Inspired by Cat’s flurry of posts, I took the opportunity to document our humble domestic meal tonight. In rainy, low-ceiling, grey Seattle, this meal comes as a real tonic. The best thing about this meal is that it is a total bonus thrown together from leftovers from—eeck—a week ago!
We had had some friends over a week ago for a belated Channukah party, which was totally rad and super fun, but nothing on the scale of Cat and Gary’s soiree (WHOA—wish we had attended—looks amazing!). We served some roasted chickens, which are always wonderful to eat, but what I savor most is gleaning the scraps left on the bird, setting them aside, and making stock. From the stock and left-over shredded chicken, we got a nice enchilada party with our buddies Pete and Jenell, who at the same dinner inaugurated their first Settlers of Catan match. Then tonight this meal happened, and was worthy of a post…
Again, this meal is just killer when it’s cold out, or your feeling under the weather (too much holiday cheer, etc.). Here’s more or less the ingredient list:
Two fistfuls of shredded chicken per person
A bowl or two of stock per person (homemade obviously worlds better than store-bought)
An onion or shallots or something, chopped
Some garlic, minced
Oregano (we had fresh on-hand), chopped
Cilantro (fresh—is there any other kind?), chopped
2-4 corn tortillas per person, cut into thin strips
Fresh cracked pepper, more than you think is rational
Expensive and rare colored salts, to taste
2 limes per person, or more than you think is rational
Grated extra sharp cheddar (Tilamook was on hand)
Optional is cotija cheese (We had it, so threw it in, why not)
Olive oil for sauteeing
Canola oil for frying (1-2 cups)
- Take shredded chicken and fry it in hot olive oil in a pot that you will make the soup in, tossing the onions and garlic on top, medium-high to high. The goal here is to take cooked chicken and brown it in the pan. The nice auburn crust on the chicken is great for looks, but the brown bits that develop in the pan are important for flavor, and when you see this develop after 5 or so minuted, throw some water in, a cup or two, and deglaze the pan by scrapping the brown bits off on high.
- Throw a bunch of stock in and simmer with oregano and a Bill and Melinda Gates generous amount of black pepper.
- Meanwhile, heat canola oil, maybe a cup, in a smallish sauce pan until the surface dimples with heat. Throw a test tortilla strip in—if it floats immedately your temp is good. Smoking is bad, here as elsewhere. Throw the tortilla strips in, a handful at a time, and have a slotted spoon or a spider on hand. Fry until blond or golden brown, set on paper towel to cool.
- It’s best to have the cilantro chopped, the cheese grated, and the limes cut into Mexican wedges ahead of time, so that when your tortillas strips are ready to go you throw the whole thing together in the bowl—the tortilla strips will crackle, still being hot with micropockets of roiling oil.
- Put strips in bowl, ladle chicken and chicken broth on top, throw some cilatro, sharp cheddar, and cotija on top like Emeril—BAM!Ô —and squeeze the lime on top.
- Enjoy with loved ones. Listen to Frank Ocean’s song Pink Matter on Rdio.