Pho Style Chicken Stock

Do you love Vietnamese pho as much as I do? Sometimes I feel I cannot get enough of it. If you have never tried pho, please go out and try it, or better yet try making your own. The broth is unique in the sense that I know you will fall in love with it. It has notes of cinnamon, star anise, and roasted onions and ginger that it has you slurping up those noodles, beef, and bean sprouts like you were some sort of soup ninja. As pho is typically done with beef, there is also a chicken pho that is just as great. So recently I decided to make a big batch of pho style chicken stock to be used in some of my braises, and a base for ramen throughout the week. This stock is so good that you can simply reheat any day during the week, and drink it from a cup.

Pho Style Chicken Stock

Ingredients:

  • 2 whole onions
  • 3 inch piece of ginger
  • 2 lb chicken thighs
  • 1.5 lb chicken drumsticks
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 4 quarts of water, to cover
  • 4 tbsp fish sauce
  • 4 whole star anise
  • 1/2 stick cinnamon
  • 1 cup of sake, optional
  • 2 tbsp sugar

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Add the onions and ginger to a baking sheet, and place into the oven until they are nice and charred. You can do this on your grill as well if you desire. Once charred, add them to the stock pot, along with the chicken pieces, salt, fish sauce, star anise, cinnamon, sake, and sugar.

How to make chicken pho stock

Bring the stock to a boil, then reduce the heat. You will notice a bunch of chicken scum come to the top during the simmer. No fear. You want to remove all of this. Use a skimmer to remove the scum, and discard. If you do not have a skimmer, use a large spoon. Continue to remove the scum as it appears.

I cooked my stock for about 6 hours, because, hey, why not? Once thoroughly cooked, strain using a chinois, or another type of strainer over a large pot. I use the chinois, and press the mixture until all of the stock is strained. Let the stock cool, the cover and refrigerate.

When you are ready to use, add the stock (it will be thickened from all of that great chicken fat) to your pot to reheat, letting it come to a boil.

This pho style chicken stock is just loaded with awesome flavor, and again is something you can use for a couple of weeks, whether that be with a noodle soup, a braise, or as part of a slow cooker recipe. Hope you enjoy!

Pho Style Chicken Stock
Author: 
Recipe type: Soup
Cuisine: Vietnamese
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 3 quarts
 
Ingredients
  • 2 whole onions
  • 3 inch piece of ginger
  • 2 lb chicken thighs
  • 1.5 lb chicken drumsticks
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 4 quarts of water, to cover
  • 4 tbsp fish sauce
  • 4 whole star anise
  • ½ stick cinnamon
  • 1 cup of sake, optional
  • 2 tbsp sugar
Instructions
  1. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Add the onions and ginger to a baking sheet, and place into the oven until they are nice and charred. You can do this on your grill as well if you desire. Once charred, add them to the stock pot, along with the chicken pieces, salt, fish sauce, star anise, cinnamon, sake, and sugar.
  2. Bring the stock to a boil, then reduce the heat. You will notice a bunch of chicken scum come to the top during the simmer. No fear. You want to remove all of this. Use a skimmer to remove the scum, and discard. If you do not have a skimmer, use a large spoon. Continue to remove the scum as it appears.
  3. I cooked my stock for about 6 hours, because, hey, why not? Once thoroughly cooked, strain using a chinois, or another type of strainer over a large pot. I use the chinois, and press the mixture until all of the stock is strained. Let the stock cool, the cover and refrigerate.
  4. When you are ready to use, add the stock (it will be thickened from all of that great chicken fat) to your pot to reheat, letting it come to a boil.

 

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Beef Cheek Tacos

I have been thinking about making tongue tacos lately. I know, many might think of this being gross, however if you have never ordered ‘lengua’ from your local tacqueria, well you are missing out. The great thing about using other cuts of beef are that they are not only tender, but the beef flavor escalates into something extraordinary, and to me that is pretty awesome. So this past weekend when I was shopping for both Asian and Mexican ingredients, and devouring some great tacos from El Rey in Milwaukee, I decided to browse around and try to find tongue. They had pork tongue, but not beef, but with that said, I saw this great package of beef cheeks. I was all in.

How to make Beef Cheek Tacos

I was not going to let my family know what I was making, and as far as they knew, it was just beef. If I mentioned beef cheeks, I knew that they would probably hesitate, and back out from trying it. So the night before, I decided to brine it, as I would have if making beef tongue. Trust me on this one, find and make beef cheeks.

Let’s get started.

Ingredients for the Brine:

  • 6 cups of water
  • 1 lime, cut in half, squeezed
  • 1 orange, cut in half, squeezed
  • 1 whole guajillo chili, stem and seeds removed
  • 1 whole dried chipotle chili
  • 1 whole puya chili
  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 1 1/2 tbsp salt
  • 4 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 2 lbs of beef cheeks, fat trimmed

Ingredients for the tacos:

  • 2 cups of water or beef stock
  • 2 tbsp canola oil
  • fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1/2 avocado, diced
  • 1 whole lime, cut into quarters
  • warmed flour tortillas

Make your brine by adding everything but the beef cheeks to a stock pot. Bring to a simmer, stirring along the way, ensuring you dissolve the salt and sugar. Once dissolved, remove from the heat, and let it cool.

