jaunthie: (Default)
I've noticed in the last week or two that the garlic in the grocery store is really looking great - big heads with large, firm cloves and great flavor. I got some spring garlic in my market basket last week, which I used for stir fry. It was barbeque weather today, and I hate to waste heat (firing up the charcoal grill for a couple of chicken breasts just doesn't seem quite right somehow), so I roasted/smoked three heads of garlic, some boneless skinless chicken thighs, and a couple of poblano peppers, and used them in an improvised garlic chicken soup recipe. It turned out to be extremely tasty (and potent!), so here's the approximate recipe. Try it the next time you fire up the grill. Be advised that this can be a very slow-cook recipe, so it's a good one to do while you're doing other things (like tidying the kitchen or whatever area is relatively near the grill).
  • 3 large heads of garlic

  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken thighs, trimmed and spread flat

  • 1 sweet onion, chopped

  • 2 carrots, chopped

  • 2 or 3 stalks of celery, chopped

  • 2 poblano peppers

  • 1/2 bunch parsley, coarsely chopped

  • 2 sprigs fresh oregano

  • 2 or 3 fresh basil leaves

  • 3 tbs olive oil

  • 8 cups chicken stock

  • 1 to 2 tsp cumin powder

  • 1 lime

  • salt and pepper to taste

  • charcoal grill

  • frying pan

  • large sauce pan

  • blender

  • 2 cups soaked mesquite chips

Get your grill fired up. I used mesquite charcoal, but any charcoal will do as long as you have the mesquite chips. While the grill is heating, separate out the cloves from the 3 heads of garlic but do not peel. Place them on top of a long strip of foil. Drizzle them with 1 tbs. of olive oil, and fold the foil up into a packet, leaving just a slight crack at the top for steam to escape and smoke to get in. When the grill is hot, start adding some of your soaked mesquite chips (add more whenever necessary to keep the smoke fragrant). Place garlic packet on one side of the heated grill and roast until cloves are soft. Depending on the temperature of your grill, this could be as little as half an hour or as long as an hour and a half. While the garlic is roasting, cook the 8 chicken thighs until done (again, time will depend on the temperature of your grill - and remember, the slower the cooking time, the more smoke flavor will get into the meat. The paranoid or perfectionist among us will appreciate using a probe thermometer). When the chicken thighs are done, remove from the grill and toss on the poblano peppers to roast, turning every 10 minutes until the skins are blistered and loose. Let the chicken rest for 10 minutes before slicing into thin strips. When garlic is soft, remove from grill, let cool slightly, then peel the cloves (very easy when the garlic is soft and gooey).

While all this grilling is going on, heat 1 tbs olive oil (or less) in the frying pan and sautee the onion, carrots, and celery until vegetable matter is soft and fragrant. Turn off heat and place parsley, oregano, and basil on top of hot veggies to wilt slightly. Put the veggies, the herbs, and the garlic into a blender with 1/4 cup of the stock and puree. Add a touch more stock if needed to blend. Heat the remaining olive oil in your frying pan and return the puree to the pan. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the puree has dried out somewhat and is starting to brown. Transfer the puree into the sauce pan and add 4 cups of stock, the cumin powder, and the sliced chicken. Bring up to a simmer while you deglaze the frying pan with more stock, scraping until all the browned bits are dissolved. Add the deglazing liquid to the sauce pan with the rest of the stock. Simmer 25 minutes. While simmering, peel, deseed, and chop up the roasted peppers and add them to the soup. At the end of the 25 minutes, remove from heat and add the juice of 1 lime. Ladle soup into bowls and optionally garnish with whatever seems handy - a dollop of yogurt or sour cream, an avocado wedge, or (in our case last night) a sprinkling of the remnants of the white corn chips from Will's poker game and a little grated cheddar. Serve with a nice spinach salad.

I suggest having something minty on hand for dessert. ;-)
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