Georgian Chicken Soup (Chikhirtma)
Start to finish: 1 hour 45 minutes (45 minutes active)
SIMMERING WHOLE SPICES and fresh herbs in the broth imparted more flavor than the usual method of seasoning and thicken- ing soups (sautéing ground spices in a roux). We liked the hint of heat from red pepper flakes, but they can be left out for a milder version. Browning the carrots and onions before making the roux developed a subtle sweetness and depth that paired well with the tangy soup.
For the broth and chicken:
- 1 bunch fresh cilantro
- 1 bunch fresh dill
- 1 garlic head
- 2½ to 3 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken legs
- 10 cups water
- 1 large yellow onion, peeled and quartered
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
- ½ teaspoon coriander seeds
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
- 3-inch cinnamon stick
- 2 bay leaves
For the soup:
- 1 pound carrots (about 5 medium), peeled, halved lengthwise and cut into ½-inch pieces
- 1 large yellow onion, coarsely chopped (about 1½ cups)
- 3 tablespoons salted butter
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ cup dry vermouth
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 6 large egg yolks
- ¼ cup lemon juice (1 to 2 lemons)
- Ground black pepper
To make the broth, tie the stems of the cilantro and dill into bundles, then trim off the leaves, reserving ¼ cup of each for garnish. Cut off and discard the top third of the garlic head, leaving the head intact. In a large pot, combine both sets of stems, the garlic, the chicken and the remaining broth ingredients. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 45 minutes. Remove and set aside the garlic head. Transfer the chicken to a plate and cool until easily handled. Shred the chicken into bite-size pieces, discarding the skin, bones and cartilage. Set aside.
To make the soup, strain the broth into another pot or bowl, discarding the sol- ids. Using tongs, squeeze the garlic head into the broth; the tender cloves should easily pop out of their skins. Whisk into the broth. Wipe out the empty pot, then add the carrots, onion, butter and salt. Set over medium-high and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is browned, 10 to 12 minutes. Add the vermouth, scraping up any browned bits, and cook until evaporated, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Add 2 cups of the broth and stir until smooth, then add the remaining broth and bring to a simmer.
In a medium bowl, whisk the yolks. Continue whisking while slowly adding 1 cup of hot broth from the pot. Whisk in the lemon juice, then return the mixture to the pot and whisk to combine. Add the chicken and any accumulated juices and cook until just heated through (do not simmer). Taste and season with salt and pepper. Serve with chopped cilantro and dill leaves.
Don’t substitute white chicken meat. Bone-in dark meat is better suited to this recipe. The skin, bones and collagen add flavor and body to the broth, and the dark meat is less apt to dry out.
Fluffy Olive Oil Scrambled Eggs
Start to finish: 10 minutes
WE FOUND THE OIL needed a full 3 minutes at a gentle medium heat to get hot enough to produce the necessary steam when the eggs hit the pan. Higher temperatures cooked the eggs too fast, toughening them. After multiple tests, we settled on 2 tablespoons of oil in the pan, which was enough to coat the bottom of the skillet and flavor the eggs without making them greasy. Mixing the salt into the eggs before cooking was the best way to season them. And while you certainly can add pepper at this point, too, we preferred it ground fresh before serving.
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 8 large eggs
- Kosher salt and ground black pepper
In a 12-inch nonstick or seasoned carbon-steel skillet over medium heat, heat the oil until just beginning to smoke, about 3 minutes. While the oil heats, in a bowl use a fork to whisk the eggs and ¾ teaspoon kosher salt until blended and foamy on top. Pour the eggs into the center of the pan.
Using a rubber spatula, continuously stir the eggs, pushing them toward the middle as they begin to set at the edges and folding the cooked egg over on itself. Cook until the eggs are just set, 60 to 90 seconds. The curds should be shiny, wet and soft, but not translucent or runny. Immediately transfer to warmed plates and season with salt and pepper.
Don’t warm your plates too much. It sounds minor, but hot plates will continue to cook the eggs, making them tough and dry. Cold plates will cool the eggs too fast. The plates should be warm to the touch, but not so hot that you can’t comfortably hold them.
Cracked Potatoes with Vermouth, Coriander and Fennel
Start to finish: 35 minutes (10 minutes active)
WE CRACKED THE coriander and fennel seeds with a mortar and pestle, but using the side of a heavy chef’s knife or cleaver worked, too. Our favorite brand of dry vermouth is Dolin Vermouth de Chambéry. Just be sure to buy dry, not blanc.
- 1½ pounds small Yukon Gold potatoes (1½ to 2 inches in diameter)
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon salted butter
- 2 teaspoons coriander seeds, cracked
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds, cracked
- 1 cup dry vermouth
Using a meat mallet or the bottom of a heavy skillet, whack the potatoes one at a time to crack them until slightly flattened but still intact. In a bowl, toss the potatoes with 1 tablespoon of oil and the salt and pepper.
In a 12-inch stainless steel skillet over medium-high, heat the remaining oil and butter. Add the potatoes in a single layer, reduce heat to medium, then cook without moving until well browned, 6 to 8 minutes. Flip and cook until well browned on the other side, about 5 minutes.
Add the coriander and fennel. Cook, shaking the pan constantly, until fra- grant, about 1 minute. Add the vermouth. Cover and reduce heat to medium-low. Cook until the potatoes are just tender and the liquid has nearly evaporated, 12 to 14 minutes, flipping the potatoes halfway through. Transfer to a serving bowl, scraping the sauce and seeds on top.
Don’t use a skillet with an ill-fitting lid. The pan might scorch. If it looks dry, add water 2 tablespoons at a time.
PHOTO CREDIT: MICHAEL PIAZZA & KRISTEN TEIG