Ultimate Lentil Soup

Forget it, I'm going to keep making and posting soup recipes until this stupid weather breaks or I die.  Whichever comes first. Slow Cooker Revolution is on a roll with what it touts as "Ultimate Lentil Soup."  I don't really like lentil soup.  I don't hate it but it's not my go-to.  Jeeps loves it though, and he's been killing himself shoveling snow so I wanted to make it for him.  It didn't hurt that the recipe called for bacon and mushrooms.

Well, friends, to cut to the chase: this soup is tits.  Unbelievable flavor.  I snuck in a can of black beans toward the end and the country-style texture of beans and lentils rocks.  The mushrooms are killer.  The chard is a treat.  Bacon makes it all sexy.  I stirred some frozen sweet corn into the kids' bowls to cool it off.  And they ate it. 

As my friend Art said, "This is not your mother's lentil soup."

Lentil Soup
Lentil Soup

Ultimate Not-Your-Mother's Lentil Soup

  • 2 onions, minced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/2 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 4-5 slices bacon
  • 3-5 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2" pieces
  • 2-3 large portobello mushroom caps, gills removed and cut into 1/2" pieces (the gills scrape right out with a spoon.  You do this to keep the soup from getting muddy)
  • 1 cup brown lentils, picked over and rinsed
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 8 ounces Swiss chard, stemmed and leaves cut 1/2" thick

Microwave onions, garlic, oil, tomato paste, porcini mushrooms and thyme in bowl, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes.  Transfer to slow cooker.

Stir chicken broth, vegetable broth, bacon, carrots, portobello mushrooms, lentils and bay leaves into slow cooker.  Cover and cook on high 5-7 hours or low 9-11 hours, until lentils are tender.

Stir in black beans and chard, cover and cook on high until chard is tender, 20-30 minutes.  Discard bacon and bay leaves.  Serve.

Sicilian Chick Pea Soup

The soup itself is Sicilian, not the chick peas. Most Italian soups feature cannellini beans but in Sicily, chick peas are the favored legume. The recipe comes from the Slow Cooker Revolution cookbook, Volume 2. You can make it in 7 hours in the slow cooker, or in 45 minutes on the stove top. It's not very attractive, but it's yum. It features fennel, garlic, oregano and red pepper. It also calls for anchovies, which I did not use, and escarole, which I did not have.

Stove Top Version

  • 2 fennel bulbs, cored and chopped
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp dried red pepper flakes
  • 2 8-oz cans chick peas, dried and rinsed
  • 7 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 head escarole, chopped coarse, or 1/2 bag of frozen spinach

Heat olive oil in soup pot or dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add fennel and saute 7-8 minutes. I found the soup very savory and kept looking for a sweet note.   think if you really get the fennel caramelized it will bring that sweetness.

Add garlic, oregano and red pepper flakes, saute another 2-3 minutes.

Add chick peas and chicken broth. Cover and simmer 20-30 minutes. Add spinach or escarole and cook until wilted, another 15 minutes.

Serve with a glug of olive oil and a big dollop of parmesan cheese

Slow Cooker Version

  • 2 fennel bulbs, cored and chopped
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp dried red pepper flakes
  • 2 anchovy fillets, rinsed and minced
  • 8 oz dried chick peas
  • 7 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 head escarole, chopped coarse, or 1/2 bag of frozen spinach

Microwave fennel, oil, garlic, oregano, anchovies and papper flakes in bowl, stirring occasionally, until fennel is softened, about 5 minutes. Transfer to slow cooker. Stir in chick peas and broth. Cover and cook until chick peas are tender—10 to 11 hours on low or 7 to 8 hours on high.

Stir in escarole or spinach, cover and cook another 15 minutes.

Serve with olive oil and parmesan.

Coffee-Cocoa Rubbed Brisket

So this happened because whenever we go down to Maryland to visit my seester, I end up hanging out with my brother-in-law watching a lot of TV. One night he let me control the remote and we ended up watching like seven back-to-back episodes of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives which, after Chopped, is like my favorite Food Network show ever.

I love me some Guy Fieri, now there's a man who loves food. I totally want him to come hang out in my kitchen and just make those mouthgasm noises. My BIL did comment that a lot of the food didn't look that good, and furthermore, it didn't seem like food I would eat. Guy certainly makes it sound amazing, but who knows how it actually is in person.

