Saturday, January 22, 2011

Chopped at Home week 1: Pork Wonton soup

I'm a lucky Witch! Why you ask? Because I've got a good friend whos amazing in the kitchen AND has a kid about the same age of the Little Witch. We've been having 'cooking play dates' where the kids play and the cooks, well cook! We've made quite a lot of delicious things - the cheese blintz pancakes were one of our creations.

This past weekend, my buddy came over with a hodge podge of ingredients. It was his idea that we'd play our own version of "Chopped", the cooking contest show from Food Network. On the show the contestants are given an ingredients basket and they have 30 minutes to create an edible dish using all of the strange ingredients. In the Witches' house, we take the mystery ingredients, spread them out on the kitchen table and then discuss what our plan of attack is. There is no time limit! Sure, its not the same as Chopped, but then again there's no TV crew to film us, either.

One of this week's mystery ingredients was pork hocks. All I could think to do with these was to cook them down & make a stock out of them. Pork stock. Ok sure, you've never heard of it but that doesn't mean that you shouldn't try it. Right away the Witch gets her trusty dutch oven out and starts the hocks browning. Throwing in a basic mire poix of celery, onion & carrot was only natural for stock making. I threw in a bit of garlic and ginger for a bit of Asian flavor. 2 hours later, we were witness to an extremely flavorful pork stock that was just begging to be made into a soup.

The wontons were just premade frozen wontons from the Asian market. Use whatever frozen wontons you like, or you can make your own. When we ladled the soup into the bowls and topped them with slices of green onions, well it was like being in a good Chinese restaurant. Rich. Flavorful. Unctuous and filled with umami. This soup was GOOD!! I'd have to award the Chopped championship to us, for sure! With a rockin' soup like this the competition didn't stand a chance. Oh wait...there was no competition. Well whatever, the soup was still good!

Pork Wonton Soup
makes 4 servings
5-6 pork hocks - unsmoked
2 carrots, peeled and cut into thirds
2 ribs celery, cut into thirds
1 onion, rough chop
3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed but left whole
1 inch ginger, cut roughly, you don't even have to peel it
kosher salt & pepper to taste
frozen pork wontons
drizzle of oil

In a dutch oven or other heavy bottomed pot, heat over medium high heat and add oil. Once hot add the pork hocks and allow to brown. This will take about 5 minutes per side.

After first side is browned add the veggies to the pan, onions first, then carrots then celery and garlic. Allow to cook on 2nd side about 5-10 minutes, stirring veg once or twice to avoid burning.

Once the pork has browned and the veg have a slight bit of color on them add water, enough to cover the hocks in 2 inches of water (about half the pan full). Bring up to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Allow to simmer uncovered for 1 hour.

After 1 hour stir things around and add some salt and pepper (best guess is about 1/2 t kosher salt and 1/8 t pepper) and the ginger. Allow to simmer for another hour. The stock will start to thicken as the collagen is dissolved from the pork hocks enriching the stock. the stock will also reduce by about half, concentrating the flavors so be sure not to over salt initially. You can always add more salt later on.

Once stock is done, about 2 hours, strain off solids and discard them. Rinse out the stock pot, return the strained liquid to the pot and add 8 frozen wontons to the stock. Allow wontons to simmer in stock for 5-10 minutes, or until cooked through.

Serve soup with a drizzle of soy sauce and green onions if you have them.


Jenn said...

Is it wrong to want a bowl of that right now with my coffee? I adore wonton soup!! Add a little squirt of Sriracha in there... HEAVEN!!! I am going to the store in a few hours...I'm thinking I need to find me some pork hocks!!

Angie's Recipes said...

Love wonton soup! Sometimes I would add a bit of egg noddles in the soup to make a satisfying weekday supper.

Katie@Cozydelicious said...

Your soup looks so yummy! Isn;t homemade stock the best thing ever?

Maris said...

Looks amazing. I could go for a hot bowl of this right now to warm up!

MaryMoh said...

My family loves wonton. They would love this. I need to cook a big pot, especially in this cold weather :D

Design Wine and Dine said...

I would say you guys certianly won!!! I am so jealous of the cooking play dates BTW! I think I already told you that but I feel the need to say it again :L

I know I would LOVE this soup and a trip to the Asian Market is in my near future! Love that place!

Miss Meat and Potatoes said...

How fun that you have a great friend to cook with (and while the kids play - woohoo!) This is drool-worthy. And how inventive with the ham hocks. I bet the flavor is off the charts. Thanks so much for sharing!

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