I'm a little slow today. I just switched to Sanka. So...have a heart?

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Jewish Penicillin

So, last night I began making my Chicken Soup, which I finally finished, about 24 hours after I started it. Behold, my finished product! I take chicken soup VERY seriously. And here's how it's done, Jewish style:


Soup (All of these amounts can be raised or lowered to taste, except for the chicken)

1 chicken, cut up into parts, about 4.5-5 lbs - NOT the kidneys or liver. Throw that shit out. You can also throw out the neck - good for soup, but sort of gross to think about. I pitch the neck.
2 medium onions, peeled and quartered, root cut off
1 head of celery, rinsed, cut the stalks in half so they're about 3 inches long; if the celery comes with leaves, leave 'em on!
5 or so large carrots, trimmed, peeled and cut in half
One Bunch of curley Parsley, rinsed, and de-rubberbanded
5 cloves of garlic peeled
About half a teaspoon of whole black pepper cloves
Two tablespoons of non-flavored vegetable oil

Matzah balls:
One packet Matzah ball mix (why bother making it yourself? They're going to taste the same whether they're out of the Streit's packet or the Manischewitz packet, or you stand around measuring matzah meal...)
Two eggs
Two tablespoons of vegetable oil.

Cover the bottom of a tall stock pot with the vegetable oil. Heat over medium-high. Place the chicken in the pot in two batches, skin side down, and cover the pot to hold in the smoke. Brown the chicken on the skin side, then turn over, and brown the chicken on the other side; about five minutes per side. Transfer to a plate to hold the chicken while you brown the second batch. In the second batch, throw in the quartered onions - I do the breasts and thighs first and then the drumsticks, wings, etc. in the second batch. Cover. The second batch will be very poppy and sizzly, and will smell like roast chicken and onions. Fucking amazing.

While the chicken is browning, get the rest of your ingredients together, on a plate in a heap, and in another large pot, start heating up probably three quarts of water. Don't let the water boil, but get it hot.

Once the chicken is browned, add all the chicken back into the pot, as well as any juices on the plate on which you reserved the chicken.

Toss in the rest of the ingredients and pour the heated water over everything until the water comes about two to three inches above the stuff in the pot. DO NOT ADD SALT.

Submerge a clean salad plate, right side up in the pot, to keep all the ingredients under water.

Raise the burner to high. In the meantime, get a small mug or bowl handy, along with a tablespoon. As soon as the water hits a rolling boil, lower the heat immediately to two ticks above the lowest setting, DO NOT LET THE WATER COME TO A BOIL AGAIN.

Start the arduous process of skimming all the foam off the top, while trying not to scoop off all the schmaltz (chicken fat) that accumulates on the surface. Scoop the foam off, and drain the schmaltz off back into the pot, against the side of the pot. Dump the foam and scum into the cup you have handy. Remember, the fat on the top of the soup is going to hold a LOT of the flavor in the soup. Don't let the soup boil, or else you'll whip the scum into it and make it cloudy. It won't affect the flavor much, but it won't look as pretty.

Keep the water at just barely a simmer - that means that you should see a couple bubbles coming to the surface from under the plate, every few seconds, but steadily. Periodically, skim off the foam from the top of the water, about once every fifteen minutes. It'll decrease as time goes on, and after a while, but there will be balubetchkes (cracklins') on top of the schmaltz, which you can either take off or leave in. They look ugly, but they taste like roast chicken, so whatever you want to do.

You're going to simmer the soup for at least six-ish hours, on VERY LOW HEAT. Just liiiightly bubbling. If you can keep it really low, you'll break down all the collagen in the chicken soup, and it'll gel when it's cold. That's a good thing, it'll make the soup have a great mouth texture. If you start the soup at around 9:30 p.m., make sure the soup is just slightly simmering before you go to bed - loosely cover the pot.

Get up at 3:50 a.m. to skim off the scum, turn off the heat and cover the soup.

Leave the soup on the stove all day, and go to work. I'm serious. I've never had a pot of chicken soup that hasn't sat on the stove at least 24 hours.

