Thursday, January 23, 2014

Chicken Under Pressure


For Christmas this year my bride gave me a pressure canner.  Now you may be saying to yourself, “What kind of gift is that?” but it was a kitchen toy to me.   You know we guys like to have a toy to open and tinker with at Christmas, so this was mine!  See the kitchen for me is a huge chemistry set to play with and this was just another instrument.
A pressure canner is needed to reach the high temps needed to can and preserve low acid foods and meats such as chicken vegetable soup.  The hot water bath method of canning is great for jellies, jams, pickles and other high acid foods, but boiling water will only be at the boiling temperature. 

So one of my first runs on the pressure canner was to make Chicken Vegetable Noodle soup.  Now the trick here is that the noodles don’t go in the soup until I’m ready to eat, even when I’m not canning.  I boil my noodles separately, and then add the hot soup over the noodles in each bowl.  

The first step is the chicken.  I boil one whole chicken in a pot filled with water.  I add spices such as, onion powder, garlic powder, dried basil, dried thyme, celery salt, and salt and peppercorns.   Boil the chicken for about 30 minutes, and then turn off the heat and allow the pot to cool down for about an hour.

Remove the chicken, pick the meat and discard the carcass.  Break, or chop the meat into various bite size sections and set to the side. 

Straining the broth process
Using another pot and strainers or cheesecloth, strain the broth to remove all the tidbits of seasonings and chicken.  It may take a couple of strains.  When you are done, you will have a nice pot of chicken broth.

Now for the ingredients
1-2 sweet onions, chopped
1 bag of frozen corn
1 bag of frozen peas
1 bag of frozen cut green beans
1 bag of frozen butterbeans
1 bag of baby carrots, chop carrots into thirds
Our picked chicken and our broth

Using five sterilized quart Mason jars, divide the chicken between them as evenly as possible.  Next, using a ¼ cup measure, add all the ingredients as evenly as possible among the jars.  Working one item at a time until all the items are gone and the jars are filled.

Now fill the jars with warm chicken broth, leaving a one inch head space at the top.  Use a plastic spatula or plastic knife to remove air bubbles and maintain that one inch head space.

Place the lids and screw down the tops on the jars.  Follow your pressure cooker’s instructions to process the soup.  Mine called for 11 lbs. pressure for 90 minutes.  The soup was and still is wonderful!
It seems to be a bit of work but it actually went pretty fast.  Now I have several quarts of soup ready when I want it without all the work during the week.  Just cook some noodles and heat a jar of goodness to top it with.
Take care!

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