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Brothy Poached Chicken with Mushrooms and Fresh Chile

My reading (0r lack thereof) of the numerous cooking magazines I get every month is backing up.  I could cancel every subscription and still have plenty to read for a good two years (don’t tell Cooks Illustrated, Saveur, Food & Wine, and Bon Appétit and those are just the major ones).  Therefore, one of my New Year’s resolutions (maybe the only one) is that every month I will cook a recipe from at least one of the magazines.

Ask anyone who knows me and they will tell you I have a tendency to improvise in the kitchen.  That’s what I’ve done here with Alison Roman’s recipe from the January 2015 issue of Bon Appétit.  I picked up the main ingredients at the grocer, but then looked in the pantry and freezer to see what I might add.  If I do say so myself, the results were delicious.

My version:
2 pounds bone-in, organic chicken breasts (about 2 large)
1 head garlic, halved crosswise
1 bay leaf (that’s all I had)
8 whole allspice
3 organic carrots, 1/4-inch, dice
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 medium red onion, cut in half and sliced from “pole to pole”
11 ounces maitake or shiitake mushrooms, sliced (my schrooms came in 5 oz containers, plus I had a few in the fridge)
1 fresh red chile (such as Fresno), thinly sliced
1 1″ piece ginger, peeled, finely chopped
1/2 cup frozen peas (from the freezer)
1/2 cup “sun-dried” tomatoes (from the freezer)
1 tablespoon Pedro Ximenez Vinegar (dry) (I didn’t have any white distilled)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
Freshly ground black pepper
Sliced scallions (for serving)

Why not purchase bone-in chicken breasts?  They are less expensive, take minimal effort to de-bone and said bones add an abundance of flavor to the broth.

Remove bones and tendon from chicken breasts.  Place bones, chicken, garlic, bay leaf, allspice, half the diced carrots, and 1 teaspoon salt in a medium pot.  Cover with 8 cups water (six cups didn’t seem like enough – see recipe below) and bring to a bare simmer over high heat.  Immediately reduce heat to medium-low and cook 8 minutes, skimming off any coagulated protein that forms on the surface (I’ve seen it referred to as scum, but that doesn’t sound very appetizing).  Remove chicken breasts fromthe liquid and let cool slightly.  Then, using two dinner forks shred into bite-size pieces.

While the chicken is cooling, continue simmering the broth for another 10 minutes.  Strain broth through a fine-mesh sieve into a clean bowl; reserving the garlic (which will need to be peeled) and discarding remaining solids.

Return the pan to medium fire and heat the olive oil (yes, the one from which you just poured the broth.  No, it doesn’t have to be washed, unless for some reason you burned something in it).

Sauté the onions for about 2 minutes.  Add mushrooms, chile, ginger, peas, remaining carrots, vinegar, and soy sauce to the broth.  Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until broth tastes to your satisfaction, 8–10 minutes.  Add the soba noodles and cook according to the package directions (my said to cook 5 minutes).  Season with salt and pepper, then add shredded chicken and simmer just until meat is warmed through.

Divide soup among bowls and serve topped with scallions.

Original recipe:
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 3 large)
1 head garlic, halved crosswise
2 bay leaves
4 whole allspice
1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more
8 ounces maitake or shiitake mushrooms, torn into bite-size pieces
1 fresh red chile (such as Fresno), thinly sliced
1 1″ piece ginger, peeled, finely chopped
1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
Freshly ground black pepper
Sliced scallions and cilantro sprigs (for serving)
preparation

Place chicken, garlic, bay leaves, allspice, and 1 1/2 teaspoon salt in a medium pot. Cover with 6 cups water and bring to a bare simmer over high heat. Immediately reduce heat to medium-low, cover pot, and cook 8 minutes. Remove chicken from liquid and let cool slightly, then shred into bite-size pieces.

Strain stock through a fine-mesh sieve into a clean pot; discard solids. Add mushrooms, chile, ginger, vinegar, and soy sauce to stock. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until broth tastes rich and flavorful, 8–10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, then add shredded chicken and simmer just until meat is warmed through.

Divide soup among bowls and serve topped with scallions and cilantro.

Do ahead: Chicken can be poached 2 days ahead. Let chicken and broth cool separately. Wrap up chicken and transfer broth to an airtight container; chill.