When you get back, get a LAARGE bowl and a big colander, and put the colander in the big bowl. With a tempura dipper, skim out the chicken carcass, reserving the breasts on a separate plate, and reserving about seven carrot sticks from the mess on the breast plate. Everything else toss in the colander in little batches. Lift the colander from the bowl, and with the Tempura dipper, press hard on all the celery and carrots and onions and chicken and garlic, so that they release their liquid into the bowl. I'd say about three batches. Once you've pressed a batch, dump the colander into the garbage, and return the soup in the bowl, into the pot.

When it gets hard to scoop more stuff out of the soup, set the colander in the biiiiig bowl, and dump the entire pot of soup into the colander, lift the colander, and press the soup out from the remaining boiled mess.

Toss the last of the stuff in the trash, but make sure you didn't throw out your seven carrots and your chickentits.

SCRUB OUT THE POT, leaving the soup in the biiiiiig bowl.

When the pot is clean again, shred the chicken off the breasts into the pot, picking through it to make sure no bones end up in the soup.

Toss the bones.

Slice the carrots into little discs, and dump them into the shredded chicken in the pot.

Return the chicken broth to the pot, pouring it over the shredded chicken and carrots. Everything should be room temperature... that's okay. You can boil the stuff now.

Turn the heat to high, until you start seeing convection in the pot. As soon as it hits a light boil, turn down the heat and simmer it, covered, while you make your balls.

Make the matzah balls according to the package directions. Beat two eggs really well with two tablespoons of vegetable oil. If you don't beat them well, you'll see those nasty egg strings in the balls. Whip 'em good so you don't. Mix in the matzah ball mix packet with a fork, and set it in the fridge for 15 minutes.

While the matzah balls are cooling, add a tablespoon and a half of salt, MAX. Grind in some pepper. You can salt your own soup when it's in the bowl, but it's risky to salt the whole thing.

Keep the soup at a low simmer for 15. When the matzah balls are ready to be formed, get a bowl and fill it half full of water.

Wet your fingers, and pick up about a teaspoon full of matzah ball mix, and roll in your wet hands. Drop the balls into the simmering soup as you form them. You should get about 12...maybe more.

Cover the soup, and simmer/steam the balls for 20 minutes.

When you're done, ladle everything into your bowl, getting some chicken, some balls and some carrots. Add salt to taste and pepper and Voila!

Jewish Penicillin, and the most comforting food I can think of! SO GOOD.


We all know that I enjoy a hard-line approach between religion and life. Practice your religion all you want, but don't interfere with MY life. Or my medical treatment.

I'm sorry. I think that when one takes the Hippocratic oath and becomes a Doctor, he is bound to fully inform the patient of ALL medical alternatives. Allowing religion to influence medical treatment options is the province of the patient, not the Doctor. If I am against having a pig's heart, I'll tell you. But you don't get to decide whether I can have one or not, just because you keep Kosher. And you don't get to deny me treatment because I'm gay and you don't like that. And you don't get to abstain from prescribing me the Morning After pill because you don't believe in abortions. My body. My choice. Your religion. Your choice. I've said it again, and I'll say it again, and again, and again, and again. Keep YOUR religion off MY body.

In my mind, it's COMPLETE medical malpractice, and something falling between Medical Incompetence/Gross Negligence and Malicious Infliction of Physical Harm on a patient, for a physician's religious views to direct the course of a patient's medical treatment.

You want to be a doctor? That's great. Be a doctor. But whether you're Jewish or Christian or Wicca or a Satanist, your particular religious views have no place in directing my course of treatment, and your personal ethics are never to come into play when, as a patient, I need you to provide me with treatment. I took an Oath to uphold the Constitution of the US and Florida. Sometimes, I disagree with what I'm doing, but it's my job. You took an oath to cure people. You may disagree, but it's your job. You don't like it? Find another job. Or, at least be absolutely forthright with your patients, letting them know that you will allow your religious views to interfere with possible treatment options.

As patients, we don't know all of the options out there, and if a physician withholds a course of treatment, because of his personal beliefs... how am I, as a sick person, going to become fully informed of my options, unless 1) you tell me; 2) I do voluminious research on the subject, while, you know, very sick; or 3) I go for, potentially, second, third and fourth opinions.

Am I the only one who thinks this is really scary and completely inappapropriate?