Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Chicken, Pasta, and Kitchen Therapy

The month of October literally flew by.  It was a blur. When it came time for November to roll around I tried to breathe a sigh of relief, but then I remembered that contractors were coming to work on our house, I agreed to host a Pampered Chef party, my baby boy is turning 5 years old (which I seriously can't deal with), it's my mother-in-law's birthday, we have company coming, and I'm hosting Thanksgiving.   Let's not even get into all the ten year old drama that ensues everyday at approximately 3pm.  And please, for the love of God, do not begin to discuss Christmas yet.  Things will get ugly.  I may even resort to making faces at this face below.  You could get scarred for life.
My name is Kim.  I have two kids.  I have no shame.
At any rate, I think what I really need is some anxiety medication, but in lieu of that I opted for kitchen therapy and comfort food.  It may be a temporary fix, but at this point I'll take it.

So, I bought a chicken and started making chicken broth.  If you've never made your own chicken broth before I'm here to tell you that it is highly therapeutic, wonderfully comforting, and the aroma coming from the kitchen is out of this world.  Since we are cooking with Tessa Kiros at IHCC right now I chose her recipe.

Chicken Broth
Adapted from Apples for Jam by Tessa Kiros
Makes 8 cups

1 chicken (about 2-3/4 pounds), suitable for boiling
2 carrots, peeled and halved
2 leafy celery stalks
small handful of parsley stalks
7 black peppercorns
3 small shallots, peeled but left whole
1 clove garlic, peeled but left whole
10 cups water
1 teaspoon salt

Put the chicken into your largest stockpot and add the carrots, celery, parsley, peppercorns, shallots, and garlic.  Add 10 cups of water and 1 teaspoon of salt and bring to a boil.  Lower the heat and put the lid on the pan, leaving just a little gap for the steam to escape.  Simmer for 1-1/2 hours, skimming now and then.

Turn off the heat and leave the broth until it's cool enough to handle.  Carefully take out the chicken.  Strain what's left, keeping the broth to use for pasta or dumplings.  You decide if you'd like to save the carrots to eat later on.
Once the broth was ready,  I took the chicken out and removed all the meat so that I could make Tessa's Chicken Croquettes.  My chicken was a bit larger than the one she called for in her recipe, but the measurements still worked very well.  This is where I must tell you that I've made lots of chicken croquettes before, but Tessa's recipe for chicken croquettes is the best!  In fact, I'll just go to ahead and say that I know this recipe will easily be one of of our top favorites during my six months with Tessa. The chicken mixture is highly flavorful and moist and the breading is incredibly crispy and crunchy.  The croquettes are great on their own or with a dipping sauce. Tessa's recipe makes 25 smaller croquettes, but my husband doesn't always appreciate miniature food so I made 10 large croquettes.   I figured I would have leftovers, but everyone really inhaled these.  They were a huge, huge, huge hit!  I highly recommend these, especially if you have leftover chicken that you need to use up.

Chicken Croquettes
Adapted from Apples for Jam by Tessa Kiros
Makes about 25 croquettes

1 boiled chicken (the chicken used for the broth above)
3 tablespoons butter
1 small red onion, finely chopped
1 - 1/2 tablespoons chopped celery leaves
1-1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 small cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 ripe tomato, peeled and chopped
1 -1/2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 cup chicken broth
1 egg, lightly beaten
dry bread crumbs, for coating (I used a combo of panko and cornflake crumbs)
light olive oil, for frying
 lemon wedges, to serve

Note: Anytime you bread anything you should always put it back in the refrigerator to "dry out" for at least ten minutes.  This process helps the breading to adhere to whatever you're frying.

Pick all the chicken meat off the bones and throw away all the skin, bones, and bits you don't want.  Chop up the chicken finely, and put it in a bowl.

Melt half the butter in a small pan, and saute the onion over medium-low heat until it is soft and lightly golden.  Add the celery, parsley, and garlic, and when you can smell the garlic, add the tomato.  Simmer until it has totally melted, squashing it with a wooden spoon now and then as you stir.

Meanwhile melt the rest of the butter in another small pan over medium heat, and then stir in the flour,  Whisk in the broth, and let it cook for a few minutes until it is bubbling up nicely.  Whisk well to make sure it is totally smooth.  Pour into the bowl of chicken and add the tomato mixture, too.  Add the egg, and mix everything together well.  Taste for salt, adding a little extra if you think it's needed.

Put the bowl in the fridge for half an hour or so, so that you are able to roll out the croquettes more easily.

Take scoops of the mixture, more or less the size of eggs, and shape them into croquettes.  Put the bread crumbs on a plate and lightly roll the croquettes in them.

Pour about 3/4 inch of oil into a large nonstick frying pan and put over high heat.  When the oil is hot, add enough of the croquettes to fit comfortably in the pan.  Fry until they are deep golden brown all over, turning them gently with tongs.  Lift them out onto a plate lined with paper towels to absorb as much of the oil as possible while you fry the rest.  Put them onto a clean platter to serve, with lemon wedges, if you like.
With my homemade chicken broth I made Tessa's Pasta In Chicken Broth, which consists of two ingredients, three if you're feeling feisty.  All you need to do is reheat your chicken broth and cook your pasta in the broth until it is al dente.  If you feel like it, top it with some Parmesan cheese and you're all set.  Tessa's broth was mild but flavorful and the tiny pasta is a nod to childhood that somehow takes you back and makes you feel a bit pampered.  A very pleasing and rejuvenating bowl of comfort that instantly makes you feel better, no matter what ails you.