Anyway, one episode featured the restaurant Momocho in Cleveland, and the chef featured his specialty: coffee-rubbed brisket. It was slow cooked for hours, then shredded and served in a tortilla with onions and peppers.

This definitely had possibilities. Tacos and burritos are a sure thing around here and this meat looked really spectacular. Furthermore it could be made in the slow cooker.

I remembered an episode of Chopped where the secret ingredient was ostrich. One chef rolled it in cocoa powder before searing it. I thought about doing this with the brisket because when I make chili, I always throw in a square of baker's chocolate. Yet the coffee rub sounded interesting, too. Could I do both?

Of course I could.

I scouted around the Internet, compared and contrasted, and in the end, came up with this. And it was crazy.

Coffee-Cocoa Rubbed Brisket

  • 2 tbsp coffee
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp salt (the brisket, I confess, came out just a tad salty so I'm taking it down to a teaspoon, you can add more later if it needs it)
  • 1 can coconut milk

Mix all the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Cut the brisket into two pieces, rub all over with either olive oil or coconut oil and then roll it in the dry rub, really getting it coated. Your hands will be a mess. It's OK, just keep packing on the rub. Get the brisket into a ziplock bag and let it sit for either 2 hours or overnight.

Pour the can of coconut milk into the slow cooker. Put the brisket in, cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours.

Take the brisket out, skim the fat off the gravy. Shred the meat with two forks and put back into the cooker.

Serve over coconut rice, or in a soft tortilla, with onions and peppers.


Arroz con Pollo (y Lágrimas)

I wanted this dish to be great. This should have been great and it was so not great. Now I'm depressed.

I did it for Redman. He loves Mexican food, he loves rice and beans, he loves chicken. And I love that little boy to pieces, I don't need to explain to anyone here, this is not about sons, this is about dinner. I thought why don't I make this kid arroz con pollo? He'll love it. And I'll make it in the slow cooker, this will be a snap. A slam-dunk.

Hah, it was more like a brick.

It's my fault. I didn't think. What's going to happen when you put rice in the slow cooker for six hours, huh, smarty-pants?

Nothing attractive, I'll tell you that. It tasted all right, and Jeeps and I ate it, but the kids couldn't get past the look of it. Panda managed a few polite bites.  Redman looked at the dish and asked where the rice was. And he was right to.  It tasted fine, but, there's no nice way to say it except it looked like puke. When your dish comes out looking like barf, there's no way to rescue it. 

Even today I dissolved some of it in a lot of chicken broth and tarted it up with lime juice and cilantro, thinking it could pass for a Mexican soup.

It didn't pass.

So live and learn, y'all: NO RICE IN THE SLOW COOKER!!! 

Let me beat myself with a wire hanger and repeat that. 


I will give you the recipe now, verbatim, but note well that you should make yellow rice and peas separately, on the side, and then serve the slow-cooked chicken over the rice and it will be beautiful. A slam-dunk.

Pollo Sin Arroz

  • 1 pinch saffron threads
  • Chopped cilantro or scallions
  • Frozen peas
  • Salt and pepper
  • 8 skinless chicken thighs
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 1 28-oz can tomatoes, drained
  • 1 tbsp dried parsley
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 1/2 cups rice
  • 2 bell peppers, any color, chopped (I used red and yellow)
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 large red onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons boiling water

Put the saffron in a small dish and pour the boiling water over. Set aside.

Season chicken with salt and pepper, set aside.

Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Saute the onon, garlic, pepper for five minutes. Add the rice and stir until well coated. Add the herbs and tomatoes (if using whole tomatoes, break them up). Empty all the vegetables and rice into the slow cooker.

Working in batches, brown the chicken on both sides and add to the slow cooker.

Pour the broth and reserved saffron over all. Cover and cook 6 hours on high heat. For the last 30 minutes, stir in the frozen peas.

Garnish with cilantro or scallions if desired.



And no, I'm not going to show you what it looked like. Let's just pretend it looked like this:

Bok Choy with Asian-style Ribs

I've been on a mission to try bok choy for some time now, and a few stir-fry recipes from Fast, Fresh & Green have clinched the deal.  But Susie Middleton really threw down the gauntlet when she added as a blithe aside, "these would be good with some oven-roasted boneless pork ribs."


Asian-style boneless pork ribs.  In the slow-cooker.  Did such a thing exist?

