Smoke In The Water

Speaking of essentials–like the pressure cooker mentioned previously–it’s hard to beat having a few containers of smoked chicken stock on hand in the freezer. As much as I love smoked chicken (and mine enjoys a pretty good reputation in these parts) I almost love the stock more. It’s like liquid barbecue, yet weightless and fat-free, so it has an Ali-esque butterfly/bee dichotomy going on. It’s mighty for cooking beans, stews, gravy, or anything else that enjoys a good smoky note, and in a pinch it’s superb as a noodle soup base with a little or a lot added on top.

This version had some good salmon that I crisped up nicely on the skin side and then flipped to finish in a mixture of soy, maple syrup, and vinegar so it took on a shiny, tasty glaze. I sliced up the fillet into these pieces before cooking, so the ratio of crisp, glazed outside to tender inside would be a perfect contrast to the soft, slurpy noodles. The greens are “perpetual spinach” chard that I blanched in the noodle water just before serving. The noodles are organic udon. I added some soy sauce to the stock, and had heated it up with a smashed thumb of ginger and clove of garlic in the pot.

On cooler evenings, especially those where one does not have the luxury of ample prep time, a sexy, smoky stock like this makes the difference between fail and win. I think I threw some scallions and cilantro on top after I shot the picture, but I might not have. It didn’t matter; this soup was just a big bowl of awesome and it made us all very quiet and grateful the way dinner should.

This could have just as easily been a risotto, a minestrone, or polenta and it would have been every bit as good. The rich smoky flavor and primal chicken soup goodness provide the Midas touch to all they encounter: deeply nourishing and decadently sensual at the same time. Smoke chickens. Make stock. Win dinner.

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  1. September 27

    Ah…a post about smoked chicken stock, without the instructions on how to achieve a smoke flavor to your standard stock? 🙂 For shame.

  2. Peter
    September 27

    Well, it’s not exactly a recipe: you need to smoke the chicken, eat it, and then make stock from the carcass. If you don’t have a smoker, grill it. It’s almost as good.

  3. September 27

    I don’t have a smoker and bbq’s are illegal on fire escapes (I think!) but the udon noodles look like they’d work well in a traditional chicken stock!

  4. September 27

    Have you tried cold-smoking plain chicken stock?

  5. Your description of the smoky stock “ liquid barbecue, yet weightless and fat-free, so it has an Ali-esque butterfly/bee dichotomy going on..” was absolutely beautiful!!

    May I suggest, in lack of a smoker, smoked chicken or liquid smoke (is that any good?) to add smoked peppers to the stock-making process?!? They will donate their smokyness and give the stock a sightly tingly feeling on the tongue.


    making pressure cooking hip, one recipe at a time!

  6. Peter
    September 28

    Nicole: They would. Maybe a neighbor has a grill.

    David: No, but since we both have smokers, why would we?

    Laura: Anything smoked would add flavor, for sure. I’m not sure I’d use liquid smoke, though.

  7. September 28

    I always have chicken stock, I rarely have smoked chicken. It would be easier for me to cold-smoke some chicken stock than to cook a smoked chicken to turn into stock.

  8. Peter
    September 28

    Then I suppose you could hook a smoking gun up to a tube and bubble it through the stock.

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