Pasta In Chicken Broth
Adapted from Apples for Jam by Tessa Kiros
Serves 4

8 cups chicken broth (see above)
1/2 (16-0ounce) package spaghettini or 1-2/3 cups other tiny pasta (I used pastina)
Grated Parmesan cheese, to serve

Bring the broth to a boil in a large pan.  Break up the pasta into shorter lengths and add to the broth.  Bring back to a boil, stir a couple of times, and then cook the pasta according to package instructions.  The pasta will absorb some of the broth as it cooks.  Serve immediately, diving down with your ladle to the bottom of the pan to make sure that everyone has a fair share of pasta and broth.  Top each serving with a heap of grated Parmesan.

Theme: In My Pasta Bowl

Every Sunday @ Kahakai Kitchen


  1. Love this post...just so comforting with all this talk about chicken broth. I love making broth in the winter, it drives me nuts to do it in the heat of summer, so I buy it then. Shame on me, I know. I will try Tessa's recipe soon. Those croquettes look absolutely perfect. I made this pasta dish in my 30 Minute Pasta Thursdays group and it was simple and good...homemade stock the bees knees for that dish! Yum on all of it!

  2. You are sooo too cute! I only posted twice in October cuz it was such a blur for me. Christmas. YIKES!!!! Everything looks delicious but chicken croquettes! I'm totally vexed!!!

  3. Love it all...never heard of chicken croquettes but I'd love to try 'em. Those 10 year olds can dish out the drama eh? I had a healthy dose myself today.

  4. Wonderful! I love the whole chicken-y story. And the croquettes! They look amazing.

  5. Kitchen therapy is my favorite kind! Love the cute picture of you!

  6. HA HA HA HA You're so cute!! And I'd have to agree that this is a big batch of therapy. You know what? I don't think I've ever had chicken croquettes. After that kind of talk, I will be making them sooner rather than later. YUM!

  7. You are a gem, Kim. Love the picture! Am also impressed that with all the crazy going on (I know that 3 pm drama by name--it's "Uuuuggghhh"), you were able to knock out 3 Tessa recipes! All three look very calming to make and eat. I need some of that!

  8. Soup is my therapy, my salve, my reason to get some winter mornings! Yes - this is picture-perfect. Returning to the kitchen for some zen time is perfect. And those chicken croquettes? Calling to me. (My husband does not appreciate miniature food either!)

  9. There was me thinking that all the drama would end by 10!!!!! The 9 year old in my life is dishing it out in spades!!!!!

    Lovin all those recipes!

  10. Getting in the kitchen is definitely the only kind of therapy that works for me! All of these look like some serious comfort food!

  11. Three recipes in one post, aren't you productive? Or are you just anticipating that this might be the last chance you get to post in November with all that you have going on? ha ha

    We're contemplating heading up "your way" this weekend (Danville BBQ contest), make sure the weather is nice okay?

  12. The chicken looks irresistibly crispy and delicious. Hopefully life will slow down for you soon.

  13. I smiled. I was thinking earlier this evening that tomorrow I needed some Kitchen therapy and poof! I am reading it on your blog.

    Making chicken broth from scratch is therapeutic and making these croquettes, well that is just making for a relaxed evening with a glass of wine.

    Have a great weekend.


    P.S. Shhh! I promise not to mention Christmas. (smile)

  14. Wow! You have some hectic days ahead, sounds like you are one that can surely handle it, especially if these recipes are your therapy! I am in need of some kitchen therapy right about now I love homemade chicken broth and would love to try this one and those chicken croquettes sound wonderful:)

  15. you're so freaking awesome, this post brought a total smile to my face. this time of year gets crazy! and i'm in for it because we have the same 3pm drama, only its of the six year old girl variety, sigh.

    LOVE the croquettes, and the broth. there really is something therapeutic about being in the kitchen!

  16. You are too funny!! Love those croquettes!

  17. I never made chicken broth myself, but probally i have to try sometime. The croquettes, wat's not to love about them. Cooking works therapeutic on me to.

  18. Both recipes look fantastic! Have to try the croquettes. They look perfectly yummy!

  19. My Mom was just asking me to make chicken croquettes - these look excellent! I would probably make them on the bigger side too. And I feel your pain - I'm buried with a million things to do over the next few weeks. I need lots of comfort food like this!

  20. Nothing like a little time in the kitchen to make life better.
    I've only make croquettes once. They were sweet potato croquettes for Thanksgiving. Let me say they were delicious, but my extended family threw a fit that I messed with the sweet potatoes. So croquettes have been off my radar for many years. I think I've been missing out.

  21. Chicken Croquettes? Mmmmm! I have had ham before, but never chicken. Cannot wait to try them!

  22. This looks like a winner all-around and perfect therapy. ;-) I would like croquettes along side my pasta in chicken broth please!


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