Saturday, November 8, 2008

Food as Medicine or A Chicken in Every Pot

We haven't seen the sun in more than a week...I can't even remember when. It's dark, damp and even though it's been relatively warm in temperature, there is a definite chill in the air that makes me crave warm soup. I like to make stock at least once a week to use as a base for any soup or grain dish. Having frozen chicken stock in the freezer is one of the ways I prepare for the winter months. It's one of the 'medicines' that I prepare for the family to keep us healthy. I have to admit that I actually love the 'food as medicine' philosophy. I love the idea of 'value added' cooking. I love the idea of prevention and keeping the body terrain balanced and well tended. In China, the rural barefoot doctor is paid well to keep the people strong and healthy. When someone actually falls ill, the doctor attends to them, but does not get paid because it is believed he didn't do his job well to begin with. Moral of this story: Prevention is worth it's weight in gold! Anyway, back to the chicken stock. Chicken stock = Gold. Lots of research has finally proven that our grandma's somehow knew what they were talking about when it came to cooking up hot bowls of chicken soup for sick family members. Chicken releases an amino acid called cystiene when simmered in water. Cysteine keeps mucus thin and free flowing in the membranes. It is also an anti-inflammatory. Cysteine is chemically similiar to the drug acetylcysteine that docs prescribe to patients with persistent bronchitis. Did you know that dry, inflamed mucus membranes are the most perfect breeding ground for viruses? Where bacteria prefers moist breeding ground, viruses thrive in dry terrain. Many pulmonary specialists agree that plain old chicken soup will break up congestion and keep it moving. Some even believe that it contains enzymes that enhance immune function. Add to that loads of onions and garlic and you introduce beneficial allicin (a sulphur compound) that inhibits secondary bacterial infections. Below you'll find a very basic recipe. In the next post I'll describe all the little EXTRAS that I add to my chicken stock to enhance the kick, the flavor and the 'food as medicine' added-value. Stay tuned, k?

One good sized organic chicken (3-4 lbs)

4 quarts of cold water

2 tablespoons of vinegar

2 onions coarsely chopped

2 carrots coarsely chopped

3 celery stalks coarsely chopped

1 bunch of parsley

First, roast chicken at 375 for 1 ½ hours until skin is brown and crispy. When finished, remove meat and set aside. Put bones, skin and vegetables in a stock pot and cover with the cold water. Bring slowly to a boil. Adding vinegar extracts the calcium from the bones and makes your broth mineral-rich. As the water begins to boil, remove any scum that floats to the surface. Reduce heat and simmer for a few hours. The longer the broth simmers the richer and more flavorful it will be. About 15 minutes before taking the pot off the heat, add the parsley. Then strain the stock into a large bowl. Season stock with sea salt and pepper. When the broth has cooled down, place in the refrigerator overnight. The fat will rise to the top so that you can remove it easily the next day. At this point, your stock is ready to transform into a healing soup or to freeze for later use.

oh, about the chicken....in case you're wondering...no, we don't eat our own.
They are here to provide us with eggs (sometimes), to dig in the garden beds and to provide a reason to continually clean off the porch and patio. sigh...maybe I need to rethink this idea.

2 comments:

Clare said...

I totally agree with you, Sue and I'm going to try this asap! I did not know about the vinegar, so yeah, learned something new today!

Do you add the rosemary sprig (in the pic) at the end as well, or let is simmer a little more?

Happy weekend, dear!

Susan said...

Good eye, Clare! I'll be posting about all the extra herbs and spices that I add to the basic recipe in the next post!! You can do either, though. Simmer it along with the chicken or add fresh chopped rosemary in your finished stock.

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