By Elke Probkevitz
Hard to believe it’s already October, and yet we are preparing to dine outdoors in our little homemade huts. When the weather has a chill to it, eating meals outside is almost like camping out. So bundle up in a sweater and prepare foods that are warm and comforting, with a special yom tov flair. Here are some dishes that are hearty and delicious to keep you satisfied in your sukkah.
Chicken soup. Nothing says comfort food like a hot bowl of soup, especially chicken soup with noodles and matzah balls. Make your soup with a whole chicken and shred the meat to serve for an even more filling bowl of comfort. Change up the vegetables with hearty fall produce like butternut squash or sweet potatoes.
Chili. Another standout comfort food, chili can be made with any combination of protein and spices to change up the flavor profile. Make a lamb chili for yom tov with lamb stew, cumin, onions, garlic, tomatoes, and kidney beans. A short-rib chili can be prepared with beer, chipotle in adobo, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, and garlic. Ground beef or turkey chili can be prepared and served over polenta or a vegetable purée to make a prettier presentation. Add as much or as little spice as you like.
Whole roast chicken. One of the easiest and simplest ways to prepare chicken, roasted whole, is basically a no-fail chicken technique that guarantees moist, flavorful results. Rub spices on the outside; fill with aromatics like fresh thyme, rosemary, lemon, and garlic or with a wonderful rice or challah stuffing.
Meatballs. A good, saucy meatball is always warming and filling. You can use any kind of meat or a combination: beef, lamb, veal, chicken, or turkey. Make a traditional marinara, sweet and tangy, or add Asian or Moroccan fare. Serve over orzo or rice for a dressier version of spaghetti and meatballs.
Braised ribs. Melt-in-your-mouth ribs that fall off the bone with a hearty, rich sauce—can’t get more comforting than that. Use short ribs, spare ribs, or flanken, and cook with spices, veggies, and a flavorful broth for a delicious dish to warm your belly.
Chicken potpie. I love serving chicken potpies in individual ramekins. It’s a great appetizer or main dish that can be served up piping hot and will feel warm and comforting going down. Mix up the veggies to make it more sophisticated. Use leeks and cremino mushrooms, butternut squash, or asparagus. v
Leek-And-Mushroom Chicken Potpie
3 whole chicken breasts, with skin and bones
3 Tbsp. olive oil
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ cup butter substitute (like Earth Balance)
3 medium leeks, white and pale green parts, sliced
2 large shallots, minced
½ lb. cremino mushrooms, quartered
2 Tbsp. minced fresh thyme
½ cup flour
5 cups low-sodium chicken broth, warmed
½ cup dry white wine
½ cup coconut or soy cream
1½ phyllo-dough sheets
Preheat oven to 350°F. Place chicken breasts on baking sheet, rub with olive oil, and season well with salt and pepper. Roast for 35–40 minutes or until cooked through. Remove meat from the bones, and dice. (Alternatively, use leftover cooked chicken or rotisserie chicken.)
Melt butter substitute in pot over medium heat. Add leeks and shallots, and sauté until softened, about 5 minutes. Add mushrooms and thyme. Sauté until tender, about 6 minutes more. Add flour and stir, cooking 2 minutes. Stir in 4–5 cups broth and ½ cup white wine. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Add cream and thicken, whisking frequently, for 5 minutes. Add chicken, and season with salt and pepper. Divide filling into 8 greased individual ramekins.
Raise oven to 375°. Roll out phyllo dough to ½-inch thick. Cut into squares to fit over ramekins. Seal ramekins with dough and trim off excess. (You can roll out extra dough and cut leaf shapes for decoration.) Brush with egg wash and cut slits in crust to allow steam to escape. Place ramekins on baking sheet and bake on top rack of oven till golden brown, 40–45 minutes.
Want to learn how to cook delicious gourmet meals right in your own kitchen? Take one-on-one cooking lessons or give a gift to an aspiring cook you know. For more information, contact Take Home Chef personal chef services by calling 516-508-3663, writing to elke@TakeHomeChef.net, or visiting www.TakeHomeChef.net.