Consult the Oracle.  Of course it exists.  My searchings led me to the blog Choosy Beggars, and this awesome post about boneless Asian BBQ beef ribs.   She used beef, I figured it would work just as well for pork.  I'm not going to transpose it here, because hers is so well-written, being both about ribs and about slow cookers in general.  Just know I followed the recipe to the letter (and yes, there was a special shopping trip involved for things like oyster sauce, Chinese 5-spice powder, etc), and I'll give you a few impressions here:

1) The recipe calls for a grated onion.  I know.  You just have to suck it up and do.  I've heard all kinds of tricks for keeping tears at bay while working with onions; frankly the only thing that is a surefire thing for me is having my contact lenses in.  No such luck so last night I had to try the remedy of chewing gum as I grated.  Not much help.  It was a sobby business.

2) The sauce smells amazing.  I put it all together last night in a tupperware container and the smell lingered around the kitchen for a while.

3) Ribs in cooker.  Sauce on top.  10 hours.  That's the extent of it.  At the end, you will need to skim quite a bit of fat off the top.

4) I didn't love them.  I know, bummer, huh?  They smelled amazing, they looked divine, they cozied up beautifully to the bok choy over rice, they were thoroughly enjoyable.  But I didn't love them.  Maybe I'd love them if they were beef ribs but somehow I don't think so.

I did, however LOVE the bok choy.  That and the rice I could eat over and over again.  So that said, here is the real star of the show...

Stir-Fried Baby Bok Choy with Golden Garlic and Silky Sauce

(I added some halved baby carrots to this recipe just so there would be something for the kiddies to fall back on)

  • 12 oz baby bok choy (4-5 heads that are 6-7" long)
  • 1 tbsp oyster sauce (one of the specialties I had to go get, it was in both this and the rib sauce)
  • 1 tbsp low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 tsp cornstarch
  • 2 tbsp peanut oil (and again, had to seek that out.  Wow, does peanut oil smell good!)
  • 2 large garlic cloves, sliced very thinly crosswise
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt

Cut the bok choy lengthwise into quarters.  Wash them well by swishing them in a bowl of tepid water, and spin them dry (I shook mine dry, I didn't feel like breaking out the spinner).

In a small bowl, combine the oyster sauce, broth and cornstarch

In a large, non-stick stir fry pan, heat the peanut oil over medium heat.  When the oil is hot, add the garlic slices and break them up.  Cook, stirring, just until fragrant, about 30 seconds (it smells awesome!)  Add the bok choy to the pan.  Season with the salt and turn the heat up to high.  Using tongs, toss the bok choy with the oil to coat and to distribute the garlic slices.

Cook, rotating and turning the bok choy with the tongs and spreading it out so that all of the stems have some contact with the pan as they cook, and so that the garlic doesn't all gather on the bottom of the pan, until all of the bok choy stems are browned in parts (9 to 12 minutes).

Remove the pan from the heat and, using a silicone spatula, immediately stir the sauce as you pour it into the pan.  As soon as the sauce thickens and begins to coat the vegetables, transfer to the bok choy and the sauce to a serving dish.

Delicious.  The bok choy was crisp and savory, perfect with the sweetness of the carrots, and the sauce is indeed silky.  Really loved this dish.

Slow-dance Chicken

I started writing "Slow-Cooked Chicken" but I guess I had something on my mind because it came out slow-dance. Anyway. I've had this recipe dog-eared for a while because it struck me as what the disastrous maiden voyage of David Crockpott was SUPPOSED to have been: an attractive dish of tender chicken and vegetables. 

Key word: attractive.

So I made it tonight. This is how it looks in the book photograph:

This is how it came out on my plate:

I'm just being honest here, guys! All my chicken slid off the bone and when slow-cooked chicken slides off the bone, it shreds. Especially the white meat. So while it was totally delicious, it obviously didn't have the same eye appeal as the book picture. But I can live with that because it really was delicious.

As Val said in A Chorus Line: "Dance: 10. Looks: 3."

Slow-Cooked Chicken Dinner

  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup All-Purpose Spice Rub (see below)
  • 1 roasting chicken, about 7lbs, or equal amount cut-up chicken
  • 1 1/2 pounds golden or red-skin potatoes, quartered (I used the red and the skins turned a very depressing color. You may as well use golden)
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
  • 1 large onion, cut into chunks
  • 24 baby-cut carrots (I used 30. Ha!)
  • 4 celery ribs, cut into 3/4" lengths (Use a ruler. Ha!)
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 3 tablespoons instant mashed potato flakes (stay with me, you'll see. It's genius)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

All-Purpose Spice Rub (Mix all in a small bowl)

  • 2 tsbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp dry mustard
  • 1 tsp ground dried sage
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper.

