Saturday, March 30, 2013

The Power of Taste

Nearly every cook’s primary intent is to satiate others thereby satisfying his own desire to make them happy. In the process however, he must sacrifice the hunger to consume his own creation.

This is perhaps the biggest irony of cooking. That the cook seldom has the appetite to eat what he has just prepared. The more difficult, prolonged or meticulous the cooking, the lesser is the appetite. This is the cook’s curse of selfless selfishness.

Nevertheless, professional chefs need to believe in the power of tasting during the cooking process as often as is needed or is possible. Something as simple as a plate of pasta can taste completely different even when made by the same cook during the same night. The difference between a good dish and a great one could be just a pinch of salt. So it's important to taste, taste, and yes you guessed it, taste again.

However, there are those certain recipes that are easy to execute and will leave you mouthwatering even if you're the cook preparing it. One such recipe is the Chicken Avgolemono, a lemony yet luscious Greek soup that has done its time our dinner menu.

What makes this soup so wonderful and bordering on addictive is the fact that it relies on a delicate balance of flavors. This can only be achieved through careful tasting and adjusting of seasoning while preparing it.

The end result feels like a reward for the diligence--an assurance that tasting as you go pays off even for the simplest of recipes.

Kotosoupa Avgolemono (Greek Chicken Soup with Egg and Lemon)
Makes 2 portions

3 cups              chicken stock
1 no                 chicken breast, boneless, cubed
2 tablespoon    carrots, diced, cooked
2 tablespoon    broccoli, diced, cooked
½ cup              cooked rice
2 nos                eggs, beaten
1 no                 lemon
1 tablespoon    fresh dill, finely chopped
to taste             salt
to taste             black pepper

Bring the chicken stock to a boil and reduce to about 2/3rd the original volume so as to concentrate the flavor.

In the meantime, whisk together the eggs in a small bowl and mix in the chopped dill and the grated zest and juice of one lemon.

Season the boiling stock lightly with salt and pepper and add the cubed, boneless chicken breast. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for about 30 seconds. Add the carrots, broccoli and the cooked rice and cook for another 30 seconds.

Remove the pot of stock from the heat and temper the stock into the egg mixture. To do this, gradually pour about half a cup of the liquid into the bowl whisking constantly to avoid curdling.

Now pour this mixture back into the pot and whisk to finish making the soup. Taste and adjust seasoning one more time and add more lemon juice if necessary to get the desired balance of flavor. Serve hot.

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