Wednesday, September 30, 2015

True Confession: Why I Will Never Be The Next Food Network Star - Quick Scotch Eggs and Quicker Chicken Noodle Soup

My father used to say I had two speeds: slow and stop. True dat. I never liked to rush. I have no need for speed. I suppose you could say I was born punctuality-challenged, like Bill Clinton.  I have a problem with time zones, existing neither in Eastern, Atlantic, nor Central Standard. I'm in something I like to call Dawson Standard and we'll just leave it at that.

Now that's not to say I can't move faster, because I can.  Push me into Trial Prep Mode, and watch me rock and roll. I develop hyperdrive and tunnel vision all at once and what has to get done gets done. Then I go home and collapse.

I realize that I cook the way other people engage in their favorite hobby. There is no hurry, just the steady pace of enjoyment, like when I am knitting. It would seem to me that picking the Next Food Network Star should be more about quality and less about running around like the proverbial headless chicken, but on the other hand, watching an old lady leisurely prepare comfort food is probably not Good TV.  

When we designed the new kitchen for this house, it was done with a careful eye to minimize unwanted steps.  Although I have long, unbroken expanses of countertop on which to work, the layout is so efficient that it naturally flows from prep to cooktop or stove. Completely opposite to that are the studio kitchens, where I might as well just strap on a pair of old-fashioned four-wheel roller skates and spin my prayer wheel.  I could never keep up with all the crazy contestants running amok with 14-inch super sharp chef's knives in their sweaty hands, shoving each other out of the way to grab the last pound of butter.

And that, dear blog peeps, is why I will never be the Next Food Network Star. The only reason. Uh huh.

So today is Saturday, and I took my sweet time preparing some chicken noodle soup and finishing the Scotch eggs.  So no new recipes, except I changed what I did the last time.  Big surprise.

For the soup, I sautéed two carrots, one stalk of celery, and a bunch of green onions, in some olive oil. Threw in some dried oregano, dried thyme, a couple of chopped garlic cloves, two small bay leaves, some salt and pepper, and after a little while added the breast of a rotisserie chicken, which I chopped pretty small. Once the carrots were softened, I poured in 6 cups of chicken stock and 2 cups of water, and over medium high heat, brought the soup up to almost a boil. Then I added about a cup of very fine short pasta, the type you find in a small bag in the Hispanic foods section.  They will cook in about 4 minutes.  Shut off the heat and enjoy. I filled up two 1-quart plastic containers, the type in which you get your take-out wonton soup, one for the freezer and one for the fridge. I'm in soup heaven.

The Scotch eggs are basically the same recipe, but I took a few shortcuts which proved to be very successful. First, I bought a bag of hard-boiled eggs.  I like Eggland's Best when I can find them. Then, while I was in Walmart, I bought a package of Italian-style sausage meatballs. Twelve meatballs to a 12 ounce package.  Ha, this is the kind of math I can do!

I used 2 of the sausage meatballs to cover each egg, then set them in one of the ubiquitous aluminum baking pans, and then floured them by shaking Wondra flour over and around each egg.  Next I broke two eggs into a ziploc freezer bag, and informally beat the eggs. In another freezer bag I put the Italian bread crumbs. Finally I heated canola oil in a medium pot, enough to cover two or three eggs at a time.

That freezer bag thing is my newest favorite kitchen hack. First I put two of the floured Scotch eggs into the bag with the eggs, zipped it shut and gently worked the eggs around so they are covered with egg, Next I used a small slotted spoon to move each egg into the bag with the crumbs and gently rolled them around until each egg is neatly and completely covered.  Only then did I use my hand to move them into the hot oil.  Fry, fry, my darlings - NO CLUB HAND! You will break out in a happy dance, I guarantee.

They will need to be fried until the crumbs are a deep dark brown to ensure the sausage is cooked all the way through. Cut them in half to serve, hot, cold, room temp, whatever.  I first enjoyed Scotch eggs accompanied by a big whipped cream topped Irish coffee at the English pub in EPCOT, but these days my drinking is limited to black coffee and Crystal Light. Between the dairy and the booze, an Irish coffee would probably put me into a coma, or at the very least, a painful stupor. Crap. Whoever it was who said that these were the Golden Years needs to be beaten - with my crutch.

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