"Bayou Bill" Scifres
Dedicated to the conservation and enjoyment of Indiana's natural resources
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Bayou Bill's CCC (Chicken Chunk Chili)
Copyright © 2002 by Bill Scifres

If I crow like a rooster or cluck like a hen as I tell of this Kitchen Kaper, it is because my taste buds tell me I have just concocted something of a chili coup. I call it Bayou Bill’s CCC (Chicken Chunk Chili), but there are ramifications.

First, I must point out, preparing this dish--or dishes--is not just a matter of slapping it together. It takes time, at least two cooking sessions, possibly three or more.

Part 1 (Cooking the Chicken)

In view of the fact that I am considerably better at telling stories than writing recipes, I launch Part 1 of my story by pointing out that my only needs are five or six chicken thighs or breasts (depending upon what parts of the chicken the potential diners like best. CCC could be made from breasts, thighs, drumsticks, wings, or even necks and backs. It could even be made from a mix of all parts--i.e. the whole chicken, minus feathers.

To get the ball rolling in Part 1, I simply place the chicken parts (five thighs, skin on, for my pilot effort) in a saucepan with cover. I chop up a tennis-ball sized onion and add that to the chicken, then add enough cold water to cover the mixture. Salt and pepper as you wish.

Set that mixture to simmering covered and stir it occasionally until you are sure the chicken will pinch off the bones easily. When cool, place the chicken (skin on, bones in) in a covered container and inundate with the broth and onions. Refrigerate overnight.

Preparation time: About 1 hour, 20 minutes, but process does not require constant attention.

Part 2 (Preparing the Meat)

On removing the container of chicken parts, broth and onions, you will note that the fat from the chicken parts has congealed (partially hardened) on the surface of the broth and can be skimmed out with a large spoon and placed in a clean container, to be used later, or discarded . . . if you are a health nut. 

With tongs lift chicken parts onto a platter and remove skin. It will peel off easily. Place skin in another clean container, to be used later, or discarded . . . if you are a health nut. 

(Author’s note: If this sounds like a broken record, it is because not only am I not a health hunt, I also do not like to waste anything.)

Pinch or cut the meat from the chicken parts and place it (minus bones, gristle, and cartilage) in another clean container. This should make about 2 ½  (two and one-half) cups of meat pinched or cut into small, bite-size pieces.

Preparation time: About 45 minutes, constant work.

Part 3 (Making the Noodles)

Making the noodles is easy. I use the recipe passed down to me by my mother, the late Laura Belle Scifres, who received it in similar fashion from her mother, the late Missouri Dobbs. 
Actually my noodle recipe is he same as my rolled dumpling recipe. At times, in addition to the ingredients listed below, I throw in an egg and ½ (one-half) teaspoon of baking powder. This gives whatever I am making--dumpling or noodles--the “egg” designation. Without the egg they are simply dumplings or noodles.  However, I tend to think my dumplings or noodles are more tender if I omit the egg and baking powder.

The ingredients:

1 ½ (one-and-one-half) to two cups all-purpose flour (sifted). 
½ (one-half) cup boiling stock (short)
Salt and pepper to taste.

How I Do It: 

I sift the flour (salt and pepper added) into a shallow cereal bowl to create a little pyramid of flour. I punch my index finger downward through the apex of the pyramid of flour all the way to the bottom of the bowl.

This creates a little cavity, which is filled with about half a cup of hot stock, but tap-temperature water will work. The hot stock does, however, give the dumplings a richer taste, I think.

Mix stock and flour in the bowl with fork (otherwise you may get burned fingers), and roll hot dough out on a flowered surface of foil or parchment cooking paper (the latter is best, I think).
Knead in more flour as needed (no pun intended) to eliminate stickiness, and roll to a thickness of about 1/8 (one-eighth) inch. With dull knife slice dough into thin strips, squares or quadrangles (depending on whether you are making dumplings or noodles) and lightly turn over each dumpling or noodle to allow them to dry on their undersides.

Allow noodles or dumplings to dry for half an hour at room temperature or in a warm (not hot) oven.

Preparation Time: About 35 or 40 minutes, not counting drying time.

Part 4 (Getting It All Together)

If one part of this exercise in gourmandise is more fun than the others, this is it. Now we are ready to do some serious cooking.

What you will need is a brace of 14-ounce cans of red kidney beans in a nice neutral sauce, a 14-ounce can of stewed tomatoes (whole or sliced), an 8-ounce can of tomato sauce (I don’t like paste), a package of any good chili mix (you can use chili pepper if you like), some dried or fresh mushrooms (I prefer my own dried hen-of-the-woods, or morels, but fresh mushrooms of any variety--wild or store-bought--will be just fine). Then, as my mother used to say, you need to add some sugar any time you cook tomatoes. So I added a couple of teaspoons of old, black “cooking honey.” 

In a six or eight-quart saucepan (with cover), mix tomatoes (cut fine), tomato sauce, the two cans of red kidney beans, the ground or pinched-up mushrooms, and the chili mix (or your own seasonings). Cover it and bring contents to a slow bubbling boil and allow it to cook covered for 30 minutes.

Turn up the heat to a slightly faster boil (but not a big bubbling boil) and stir in noodles slowly with a table fork to keep them from sticking to the bottom of the pan. When all noodles are swimming, allow them to cook slowly for a few minutes, then stir in chicken chunks, and the chicken fat which, by now, will have returned to a liquid state. Chicken fat is optional.

Turn down heat to a very slow bubble and allow chili to steep until the sweet aroma drives you to the cup rack and spoon drawer to exercise your C’s P (cook’s prerogative) to taste-test and sample.

“But wait,” you say. “That can’t be the end of the story . . . what happens to that delightfully unhealthy chicken skin?”

I feared you wouldn’t ask.

Just chop the chicken skin into small, bite-size pieces and keep it refrigerated.

Next morning--or about lunch time--chop a couple of slices of jowl bacon in your old iron skillet, chop in a few tablespoons of diced onion, and crumbled mushrooms. Let it sizzle under constant care until the onion is showing signs of tenderness or browning, and the bacon chips are getting a little crisp.

Dredge the chicken skin in flour, add a tablespoon or two of olive oil, and stir in the dredged chicken skin. Stir constantly until chicken skin is browning, then remove contents to a small platter so you can make a flour/milk gravy in the skillet.

Serve chicken skin/onion/mushroom on toast or hot biscuits topped with the gravy.
Try to save some space for CCC.


All columns are copyrighted by Bill Scifres and may not be reproduced in any form without prior permission from the author.  For reproduction permission and media usage fees, contact: Bill Scifres, 6420 East 116th Street, Fishers, IN 46038, E-mail: billscifres@aol.com

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