Under Pressure

four member family in bed blowing nosesA number of my friends have proclaimed the coming of the Zombie Apocalypse. Patient Zero began showing symptoms over a week ago and has now infected the rest of their household. Soon, the only thing to do will be large quarantine signs and/or large caliber handguns.

Fortunately, hopefully, this can be remedied before such extreme measures. Under any normal circumstances, this would call for slow-cooked chicken noodle soup. By letting the bird simmer for hours, all that near-magical bone broth goodness can seep into the liquid and fix all manner of wrong up to, and including, zombie head/chest colds. Unfortunately, my day gig is insane this time of year and doesn’t allow for watching a pot of soup for 12 hours. There’s simply not enough hours in the day to get everything done. I want to help, but I’m under too much pressure to…

Too. Much. Pressure…

Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls, Children of ALL Persuasions: I give to you the star of tonight’s feature the pressure cooker.

stainless steel pressure cooker on stove top

Now, I use an old-school style cooker. You know, the kind that every grandma’s neighbor three doors down had that blew up their kitchen AND THEY DIED while using it? (One of my favorite urban myths, by the way. Pressure cookers have redundant pressure release systems. They don’t blow up during any reasonable and normal use.) Nothing against the modern Quik Pot Insta-pot systems. They’re sleek, they’re sexy, and they work like a dream for a huge number of tasks making them a perfect multi-tasker. The only thing they don’t do is go to a high enough pressure for full-on canning like you need to do with low-acid and low sugar foods such as veggies and meats. I do that sort of thing, so I use the older style.

The beauty of cooking with pressure is the temperatures that can be reached allow for MUCH quicker cook times. In canning, we use those higher temps to kill off any possible bacteria that might have snuck into the jar and avoid pesky things like botulism. And one of the main goals of making food is to try not to kill the folks eating it. For cooking, it’s all about the time.

For today’s recipe, Chicken Soup for the Zombie Soul, I cooked a whole-bird chicken in roughly 20 minutes while saving every drop of the stock to make the soup. Compared to normal methods, that puts me about 10 hours 40 minutes ahead of the game. I then took the bones, put them back into the cooker with more water and a bit of salt, and made the bone broth in an additional 15 minutes.

So, in either a traditional pot or an Insta-Pot, give this one a try. Maybe together we can save civilization!

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Chicken Soup for the Zombie Soul

Course Soup
Keyword chicken, soup, winter

Ingredients

For Cooking the Bird

  • 1 whole chicken (roughly 5 - 6 lbs)
  • 3 carrots
  • 3 ribs celery
  • 1/2 white onion
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1/2 tbsp pepper
  • 1 bay leaf

For the Soup

  • 3 cups carrots diced fine
  • 2 cups celery diced fine
  • 1 cup onion diced fine
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 cups potatoes diced
  • 3 - 6 cloves garlic mashed/pressed, grated...make it small
  • 3 cups kale finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 package 16 oz egg noodles
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

Chicken

  • Rinse the chicken, then place it in the center of your pressure cooker. Break the carrots and celery in half and array the pieces around the bird. Rough cut (large chunks) the onion and do the same. Season with salt and pepper. Add the bay leaf and about 2-3 inches of water in the bottom of the pot.
  • Bring the pressure cooker to 15 lbs of pressure and cook for 10 - 15 minutes, then shut off the heat and let the pressure equalize naturally.That’s it. Really. (Side note, don’t panic if the chicken isn’t completely, totally cooked through to the bone. We’re adding it to the soup, so if it isn’t quite there when you pull it out all is good.)

Soup

  • Select your cooking beverage. Tonight, we’re working with Witching Hour Red wine. I’ll be honest, I bought it because of the label and I opened it because it didn’t get opened on Thanksgiving. But, it’s actually a really tasty table wine with enough complexity to be interesting while still remaining drinkable. I’ll be getting more.
  • While the chicken is cooking in the pressure cooker, chop the celery and onion and begin to saute them over low heat in the olive oil. When you begin to hear it sizzle, add a bit of salt (less than 1 tsp). The salt will help draw out more of the sweetness.
  • When the onion is almost translucent, add the finely grated garlic. When the garlic starts to color, add the kale and more salt.
  • By this point, your skillet will begin to become over-full, so transfer to a medium stock pot (though a dutch oven will work wonderfully here as well) and add the potatoes and carrots.
  • Remove the bird from the pressure cooker, place a colander over your stock pot, and transfer all the liquid from the pressure cooker into it. As soon as the bird is cool enough to work with, begin removing the meat from the bones. cut/rip the meat into bite sized bits, and add to the soup.
  • Put the bones back into the pressure cooker. When all the bones are clear of their meat, add another couple of inches of water into the pressure cooker and bring it back to 15 lbs pressure for another 10-15 minutes.
  • Previously, I would break the long bones (leg, thigh, drummette) to make sure I got as much of the healthy marrow out as possible. But now, if I did that Oberon the Wonder Mutt and Sou Chef would lose out on his treat. And I just can’t bring myself to disappoint him.
    Could you?
    Once the bones have been cooked, transfer the resulting broth (through the colander) into your soup, and add the noodles. Give the dog his bone, have a sip or six of wine, and when the noodles are soft you’re ready to enjoy!

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