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Chicken Congee

Nancy Lowell

“Did you ever have something you were sure you didn’t like?” So asks food writer, Nancy Lowell, when discussing her recipe for Chicken Congee. We think it sounds (and looks) wonderful, and now that the summer weather is definitely a thing of the past, Chicken Congee appears to be a perfect dish for fall eating!

“Did you ever have something you were sure you didn’t like? Sure in the way that a three year old just knows she doesn’t like that very thing she ate last night?  Well, that was me and congee.  I just knew I didn’t like it.  I have had ample opportunity to try it, both here and in China where I spent almost three weeks waiting for the processing and paperwork involved in adopting my daughter.  Every morning there it was, that white gloppy mess, and I knew I wouldn’t like it. I have seen it roll by each and every time I’ve had dim sum (and that’s a lot) and confidently shook my head no.  Well, like that three year old, I was just plain wrong.

Last Thursday I met my friend Sarah for breakfast at the Cube Cafe here in Philly.  Sarah’s congee looked pretty good, but it was still hot last Thursday, so I went for a Hong Kong waffle, but I kept thinking about that congee.  Friday was a cool day, and I was still thinking about congee, so I decided to go back to Cube and try it.  First of all I need to say, this congee has to be the best breakfast deal in Philadelphia, if not the entire U.S.  I got that bowl of congee and my choice of hot beverage for $2.50, which would have been a pretty good deal even if I didn’t love the congee, but I did!

I got the meat congee (on Sarah’s endorsement) and it was mildly meaty and topped with roasted peanuts, and fresh scallions.  It was excellent, and I decided I would try to make it at home.  I found a few recipes, did my typical hybridization, using the recipes as a guide for water/stock/rice ratio, as well as timing, and today for lunch I had my very own, very easy, very delicious chicken congee.  I started with one cup of rice, and half a chicken, and ended up with about six (or more) cups of finished product  (I ate some before I remembered to measure the yield).  I am already hooked, and ready to start making all kinds of versions as soon as I finish this batch, which could take me all week.”

Chicken Congee

(Makes about 10 cups)

1 Cup Long Grain White* Rice
4 Cups Chicken Stock
6 Cups Water
6 Slices of Ginger sliced about 1/8″ thick
1/2 Chicken, or 4 chicken thigh quarters

Add all ingredients into a heavy-bottomed pot.
Cook on medium heat until mixture starts to bubble, then turn heat down to a simmer.
Let simmer uncovered for one hour, stirring occasionally.
After one hour remove chicken and let cool, remove ginger pieces and discard.
When cool enough to handle, shred chicken and return to rice.
To serve, spoon into bowls and top with your choice or combination of the following:

Thinly sliced scallion
Roasted and coarsely chopped peanuts
Drizzle of soy sauce
Sriracha or any hot sauce
Hoisin sauce
*You can use long grain brown rice, but you will need to cook longer

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