Monday, June 29, 2009

Michael Jackson: Remember The Thyme

You wouldn’t have thought Michael Jackson would have got stuck into haggis and deep-fried Mars bars during his brief love affair with Scotland. And you’re right, he didn’t.

But he did love a bit of cock a leekie (no, I’m not going down the Graham Norton route with this – I don’t get paid enough...Heaven knows that man’s worth every penny of taxpayers’ hard-earned lucre...but I fact you could say I’ve come over a little queer...oh dammit...) - or at least the way head chef Peter Fleming made it.

In 1997, when Jackson planned to escape the glamour of Hollywood for the glens of Holyrood, he stayed at the Cameron House Hotel on Loch Lomond while hunting for magic castles in the area.

“He asked for a bowl of chicken soup, so I made him his chicken soup and he phoned me to say how great it was,” Fleming said.

“Then I got a call at home at 6am the next day asking if I could make this soup again.

“I ended up having to explain to the breakfast chef over the phone how to make it!”

I don’t know about you, but it’s one of my favourite meals too. Although maybe not for breakfast. Needs nothing more than some thickly buttered bread, and plenty of salt and pepper.

Here’s my method – not sure if it would have got the 6am call, but it makes a delicious clear soup that seems to put the world instantly to rights, and leaves you feeling invincible, however BAD your day at the office. And as a million cook books have preached, you’ll no doubt know it’s good for the soul – something I’m sure Jackson would have applauded.

Chicken Soup:

2 free-range chicken carcasses
1 large onion
3 sticks celery
1 bay leaf
5 pepper corns
1 sprig thyme
1 carrot
1 large leek
salt and pepper

Please don't use battery chickens for this, because you won’t enjoy it as much, in fact you’ll just sit there remembering horrific conspiracy theories about legless mutant birds with drips in their spine, and how all those chemicals and antibiotics are now bubbling away in your soup.

The best place to get free-range carcasses is at farmers' markets. If you buy some other meat from the stall, they will often throw the carcasses in for free. Wash the chopped carcasses in plenty of water and then prep the vegetables and chop into inch-long pieces. Make sure you wash the leek well to remove all the grit.

Put all the ingredients in a large saucepan and fill to the top with water. Bring to the boil and then turn the heat right down and simmer uncovered for at least two hours. Skim off the grey scum that builds up on the surface with a slotted spoon from time to time.

Drain the stock and return to the heat - you should have a clear consommé. Boil off some of the liquid to taste, and season with salt and pepper. Serve with a glass of Jesus juice.


Jane Wightman said...
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Jane Wightman said...

But but but... where's the chicken meat?
Maybe MJ was pleased to find something edible in Scotland which wouldn't pack a zillion pounds onto his slight, skeletal frame! Twigs normally feel the bitter cold I am told.
Whilst not a particularly avid MJ fan, it's still sad to think he's dead - probably would have stood a better chance of survival if he'd found a Magic Castle in Scotland & stayed, rather than living in USA.
I made chicken soup a week or two ago but I used two whole chickens - bugger this carcass thing! I WANT SUBSTANCE!

Lennie Nash said...

Dear Jane,

Agree with you about the castle thing. I think he would have made a good Scotch hermit.

The recipe is of course just one of many zillions of chicken soup variants. I've made them so thick with meat and veg that customers cry out 'where's the liquid' and think it's stew, to thin consommes.

I still keep going back to this one though, it's pretty filling with all the bread. That's what I love about food, especially soup - it's so subjective.

All the best Jane,


PS. If you wrote it down, please send me your chicken soup recipe.

Jane Wightman said...

Hi Lennie,
Poached Chicken & end results is on my blog - Never Trust a Skinny Cook - it's definitely one I'll make again! Hope you give it a go, let me know what you think, if you do!
cheers from across the bigger pond,