Boil the potatoes in several quarts of salted water for 5 minutes. Drain and place in the slow cooker.

Mix the flour and spice rub in a medium mixing bowl. If using whole chicken, cut into 6 pieces and remove skin from all except for wings. Remove wing tips.  Dredge chicken pieces in the flour mixture until thoroughly coated. Pat off the excess flour and reserve the flour mixture.

Heat half the oil in a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Brown the chicken on both sides, working in batches, about 4 minutes a side. Transfer to a plate and set aside.

Add the remaining oil to the skillet. Add the onion, carrot, and celery and saute until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add the reserved seasoned flour and stir until vegetables are coated. Add the wine and bring to a boil. Add the chicken broth and simmer until slightly thickened. Pour into the cooker. Arrange first dark meat pieces, then white meat on top of the vegetables. Cover and cook for 3 to 4 hours on high, or 5 to 6 hours on low.

Remove chicken to a serving platter and surround with the vegetables. Turn the cooker up to high, stir in the instant mashed potato flakes, and continue stirring until gravy thickens. Stir in the parsley and spoon over the chicken.

I served it over polenta which was very reminiscent of my mother's baked chicken with polenta from my childhood. 

If you want my Gravy, Pepper my Ragu....

If you want my gravy, pepper my ragu.Spice it up for Mama....she’ll get hot for you.
— Matron Mama Morton: Chicago, Kander & Ebb

So Frank is doing well and on the mend and, frankly, she is amazing. So was her refrigerator the first week after her surgery. You opened the door and the Hallelujah chorus played. But of course: when someone we love is in need of comfort or sustenance, or in the midst of healing, what do we do? We bring food.

When I miscarried a baby in 2002, my parents were there in an hour with a pot of chicken soup. Frank came a day later with hot chicken sandwiches from Boston Market. Chicken is a no-brainer for comfort. Someone in trouble? Broken heart? Troubled soul? Stuffy nose? I must roast a chicken.

When I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in 2003 (it was a bad couple of years, don't ask) my friend Becky showed up at my kitchen door with pyrex containers filled with barbecued chicken, potato salad and brownies. This combination of foods might mean "picnic" to most people, but to me, they will always be Becky and her firm, clear loyalty and love, at my kitchen door in my time of need.

For healing properties, however, you must go with slightly heartier stuff. I made my turkey meatballs for Frank, two ways: medium-sized ones plain, and tiny ones in wedding soup. I brought that over with some grilled vegetables and a loaf of ciabatta. This all paled in comparison to what her neighbor had bestowed earlier in the day: mozzarella-stuffed meatballs in gravy.


Now when I say gravy, I don't mean the sauce for roast chicken or pot roast. I mean gravy like the Italians mean it on Sundays. Ragù if you want to get technical, but it's gravy.


Frank's husband and I have been talking about and trying to dissect this completely amazing gravy for ten days now. And no, the recipe is not simply given out to the mere mortals. I've been scouring recipes in the slow-cooker books I own and searching online to try and replicate the holy and wholly secret gravy of Frank's neighbor. It had layers of meat in it: chicken and short ribs and possibly sausage, suspended in rich tomato sauce. Possibly it had crack in it as well, I'm just saying.

So what I ended up with is a mongrel recipe that picked and chose between recipes I found online, and a ragù from my slow-cooker book. It's still open to interpretation and tweaking, and I don't know if you could call it authentic. But it tasted pretty damn good, therefore I will call it mine.

Mongrel Ragù

(And you must sing "ragù" in the style of old Yahoo commercials:  Ragùuuuuuuuuuuuuu-hù!!)

  • 1 pound sweet Italian sausage
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 pound steak tips cut into 1/2" pieces (or short ribs, trimmed, which I didn't have but would have used)
  • 2 onions , chopped medium
  • 2 carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 2 celery ribs, sliced
  • 12 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 6-oz can tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 1 28-oz can diced tomatoes, with juice
  • 1 15-oz can tomato sauce
  • 2 cups chicken or beef broth or tomato juice
  • 2 tablespoons each chopped fresh basil and parsley

Heat 2 tsp olive oil in heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Squeeze sausage out of its casings and brown well in skillet, breaking up with the side of a wooden spoon. I don't know why, but I find breaking up sausage with the side of my wooden spoon to be an extremely tedious chore. Remove sausage to paper-towels to drain, then place in slow cooker.

