Monday, December 1, 2008

Thanksgiving rebound

I have officially overdosed on my turkey quota for the year. After 3 days straight of turkey and Thanksgiving leftovers in some form or another, I'll save Mr. Turkey for 2009. I hope you all had a warm, family and friend-filled Thanksgiving holiday...overflowing with good food. My family loves the holiday so damn much, we tend to opt for two Thanksgiving meals and all the leftover turkey sandwiches you can eat (I come from a long line of Jewish mothers, what can you do). I must say though, our table (both of them), is always well-balanced...roasted turkey, mashed sweet potatoes, a pear-pomegranate salad (see recipe below), roasted Brussels-sprouts, garlic mashed potatoes, orange-cranberry relish, and my grandmother's classic recipe for insane stuffing. Good thing dinner is actually pretty darn healthful, despite plentiful, because desserts are off-the-hook in my family -- between my uncle's infamous cheesecake, my mom's killer apple pie and a newly-fangled pear-almond tart by yours truly, you could easily go into sugar shock by the end of the evening. (And for the record, I did not have all 3 in one sitting...small slices is my secret to having a little of everything!).
All said and eaten, it's amazing how you can go into the holiday with the best of intentions, keep meals relatively reasonable, and still come out of the weekend feeling like the poor turkey probably does...plump, roasted, and totally over-done. That's the goodness of comforting holiday meals, and I love every bite of it. The trick is to maintain your normal eating routine as much as you can in the days before and after the big feast. Keep tabs on portions of leftovers and treats so you can work them in the remains of my fave homemade pumpkin bread that was stashed into my bag on my way back to NYC (thanks Dad!).
Take some time to reboot and rebound from a few days of heavy nibbling and imbibing. Back to basics for most meals, weaving in leftovers and treats here and there (if you still have any). With yesterday's cold, nasty weather, I decided it was the perfect day for a little post-Thanksgiving chicken soup to warm me up and set me up for a nice week of rebounding back into my normal routine...kind of like when you're rebounding from a break-up. It ain't easy to pull yourself out of the depths of relationship despair, but once you do, you feel like a million bucks. After a big grocery shopping trip, I successfully restocked my fridge with tons of fresh produce and all my standard staples to set me smooth-sailing for the week.
So back to the chicken soup...if you never thought you'd be able to whip up homemade chicken soup, think again. This might be one of the easiest, fail-safe recipes ever -- I added some brown rice this time for some depth, but you can leave it out if you wish.

Your Mama's Chicken Soup
1 small whole chicken (ideally free-range or organic)
3-4 celery stalks, chopped
3-4 carrots, chopped (leave the skin on for extra fiber and save time on peeling)
2 small yellow onions, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup brown rice, if desired
1/2 cup chopped leeks, if desired (chop up the white part)
2 small Russet or golden potatoes, if desired
salt and pepper to taste
parmesan or pecorino romano cheese for grating

Get out a massively large pot (like a good-sized pasta pot), wash the chicken and plop it in the pot. Fill up the pot to cover the chicken, about 3/4 of the way to the top. Add in chopped onion, carrot and celery. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and then turn heat to medium and let simmer for about an hour, or until the chicken is fully cooked. Turn the heat off, take the chicken out and skin it, removing white meat (and a little dark if you like) from the breast, thighs and wings. Dump the meat back in the pot. Add in your rice, potatoes and leeks and simmer on medium-low for another 45 minutes until the potatoes and rice are fully cook. Serve up in small bowls with 2-3 tablespoons of the pecorino cheese (my fave because it adds a nice kick of salty, cheesy goodness!).
Makes about 6-8 servings. Sorry, no pic, but I promise it's really tasty!

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