Sunday, November 06, 2005

How a dodgy looking chicken led to a soup from heaven!

Well I trundled around Dunnes in Clondalkin searching for culinary inspiration yesterday afternoon. I soon gave up as Dunnes is not really the place for inspiration - Superquinn would be better (hears La Bamba shuddering from here) or a farmers market if I lived near such a thing. I put a chicken in my trolley, they were on special offer, quite big and I thought I could spice it up a bit, bung it in the oven and put it with some cous cous or a baked spud and a bit of spinach.

When I got to the checkout I took another look at the chicken and realised there was a reason that it was the only one left on the shelf. It was a bit 'worse for wear' so I handed it back to the woman at the checkout and decided to take a gander at the butchers in the shopping centre on the way out for a few chicken legs. The butchers is fairly ok, always clean but not really known for its value other than deals on minced beef. As I eat so little meat these days I probably have only bought something here about 10 times in the 4 years we have lived nearby.

As it was heading for 5pm the staff were beginning the clean up, and the counters were beginning to empty. One thing did jump out at me - ham hocks - the label said Great value @ €1.50. Now I have never bought a ham hock before and not sure if I had eaten it either. Ham joints yes but not a hock. However I saw it and thought 'Nigel will know what to do with a ham hock', took 1.50 out of my pocket and headed home to cook book corner.

And voila..... here it is. A main course soup for a winters day. In the recipe from Appetite, Nigel Slater suggests using the end of a parma ham or a ham hock or for semi veggies some Parmesan rinds snaffled from the generous local deli. (Nigel lives in London with a) local deli's and b) generous ones!)

With dried beans, root veggies and herbs you cook it for 2 hours. As usual he suggests alternatives such as greens, different beans, and more herbs to change the soup with the mood or the contents of the fridge.

I used a mixture of haricot and blackeyed beans and took some meat from the bone and flaked it into the soup and also added spinach leaves 1/2 minutes before eating.

It was gorgeous, much better than one of my lentil soup (sludge) creations and nicely garlicky with the beans having disintegrated a bit to thicken it. No salt needed or anything else of a chemical nature either. The ham was also very good - even better at only €1.50!


At 04:06, Anonymous morgan said...

Well done for your first food post, but what's a hock anyway?

At 11:11, Blogger Suzy said...

According to 'The hock is the lower portion of a hog's hind leg, made up of meat, fat, bone, gristle and connective tissue. Most have been cured, smoked or both, but fresh hocks can sometimes also be found. Ham hocks are generally used to flavor dishes such as soups, beans and stews that require lengthy, slow cooking.'

I won't talk about last nights premiere dinner (Braised Lamb Shanks - thoroughly delicious) because I think that people will get worried about my attachment to weird animal body parts! Tonight its going to be gnocchi and mushrooms and courgettes I think.

At 10:25, Anonymous morgan said...

No offence, but I think I'll stick with the vegetarian + seafood diet ;)

Have just done another seafood noodle dish, and hopefully the noodles look a little less worm-like...


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