On Sunday afternoon, I traveled to the North Fork of Long Island where I participated in an event at the Kontokosta winery. Slow Food sponsored the event in honor of a great local chef, my friend Gerry Hayden. There were 300 guests, the weather was perfect and Gerry was happy.
My dish had been planned since the day I was asked to participate. The meal had to be hot, easy to consume and different than the contributions presented by my fellow chefs (10 men, 3 women). My choice was to serve Iocana Chicken Albondigas (chicken meatballs) in hot chicken consommé. It would be served in espresso cups. The event was smooth and easy and the dish was well received. I spent a few minutes with Gerry and his wife Claudia before driving home. I enjoyed the two ferries while crossing Shelter Island.
On Monday morning, I woke to find an email from Arjun Achuthan, the director of culinary education at the Hayground School in Bridgehampton. His scheduled visiting chef for Wednesday had a conflict and he was reaching out to see if I could take the soup session on Wednesday. As luck has it, I had a few free hours and the Albondigas recipe seemed perfect to share with seven alert 7th graders. It looked like they had fun and I think they loved the food. This dish (made for 14) can transform from whole chicken to chicken soup in 1 hour and 30 minutes.
Little Chicken Albondigas (serves 14):
1 whole 4-lb natural chicken
3 cups quinoa, cooked and chilled
2 cups Panko breadcrumbs
2 cups mirepoix (finely diced celery, carrot and onion)
3 cups rough-cut mirepoix
1-gallon vegetable stock
4 tablespoons Sofrito
2 tablespoons salt
Cilantro chopped for garnish
Start by cutting the breast and legs off the chicken and remove all bones.
Now start a stock with the bones, 3 cups rough-cut mirepoix and one gallon of vegetable stock. Simmer over medium heat for at least an hour, skimming the top of fat every 10 minutes.
Remove all skin from the chicken and chop it into small pieces. Repeat with the dark meat and then place all the chopped chicken into a food processor with the eggs and run on high for 2 minutes.
Dice the breast meat into small pieces. Combine it with the chicken and egg purée in a bowl and stir with your hands. Now add ½ of the quinoa, all of the breadcrumbs, ½ of the finely diced mirepoix and all of the Sofrito. Mix completely with your hands and then season with salt. Now, you can roll them into meatballs (sized a little smaller than a golf ball). Place on a plate or cookie sheet. You now can strain the chicken stock and divide into 2 soup pots.
When both pots begin to simmer, add the meatballs to one slowly so you maintain a light boil. Once all of the meatballs are poaching, add the remaining quinoa and mirepoix to a small saucepan and stir over medium heat. Season with salt.
Now, arrange your warmed soup bowls on a counter and soon you’ll be ready to serve.
Spoon the quinoa into each bowl, followed by several meatballs, then the clear broth and finally a pinch of cilantro.
After service, combine the remaining stock and meatballs and hold cold for another day.