In the rendered sausage fat, brown the chicken thighs 3-4 minutes each side.  Add to slow cooker.

Season steak tips with salt and pepper, then brown in the skillet in batches. Don't crowd the pan or it will steam the meat, not brown it. Put meat in slow cooker.

Deglaze the pan with the red wine, scraping up bits from the bottom with the wooden spoon (which I never find to be a tedious chore). Pour wine over meat in cooker.

Add another tablespooon olive oil to skillet and heat. Saute onion, garlic, celery, carrot, oregano, and rosemary until vegetables lose their raw look, about 3-4 minutes. Add can of tomato paste and stir until vegetables are coated well. Cook another 2-3 minutes and then add to slow cooker on top of the meat.

Add tomatoes, tomato sauce, and broth (or tomato juice) to cooker.

Cover and set to Low for 8 to 10 hours. Then walk away. Just walk away. You want the longest cooking time you can: mine went from 1PM to 10PM and it was a beautiful thing.

Before serving, skim fat off surface, and stir in chopped parsley and basil. Serve over pasta or polenta, or just eat a bowlful by itself. That's what I did for lunch.

Yum. Oh very very yum. Yes indeed. Can we get in closer, please?

Thank you.

Conference Crock

Conference Crock (n): Assembling a dish in the slow cooker while on a conference call.
Mutation (n):  Repeatedly checking the mute button on your phone while you assemble a conference crock.

This is a mongrel recipe of my own devices, and a few ideas off the internet. I had half an hour to throw it together and as a result, I took no pictures during the prep. You just get the money shot.

Mongrel Beef Stew

  • 2 lbs boneless chuck steak, cut into 1/2" pieces
  • 1 packet Lipton onion soup mix
  • 4-5 carrots, diced
  • 10-12 mushrooms, stemmed and quartered
  • 1/2 bag of frozen pearl onions
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 1/2 bag frozen peas

Heat olive oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Put flour in ziplock bag. Add half the meat pieces, shake to coat, and put into skillet. Cook until browned on all sides then put meat in slow cooker. Brown other half of meat the same way. Deglaze the pan with the red wine, scraping the bits up, then pour wine into slow cooker.

Put carrots, mushrooms, onions and tomato paste into slow cooker. If you have time you can give the mushrooms a quick saute but it's not necessary. Pour the onion soup mix over all. Add water and cover.

I didn't start this until 1 in the afternoon so I put David on high for 3 hours, then turned it to low. If you are starting earlier, just put it on low for 6-8 hours. I stirred every now and then and added another cup of red wine when I felt it was too thick. You could also just add plain water, the onion soup mix has enough flavor of its own and in fact, I wouldn't use beef broth because the soup mix is on the salty side. I didn't season the meat with salt and pepper for this reason.

Before serving, stir in the frozen peas and cover cooker again until heated through.

Serve with pasta, egg noodles or mashed potatoes.

David Crockpott is redeemed

Remember Dave's disastrous maiden voyage?  Believe it or not, I haven't let him into my kitchen since.  But the other weekend when my neeces were visiting (my neeces of course are the twin daughters of my seester), I wanted something ready for dinner when they arrived.

Dave, rise and come forth.

So this isn't a new recipe for pulled pork, it is exactly the same sauce and method as I made with Madame, but wow, the ten hours of cooking time certainly does make a difference.

Serve on potato rolls with bread-and-butter pickles, cole slaw and sweet potato fries.


The Misadventures of David Crockpott

I know, I know, this thing with naming my appliances is truly weird. But after three days in the box, Dave has been broken out and put to use. What was the flagship dish?

Slow-Cooked Chicken and Vegetables, à la I Have No Freakin' Clue

I picked this dish because 1) I had all this chicken left over from when I'd made chicken chili on Sunday; and 2) I had found this selection of totally adorable baby carrots at DeCicco's. I mean, look at them, aren't they swell? 

I'm something of a carrot connoisseur. I grow tons of them in my garden and in all different colors. I was thrilled to find these. DeCicco's so has my number.

