Thursday, February 21, 2013

Congee - not your average gruel

Posted by Amy Baranski

Maybe it's because I'm friends with Melissa and food is her life. Or, maybe it's because I grew up in the kitchen on my mother's hip, but I'm totally down with sharing recipes on this blog. In fact sometimes I think let's just turn this bad boy into a food blog.

Okay, okay, so food.

The latest newest recipe I've tried is congee.

I first heard about congee a couple months ago.

I know, clearly I'm not well traveled nor apparently well versed in rice dishes. But whatever.

A friend from our birth class invited Bob and I and J-rock over for brunch. (Em and I actually gave birth within 3 hours of each other and her babe was twice my babe's size! How's that for Kismet!). So, Em was in the process of eliminating many many food groups from her diet as her baby seemed to be reacting to whatever was passing through in her milk. We had to find a dish to bring that didn't contain: eggs, dairy, soy, nuts, legumes, gluten, or wheat. There may have been some other things on that list. I offered a fruit salad and cardboard.

I ended up in a heated mess with a pomegranate and a coupla persimmons about 30 minutes before we had to be there. I blamed my husband for the mess.

I digress.

Em offered to make congee.

I looked at Bob.

Have you ever had congee?

The first hit I saw online described it as rice porridge or gruel. Gruel?

We're being invited over for ... gruel?
Okay, sure, whatever, I'm game.

I did a little more internet sleuthing and white lied back a text.

Yeah sure like grits?

Em probably laughed her head-off. She shot me back a one-liner.

Sorta but with Asian fixings.
Sounds great!

I made a mental note to eat a bowl of oats before going over.

When we got there Bob and I discovered that congee is this TOTALLY AMAZING DISH that we - both (get this) LIKE! Its like chicken-noodle-soup-for-your-global-soul. You can dress it up or down anyway you like. Bob takes his simple. I'm an all the fixings type of gal.

I found a recipe for it published in Madison Market Central Co-op's circular. It's easy to make, delicious to eat, and is now one of Bob and my standards. I've even memorized the recipe--something I've been trying to do to get a regular repartee of meals that I can pull out of my back pocket on a dime. (Too many idioms? So what). Mangia!


1 cup rice
6 cups water
4 cups chicken broth
1 pound chicken thighs bone in skin on (or skinless boneless and then you don't have to take them out and shred them)
Hunk of ginger peeled and cut in chunks
1/8 teaspoon (or a pinch of white pepper)
2 teaspoons of salt (or to taste)
Fixings: scallions, cilantro, kimchee (or sauerkraut), fish sauce, sesame sauce, peanuts, soy sauce, or tamari, SIRACHA

Throw the rice, water, chicken broth, chicken, pepper and salt into a large dutch oven or pot. Heat until boiling and the simmer for an hour. Check and keep simmering until it's the right consistency. Shred the chicken (if you've gone bone-in (that's what she said) take it out and shred the chicken then toss it back in). Then serve with all the fixins. Done and done. YUM!


Melissa Baumgart said...

YUM! I have some bone-in thighs ;) in my kitchen right now. Maybe this weekend I'll whip up a little gruel. Thanks for the recipe.

Bob Redmond said...

That stuff is the staff of life. There oughta be a song about it, without any Monty Python irony either:

Gruel, gruel, gruel, gruel
eat it every day!
Gruel, gruel, gruel, gruel
eat it every way!

Just don't dress it with mayo
and you'll be oh-so fine
to tell the truth it needs just one thing
and that's a glass of wine!

Gruel, gruel, gruel, gruel
eat it every day!
Gruel, gruel, gruel, gruel
eat it every way!


I love gruel.
(But PS, being late to brunch was not my fault.)

Melissa Baumgart said...

Leave the mayo ALONE! What has that delicious condiment ever done to you???? :)

Loved your poem otherwise. Maybe it could be changed to
"Just don't dress it with sardines"
It's the only thing I could think of that I don't like.