AN ILLUSTRATED GUIDE TO MAKING GEDEMPTE CHICKEN

As with most Yiddish words and / or phrases, gedempte does not translate easily into English. The most literal meaning could be steeped, but as this sounds so unlike an actual cooking term most cookbooks go with braised. And I suppose that in a purely technical sense the chicken (or the beef in the case of gedempte fleisch) is braised, in that it is first sealed in hot fat before being cooked slowly in a covered pot. But a Jewish cook would no more refer to her /his gedempte chicken as Braised Chicken than a French chef would call her / his  Boeuf Bourguignon a beef casserole. 

In any event, this is my recipe for Gedempte Chicken, or more properly, my recipe based closely on my late Great Auntie Ray’s recipe…

As with cholent (see my earlier post: https://adamhalevi777.com/2014/12/27/an-illustrated-guide-to-making-oxtail-cholent/) there are many subtly different recipes for Gedempte Chicken, mostly influenced by from which part of the old Ashkenazi world the given recipe originated. For example, Jews of Hungarian decent always add large amounts of sweet paprika, whereas Yekkes (Jews hailing from the German-speaking lands) tend to use celery and tomato puree. However, my maternal great aunt’s grandparents (she was third generation British) were from Latvia, and her cooking, although always excellent and delicious was highly minimalist. She considered vegetables/fruits/herbs such as celery, tomatoes and even paprika as exotic and unnecessary and thus her Gedempte Chicken was incredibly simple. Nevertheless, the handful of times I was privileged to sample it remain some of the most precious culinary memories from my childhood.

But whatever its embellishments, the template for all Gedempte Chicken is the same: Chicken, onions, garlic and heaps of schmaltz (rendered chicken fat which, as my auntie always knew, is very good for you! http://www.huffingtonpost.com/judith-j-wurtman-phd/saturated-fat_b_5107298.html ).*

The recipe presented here uses that template, with those basic ingredients processed as closely as possible to Ray’s recipe – with just a few tiny embellishments of my own…

INGREDIENTS (serves 4)

1 Main Ingredients

2 generous tablespoons  – schmaltz (rendered chicken fat – now available ready-made)

8 – large chicken thighs (skin-on)

2 – large cooking onions – halved and finely sliced

1 – large carrot – roughly sliced

1 – medium-sized head of garlic – peeled and finely chopped

1 cup – chicken or meat stock

salt and ground white pepper to taste

(Optional additions include either; a large stick of celery – thinly sliced –  or 2 tablespoons of Hungarian “Noble” sweet paprika, or 1 tablespoon of tomato puree, or any combination of the three)

2 Prepared Vegitables

METHOD

1) Choose a wide heavy pot and melt the schmaltz over a medium heat…

I make my own schmaltz but these days most good supermarkets have it as do most kosher butchers
I make my own schmaltz but these days most good supermarkets have it, as do most kosher butchers

2) Brown the chicken pieces in two or three batches – don’t crowd the pan…

Ray used the whole bird quartered, but I find that the breast meat tends to be a little dry from the cooking process. The dark meat works best
Ray used the whole bird quartered, but I find that the breast meat tends to be a little dry from the cooking process. The dark meat works best

3) Once browned and sealed, set the chicken pieces aside…

Make sure you really brown the chicken well. This ensures a lovely caramelized skin at the finish
Make sure you really brown the chicken well. This ensures a lovely caramelized skin at the finish

4) Add the onions and carrots to the same pan and saute until well browned, stirring every-so-often – about 10 minutes…

Here, I've used a blend of white ("Spanish"), baby and red onions to get a richer onion flavour. However, if you can get your hands on Roscoff onions, they work best of all
Here, I’ve used a blend of white (“Spanish”), baby white, and red onions to get a richer onion flavour. However, if you can get your hands on Roscoff Onions (the kind that Frenchmen with berets dressed in hooped shirts sell on strings dangling from their bicycles) , they work best of all

5) When the vegetables are well browned add the chopped garlic, and cook stirring for a further 2 minutes…

As always - the fresher garlic the better
As always – the fresher garlic the better

6) Return the chicken to the pan, placing the pieces on top of the vegetables…

It's vital that the chicken sits on top of the veg
It’s vital that the chicken sits on top of the veg

7) Add enough stock to just cover the vegetables and bring to the boil – then add the seasoning and cover the pot with a tight fitting lid. Finally turn down the heat to very low and simmer for about 80 minutes…

Remember - use the bare minimum of stock. This is not a stew. Rather the chicken steams/roasts in the vapour from the stock
Remember – use the bare minimum of stock…
It's vital that the chicken sits on top of the veg
It’s vital that the chicken sits on top of the veg. This isn’t a stew and the chicken steams/roasts in the vapour from the stock

8) Ready to serve!

10 Ready to Serve

(At this stage, if you are making the dish for a dinner party and you want to impress, you can make a thickening einbren – a kind of Jewish beurre manie, only made with schmaltz, not butter. Firstly remove the chicken and all the solids from the pot and place neatly onto 4 heated plates. Then, simply melt another 2 tablespoons of schmaltz in a small saute pan before adding two tablespoons of plain white flour. Cook until the flour goes brown and just begins to burn. Then, a small ladle at a time, add the liquid from the chicken pot until it is all incorporated and you have a rich, emulsified sauce. Finally, spoon a portion of the “einbren” over the chicken on the plates.)

9) Plate up and serve…

11 On the Plate

Here, I served the chicken with a tzimus of carrots and beans (recipe to follow shortly) and mashed potato. Mash is fine but this works best with potato latkes (recipe also to follow shortly)

Make sure you have a hearty red wine to wash it down and enjoy.

Betay avon!!

*https://adamhalevi777.com/2017/08/15/jewish-alchemy-or-how-to-make-schmaltz-and-grieven/

Advertisements

7 thoughts on “AN ILLUSTRATED GUIDE TO MAKING GEDEMPTE CHICKEN

  1. Thank you so much for this lovely recipe. Many of the others for Gedempte Chicken looking too plain.

    My mother made a dish which I think was Dutch descent. It was called Peas and Clice (not sure of spelling). Would you know the recipe? Thanks. Lynda

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Not familiar with “clice” (is it a Dutch expression?) Lynda although it might be referring to einbren of carrots and peas, which is similar to carrot tzimmus, with the addition of peas. Next time I make it and my camera’s to hand I’ll post it up, as it’s delicious. If you don’t want to miss it you’d better follow this blog, and many thanks for your kind comments. Otherwise there’s a very reliable, no-nonsense recipe for it in an old British published book called “Gourmet’s Guide to Jewish Cooking” by Bessie Carr and Phyllis Oberman (ISBN-10: 0907812244 – still available second hand)…

      Like

  2. I think you will find it’s peas and KLEIS which means dumpling in German. My mother in law made it but I don’t have recipe but would like one if you can find it.

    Like

    1. Nothing here in my own modest library of Jewish cookbooks and the mentions on line – as you’re probably aware – are fairly tangential. The one thing I’ve managed to establish thus far is that the dumplings you mention are made from a batter of some kind and then dropped into a pot of minted peas. All most intriguing…

      Like

  3. My grandma in England made this by boiling freshly shelled peas in salted water, with about 2 lbs of unsalted butter ( yes really! ) . When the peas were tender huge dollops of thick batter ( flour eggs milk salt and pepper – like a yorkshire pudding batter but thicker) are dropped into the water off of a large spoon. It sticks to the peas and makes a decadent rich dish. It was served in soup plates.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s