Sunday, January 07, 2007

Avgolemono & Greek Salad

After receiving the America's Test Kitchen big book of chicken and poultry recipes, I was looking forward to making a true chicken stock from scratch, something I've never tried before. When Jennifer requested her favorite soup, avgolemono, I thought that would be a perfect place to start for a rainy, windy winter's day. I decided to pair it with a simple Greek salad, once again dipping into Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything.

First, the avgolemono. Made of about 4 pounds of whole legs, one diced onion, two bay leaves, and 12 cups of water, the stock simmered uncovered for three hours. I only poked at it every once in a while to skim off the foam and fat that settled on top.

According to America's Test Kitchen, you can simmer up to five hours to get a fuller chicken flavor, but we were getting hungry. So, I strained the solids and discarded them (the chicken at this point had really good texture but hardly any taste; we might have been able to save it by turning it into chicken salad, but neither one of us thought it would be worth it). Then I added a cup of arborio rice, which simmered for about 20 minutes while I prepped the rest of the ingredients: 1 cup of fresh lemon juice, 1/4 cup chopped parsley, and four eggs whisked together. When the rice was tender and plump, I whisked the juice/parsley/egg combo into the soup. I whisked as quickly as I could to keep the eggs from cooking into egg-drop strands. There were still some slight bits of white, but overall the soup was thick and creamy.

The salad was really basic, and I stuck to Bittman's recipe word for word, mostly to see how it would come out. He uses all the usual suspects (lettuce, olives, feta, mint) and one unexpected (radish). A little olive oil and fresh lemon juice on top finished it off.

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