Beef Cheek Tacos

Add the beef cheeks to a large sealable bag and pour in the cooled brine. Seal and place in the refrigerator overnight.

The following day, pour out the brine, and add the beef cheeks to a large saute pan or dutch oven. Add about 2 cups of water or beef stock, bring to medium heat, cover, and cook for about 3 hours. Reduce the heat to a medium-low once it comes to a boil.

Beef Cheek Tacos

After 3 hours, remove the beef cheeks onto a plate, and let them cool. Once cooled, slice and then chop the beef cheeks.

When you are about ready to serve, heat a large skillet on medium-high heat and add in the oil. Add as much beef cheeks as you want, and cook until those beef cheeks get a nice sear on them. You want to get that great crispiness on it.

How to make beef cheek tacos

When you are ready to serve, add the beef cheeks to a warm and toasted tortilla, top with fresh cilantro, minced shallot, a bit of avocado and a squeeze of lime juice. Repeat.

My son, who is now getting into onions, and one that was lingering around when I was making these tacos, tried one (I was surprised as he was not a fan of avocado, but was convinced by my sell) and devoured it.  These beef cheek tacos are probably now my favorite, and I do not kid you when I say that. The texture was spot on, and the beefiness escalated from that of skirt or flank steak, plus a heck of a lot cheaper.  Give these a shot if you are looking from some really great beef tacos. Hope you enjoy!

Beef Cheek Tacos
Author: 
Recipe type: Tacos
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
 
Ingredients
  • Ingredients for the Brine:
  • 6 cups of water
  • 1 lime, cut in half, squeezed
  • 1 orange, cut in half, squeezed
  • 1 whole guajillo chili, stem and seeds removed
  • 1 whole dried chipotle chili
  • 1 whole puya chili
  • ½ cup of sugar
  • 1½ tbsp salt
  • 4 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 2 lbs of beef cheeks, fat trimmed
  • Ingredients for the tacos:
  • cups of water or beef stock
  • Brined Beef Cheeks
  • tbsp canola oil
  • fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
  • shallot, minced
  • /2 avocado, diced
  • whole lime, cut into quarters
  • warmed flour tortillas
Instructions
  1. Make your brine by adding everything but the beef cheeks to a stock pot. Bring to a simmer, stirring along the ways, ensuring you dissolve the salt and sugar. Once dissolved, remove from the heat, and let it cool.
  2. Add the beef cheeks to a large sealable bag and pour in the cooled brine. Seal and place in the refrigerator overnight.
  3. The following day, pour out the brine, and add the beef cheeks to a large saute pan or dutch oven. Add about 2 cups of water or beef stock, bring to medium heat, cover, and cook for about 3 hours. Reduce the heat to a medium-low once it comes to a boil.
  4. After 3 hours, remove the beef cheeks onto a plate, and let them cool. Once cooled, slice and then chop the cheeks.
  5. When you are about ready to serve, heat a large skillet on medium-high heat and add in the oil. Add as much beef cheeks as you want, and cook until those beef cheeks get a nice sear on them. You want to get that great crispiness on it.
  6. When you are ready to serve, add the beef cheeks to a warm and toasted tortilla, top with fresh cilantro, minced shallot, a bit of avocado and a squeeze of lime juice. Repeat.

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Shrimp Larb – ‘Larb Goong’

I will tell you that one of my favorite flavor combinations has to be that of the flavors of any Thai larb, or what some refer to as laap. Someone from Thailand, or from the Thai culture please chime in and let me know which it is, larb or laap. Please. I typically make pork or chicken larb as my kids totally love picking up the minced meat mixture with sticky rice, or placing it in lettuce wraps, but you can definitely go way beyond pork or chicken, and recently I decided to go with shrimp.

Shrimp Larb Recipe

I’ve had larb with raw, minced beef (which was a bit of a shock but delicious), as well as cooked beef, and I will admit, however you want your larb, trust me, they are all freaking delicious. I say this because the fresh herbs and dressing that mixes into the larb is really the star of the show. I could just eat that stuff by the spoonful, or simply drizzle onto some rice, and I would be happy.

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

 

  • 8-10 medium sized shrimp, peeled, and deveined
  • 1/2 cup of fresh mint leaves, torn
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1 tbsp palm sugar, or honey
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce, (I like Red Boat, or 3 Crabs brand)
  • 2 tbsp roasted rice powder
  • 1/2 cup of shallot, thinly sliced
  • 2 Thai bird chilies, diced, stems removed
  • Small wedge of green cabbage
  • 8-10 fresh green beans, trimmed
  • Roasted Peanuts
  • Sticky rice, optional
  • Water

Start by adding your shrimp to a skillet. Add in water, enough to come half way up to the shrimp. Bring the heat to a medium, and simmer the shrimp, only cooking until slightly firm, and cooked through. This should only take a few minutes. Once cooked, strain and set the shrimp to a mixing bowl.

