I'm not usually one to make lists until my tasks start to get too overwhelming. There are grocery lists, of course, and there was the beast of a wedding checklist, but everyday chores, errands or goals never really make it to paper.
Lately, though, there have been weekend lists. It started when I kept bookmarking and printing out recipes to try, only to leave them untouched on the kitchen counter all weekend while I did other things (i.e., nothing). I put the recipes on the list. Then I had to make sure I got my oil changed and did the laundry. Then it was two weeks before Christmas, and there were gifts to make and to order. Now, Christmas weekend is here, and the remaining tasks on my list include: wrap presents, make more Heath bar cookies, buy tickets to Universal Studios (I'll be in Florida next week!), pack for said Florida trip, and make chocolate bourbon milkshakes. That last one has been making its way to the bottom of the list for weeks now. Don't worry, it'll happen. Just not today.
Here's something I did check off my list: arroz caldo.
I wanted to make sure I made this and shared it with you before Christmas, because it's a Filipino Christmas food. At least, it's what my parents said they'd eat on Christmas Eve in the Philippines. And when I told my mom I made it, she said, "Oh that's comfort food." Yes, it so is.
Arroz caldo doesn't look like much. In fact, I've written about it here before and compared it to gruel -- it's a thick, sludgy rice and chicken dish (literally means "rice broth," and is the Filipino version of congee, or porridge) with no real color besides a sprinkle of green onions and fried garlic flakes. The rice is simmered in chicken broth with ginger, garlic and patis (fish sauce), until the rice thickens yet becomes silky, and soaked with flavor.
It's the type of warming food that you eat out of a big bowl or mug when you're waist-deep in holiday to-dos, and you just need to pause and slow down and be happy that it's the holidays and you made one of your favorite dishes and it tastes (almost!) as good as Mom and Dad's.
Merry Christmas, guys!
Chicken Arroz Caldo (adapted from Jun-blog and my mom's method)
My mom makes arroz caldo with bone-in chicken parts and water. I was too lazy to deal with chicken bones, so I used boneless chicken thighs and broth, instead -- per Jun's recipe. This stuff thickens a lot over time, so just add a bit of water before reheating.
1 tablespoon canola oil
3 - 5 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
1 1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and finely chopped, about 1/2 tablespoon
1 small onion, chopped, about 1/3 cup
1 - 1.5 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs, sliced
1 cup short-grain rice
4 cups chicken broth
2 tablespoons fish sauce
green onions, thinly sliced for garnish
fried garlic flakes, recipe below
Heat canola oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the ginger, onion, and garlic and cook until the onion is translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the chicken and cook for about 5 minutes. Add the fish sauce and let simmer for a few minutes, then add rice and simmer a few minutes more, stirring often. Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Lower heat and let simmer, stirring frequently until the chicken and rice are cooked through, about 25 to 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the fried garlic flakes: Smash and mince 3 large garlic cloves. Heat a few tablespoons of canola oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and fry until a deep golden brown. Transfer the flakes to a paper towel and set aside.
Serve arroz caldo with fried garlic flakes and green onions sprinkled on top. Makes 6 servings.