground, unbleached, yellow cornflour
3/4 cup All purpose flour
1 Tbsp Baking powder
3/4 Tsp salt
1 cup Milk
4 Tbsp butter, melted
In a large mixing bowl stir in all your dry ingredients.
Whisk your egg into your milk. (A tip from Alice Water's The Art of Simple Food - use a 2 cup measuring cup, measuring out the milk first, then whisking the egg into the measuring cup)
Make a well with your dry ingredients by stirring the them up against the sides of the bowl, leaving an indention in the middle. Stir in the egg-milk mixture. When completely wet, add in the melted butter, which I like to quarter and melt for about 40 seconds in the microwave. When everything is thoroughly mixed, heat up your waffle iron.
You might have to play with the settings on your waffle iron to get the desired color and inside doneness. The hotter and longer they cook, the drier the inside. Try one at a time, until you feel like a master (which takes two waffles for most folks, but no judgements if it takes you ten or twelve).
This batter makes 4 waffles.