To another bowl, make the sauce.

How to make shrimp larb

Add the lime juice, shallot, Thai chilies, palm sugar, and fish sauce. Mix well until the sugar gets dissolved. Once dissolved, taste, and adjust any seasoning if you prefer. You might want a bit more fish sauce, sugar, or lime. The goal is a sweet, sour, spicy. Once you have achieved this, add in the mint, cilantro, and toasted rice powder. Give this a good stir.

Toss in the shrimp, and get ready to plate.

To your serving dish, add the peanuts, cabbage, and green beans. Add the shrimp larb to the other side, and eat by adding a bit to your green cabbage leaves, topping with some green beans for a slight bitter flavor, and eat with the peanuts.

The end result is nothing short of amazing in flavor. It packs the perfect punch in texture, spice, and overall balance, plus it is super fresh and healthy to boot. This is a perfect dish for any party or any day of the week. Hope you enjoy!

 

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Green Enchilada Soup

Are you a fan of enchiladas? I know I am, and whether they be red enchiladas (enchilada rojas), or green enchiladas (enchilada verdes), they are just down right comforting. Typically enchiladas are made by lightly cooking corn tortillas in some oil, then stuffed with chicken, some cheese, and smothered in enchilada sauce, only to be baked until everything is bubbly and cooked through. With that said, I really wanted some enchiladas this past weekend, but did not want to go through the fuss of the oil, folding, etc, and that’s when I decided to turn that whole idea into a soup. Yep, a green enchilada soup. My wife’s favorite soup is probably my chicken tortilla soup, and so I knew she would fall in love with this one.

Green Enchilada Soup

I’ll admit, it is not the prettiest of soups to be serving, but TRUST ME, this soup is awesome. It’s balanced by sweet heat, with tender chicken and crispy tortilla chips, trust me, you will be wanting a second bowl.

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 4 oz can of diced green chilies
  • 19 oz can of green enchilada sauce
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 whole boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/2 tbsp cumin powder
  • 1/2 tbsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tbsp salt, to taste
  • 5 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup masa harina
  • 1 cup of velveeta cheese, cubed
  • shredded monteray jack cheese
  • Crumbled tortilla chips

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Heat an oven ready,  large skillet on medium heat. Add 2 tablespoons of the canola oil and swirl it around in the pan. Season the chicken breasts with the cumin, chili powder, and salt.

Add the chicken to the skillet, and brown on both sides.

Once browned, place the skillet in the oven for about 15 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through. Carefully remove the skillet from the oven, and let the chicken cool. Once cooled, cut into bite-sized cubes.

How to make green enchilada soup

To another skillet, heat the additional canola oil on medium heat. Add the onions and garlic, and cook for about 5 minutes, or until the onions begin to sweat.

To a medium to large pot, add the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Add the cooked chicken, the onions, garlic, enchilada sauce, and green chilies.

To a bowl, add the masa harina and 1 cup of stock. Stir to combine the masa and then pour it into the soup. Give a good stir, then add in the Velveeta. Stir, and reduce the heat, cooking for about 20 minutes.

When you are ready to serve, ladle the soup into a bowl and top with crushed tortilla chips and shredded monteray jack cheese.

The end result is everything you would expect in a traditional enchilada verdes, but in soup form, and I hate to say it, but the soup form is pretty darn delicious! Hope you enjoy!

Green Enchilada Soup
Author: 
Recipe type: Soup
Cuisine: Mexican
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
 
Ingredients
  • 4 oz can of diced green chilies
  • 19 oz can of green enchilada sauce
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 whole boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • ½ tbsp cumin powder
  • ½ tbsp chili powder
  • ½ tbsp salt, to taste
  • 5 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup of velveeta cheese, cubed
  • shredded monteray jack cheese
  • Crumbled tortilla chips
Instructions
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degress.
  2. Heat an oven ready, large skillet on medium heat. Add 2 tablespoons of the canola oil and swirl it around in the pan. Season the chicken breasts with the cumin, chili powder, and salt.
  3. Add the chicken to the skillet, and brown on both sides.
  4. Once browned, place the skillet in the oven for about 15 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through. Carefully remove the skillet from the oven, and let the chicken cool. Once cooled, cut into bite-sized cubes.
  5. To another skillet, heat the additional canola oil on medium heat. Add the onions and garlic, and cook for about 5 minutes, or until the onions begin to sweat.
  6. To a medium to large pot, add the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Add the cooked chicken, the onions, garlic, enchilada sauce, and green chilies.
  7. To a bowl, add the masa harina and 1 cup of stock. Stir to combine the masa and then pour it into the soup. Give a good stir, then add in the Velveeta. Stir, and reduce the heat, cooking for about 20 minutes.
  8. When you are ready to serve, ladle the soup into a bowl and top with crushed tortilla chips and shredded monteray jack cheese.
  9. The end result is everything you would expect in a traditional enchilada verdes, but in soup form, and I hate to say it, but the soup form is pretty darn delicious! Hope you enjoy!

 

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