Besides the carrots, I had in the fridge some dubious-looking celery (is there any other kind?) and portobello mushrooms. In the pantry was a head of garlic and half a bag of Trader Joe's red, white and blue baby potatoes. In the freezer was a bag of Birds Eye pearl onions. I was in business.

I took a break from working around 10 and got busy.  I prepped all the veggies and fed them to Dave first - half the bag of onions, followed by celery sliced on the diagnol, leaves and all. Mushrooms and potatoes washed and quartered.  Carrots trimmed and peeled. You'll see from the picture that purple carrots are purple through-and-through, while red carrots are only red on the surface; once peeled, they will be orange so either scrub them lightly, or leave a little skin in places to get the effect.

My plan was to add a half cup of white wine and then use chicken broth to just cover the veggies.  But shame on me, no white wine in the house. So I added the juice from one lemon, and then topped it up with broth. I put some thyme and rosemary stems on top, and then sliced 4 cloves of garlic and scattered those on top too.

Then the chicken.  I had boneless, skinless breast and thigh pieces.  I put the thighs on top of the veggies as is, then quartered each breast and put that in. Then I hesitated...something was needed here...I was totally flying blind, making it up. Salt and pepper, OK, some of each. And...garlic powder?  Paprika? I already had sliced garlic down in the veggies, I didn't want to overdo it. In the end I just tapped the garlic powder and paprika bottles over the chicken, just a light dusting.

(This doesn't end well)

The cover went on, Dave got plugged in. I hit the HIGH setting for 6 hours.  Wait, that can't possibly be right. I did some quick consulting online, and selected LOW for 8 hours instead. Done, done and done. 20 minutes of prep time. I poured another cup of coffee, left the kitchen and went back to work.

I was consumed with curiosity and kept creeping upstairs to see what Dave was doing. After the fourth time, he patiently and politely told me to get lost.

What, your small appliances don't talk to you? Odd...

I managed to get lost for two whole hours, then I went upstairs to poke in there with a wooden spoon. First thing I noticed was a very intense rosemary smell, followed by the observation that the cooking liquid had not only risen considerably, but had turned purple from the carrots. I put the cover back and retreated.

Four hours into cooking, I ventured up again to peek. Not looking good. At all. Quite possibly the most unattractive thing I had ever produced in a kitchen to date. Clearly Dave hated me. Or Wolfie, in a jealous rage, had sabotaged things.

The broth looked like squid ink. The chicken pieces looked dried out. My sweet baby carrots were completely leached of color and the potatoes and mushrooms looked decidedly ill.  The dish looked ill. I was going to be ill. I would have to create a new blog category called "Kitchen Disasters" and this was going to be the first tag. I fled the kitchen, an abject failure.

(I've been taking drama lessons from Pandagirl)

I regrouped and decided that no matter what, the chicken would be salvageable. It would've been poached for eight hours in broth, veggies and aromatics, it ought to be edible, for crying out loud.

At 5:00 I declared it done and pulled the plug.

"What is that?" cried Panda with all the charming couth that ten-year-olds naturally possess.



"Army slop," I replied, and fished a piece of dark meat chicken out to taste.  It tasted wonderful. I fished a piece of white meat out. It was slightly less wonderful, but not bad. It didn't taste bad, it just looked bad. In 8 hours I had achieved tender, flavorful meat, pallid vegetables, and some killer, purplish broth.

"Are you going to blog this?" Panda asked.

"I am not only going to blog this," I answered, "I am going to save this."

I started sorting the crockpot. 

(That's the weirdest sentence I ever typed.) 

I picked out the thyme and rosemary stems. I put the chicken in one dish, all the veggies in another. I strained the broth into a clean soup pot. I put it on a medium-low flame, then peeled and sliced six new, normal orange carrots.  When the broth was boiling, the carrots went into the pot along with some of the leftover frozen pearl onions and 1/2 cup of orzo.


When the pasta was cooked and the carrots were tender, I separated three eggs and slid the yolks into the broth (my dad taught me this; he in turn learned it from the days when his mother's kosher chicken came with unfertilized eggs—the ayelekh—still inside the hen). After the yolks poached I put the chicken back in, some dill, some fresh parsley, some peas.

There you have it, the name of this recipe is now changed to:

Eight Hour Purple Chicken Soup.

Serve it with a $5 milkshake. And then go save your street cred by making dessert.