Sunday, February 1, 2015

01 February 2015

After an action packed celebration of my birthday in Atlanta last weekend, we slowed down a bit the past couple of days. On Friday night, we enjoyed a nice dinner at Union Hill Grill and were lucky enough to score a seat at the bar with one of our favorite bartenders and friend, Heidi Ready. Saturday was very low key, and we ventured over to Roswell for dinner and cocktails.

Today, we caught up on some chores around the house, and I went into the office for a while after starting a large pot of Asian chicken stock for some Vietnamese chicken soup, or Pho. The rainy day inspired me to cook something warm and comforting, but I also wanted to be a little healthier as well. Pho was the perfect solution. I had a local free range chicken in the freezer from Joyful Noise in Ball Ground, and we ventured over to Whole Foods at the new Avalon development for the other ingredients. Due to the Super Bowl, Whole Foods was packed, but we managed to find most of the things we needed, as well as a few items we didn't know we needed until we saw them. That's the way things usually go at that store! In addition to the Chicken Pho, I picked up some pork and vegetable pot stickers for an appetizer, and I decided to make some almond cookies for dessert.

The stock for the Pho was a long and tedious process, but it was well worth the effort. It was rich, hearty and very flavorful. All in all, it was a great success. We had Sunday Supper and enjoyed watching the Super Bowl. Instead of the obligatory chicken wings, I made crispy Chinese five spice chicken skins instead. It was my first attempt at cooking chicken skin, and it worked pretty well.

Now, the weekend is drawing to a close, and a cold, steady rain is falling in Canton. As always, there are ongoing debates about preserving our past and defining a vision for our future. I'm sure the dialog will continue to intensify in the week ahead, but I am happy that our friends and neighbors feel so passionate about the City of Canton. After all, there is nothing more dangerous than apathy and complacency. On this Super Sunday, however, I'm simply content to be warm, dry and filled with the comfort of a home cooked meal.

The Menu:

- Chicken Pho (Vietnamese Chicken Soup)

- Pork and Vegetable Pot Stickers

- Chinese Five Spice Crispy Chicken Skins

- Almond Cookies

The Recipe – Chicken Pho

(Adapted from Food and Wine Magazine)


2 unpeeled yellow onions, quartered
Three 1/2-inch-thick slices of fresh ginger, smashed
4 quarts cold water
3 pounds chicken wings
One 3 1/2-pound chicken, quartered
1 tablespoon salt
2 teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoon Better than Bouillon, Beef paste (optional)
1/4 cup Asian fish sauce
1 pound dried rice noodles
1 scallion, thinly sliced
1 pound mung bean sprouts
1/2 cup torn basil leaves, preferably Thai basil
2 limes, cut into wedges
2 jalapeƱos, thinly sliced
Asian chili-garlic sauce and hoisin sauce, for serving


Preheat the oven to 400°. Put the onions and ginger on a baking sheet and roast for 30 minutes until softened and lightly browned.

Fill a large stockpot with the water and bring to a boil. Add the roasted vegetables, chicken wings, quartered chicken, salt, sugar, beef bouillon paste and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to moderate and simmer until the chicken is cooked, about 30 minutes.

Transfer the quartered chicken to a plate and let cool slightly. Remove the meat from the bones and refrigerate. Return the skin and bones to the stockpot and simmer for 2 hours longer.

Strain the chicken broth into a large soup pot, and cook over high heat until reduced to 12 cups, about 15 minutes. Stir in the fish sauce.

In a large bowl of warm water, soak the noodles until pliable, about 20 minutes.

Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil. Drain the noodles, then add them to the saucepan and boil over high heat until tender, about 3 minutes. Drain well. Transfer the noodles to 6 large bowls and sprinkle with the scallion. Add the reserved chicken to the broth and simmer until heated through.

Ladle the broth and chicken over the noodles. Serve with the bean sprouts, basil, lime wedges, jalapeƱos, chili-garlic sauce and hoisin sauce.

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