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Posted at 6:00 AM ET, 03/ 2/2011

Chat Leftovers: Pizza and pasta, a twofer

By Jane Touzalin

It's a sad day and a happy one: Today we present the final Real Entertaining column by David Hagedorn, who for two years has given us foolproof advice and fabulous recipes for throwing a heck of a dinner party (this month it's a beer-pairing party). The happy part is that David will return with a new column, Sourced, on April 6. So watch for it. And tune in at noon to today's Free Range chat, when you can ask him questions about his beer-pairing dinner, his new column or anything else that's on your culinary mind. Also on hand will be staff writer Tim Carman, who writes today about new takes on the Mardi Gras king cake, and Najmieh Batmanglij, the local Persian food cook and cookbook writer you can read about in deputy editor Bonnie Benwick's article.

While you wait for the fun to begin, here's a leftover from last week's chat to tide you over:

I love to make a Pennsylvania Dutch version of chicken soup, chicken corn noodle (kluski) soup. The problem I have is that when I freeze or refrigerate the leftovers, the noodles are mushy. Any ideas to keep that from happening? And one more question (PLEASE): How long can homemade pizza dough be frozen?

Two questions? Highly irregular! But I'll see what I can do.

The second question first. Homemade pizza dough should be happy in your freezer for about three months, provided you have done a good job at protecting it from the elements. I wrap mine in one or two thicknesses of plastic wrap and then a layer of aluminum foil, and then I stick that in a resealable freezer bag. Probably overkill, but it seems to work. When I remember, I spray the first piece of plastic wrap with a little Pam to keep the dough from sticking. It needs to defrost slowly (overnight is good) in the refrigerator. Then put it in a bowl, cover it with a towel and wait for it to rise. It will come out perfectly.

On to soup. It's common for pasta that's been frozen in a soup to turn soft or mushy. Long refrigeration will have some of the same effect, plus as the pasta keeps soaking up moisture, the soup will lose some liquid. The only way I know of to avoid the problem is to make the soup without the pasta and cook the pasta separately -- just as much as you're going to eat at one time -- and add it before serving. You might have to cut back on the broth or other liquid in your recipe, because the pasta won't be in there to absorb it. But with a little trial and error, you should be able to come up with the right formula. Divide the soup into the desired amounts for freezing; then when you're ready to cook, it's a simple matter to boil up some pasta separately and put them together just before you're ready to serve.

Some soups freeze well; some, such as those with a dairy base, don't. (The kluski is very freezer-friendly.) Here's another soup that is perfect for freezing. It's a pasta-free minestrone, and if I were making it, I'd cook up some penne or macaroni or other small pasta shape and add it, then freeze the rest. It makes a lot, so you'll have a sizable stash of great soup in the freezer for weeks to come. Fittingly, it's a recipe from one of David Hagedorn's party menus.

Good Luck Minestrone Soup

Makes 20 cups

1 pound dried black-eyed peas
3 quarts low-sodium chicken stock or broth
2 tablespoons chicken-flavored soup base, such as Better Than Bouillon brand
1 pound smoked turkey necks or wings
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 Large white or yellow onion
4 carrots, cut into 1/2-inch dice
4 stalks celery, cut into 1/2-inch dice
4 medium cloves garlic, crushed
1 small bunch rosemary
1 small bunch thyme
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon salt (optional)
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon chipotle-flavored hot pepper sauce , such as Tabasco brand, or to taste
1 can (28 ounces) peeled plum tomatoes, crushed, with their liquid
1 pound collard greens, center veins and stems removed, leaves shredded by hand and cleaned thoroughly
1 pound hot Italian turkey sausage , links only, casings removed
6 ounces freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Soak the black-eyed peas in 8 quarts of water for at least 6 hours, preferably overnight. Drain and rinse.

In a large stockpot, bring 8 quarts of unsalted water to a boil over medium-high heat; add the drained black-eyed peas. Cook, uncovered, for about 30 minutes, or just until they are tender. Drain, rinse and set aside.

While the peas are cooking, make the minestrone's base: In a large pot over high heat, combine the chicken stock or broth, the soup base and smoked turkey necks or wings. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium and cook, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Strain the stock into a large bowl and set aside, discarding the solids. (You should have 10 to 12 cups of stock.)

Return the pot to the stove and heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat until it is smoking. Tie the rosemary and thyme bunches together with kitchen twine and add them to the pot, along with the onions, carrots, celery, garlic and bay leaf. Cook for 3 or 4 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are translucent but not browned. Add the turkey stock, salt, if desired, pepper, sugar, chipotle-flavored hot pepper sauce, tomatoes and their liquid and the drained black-eyed peas. Bring to a boil, then add the greens, stirring until they have wilted. Reduce the heat to medium and cook, uncovered, for 30 minutes or until the greens are tender.

While the soup is cooking, prepare the sausage: In a large saute pan over medium-high heat, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil until it is smoking. Add the sausage and cook for about 5 minutes or until cooked through, stirring to break it into chunks. Use a slotted spoon to drain the sausage slightly and to transfer it to the soup pot for the last 10 minutes of cooking time. Discard the tied herbs and bay leaf. Garnish each serving of soup with 1 tablespoon of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.

Adapted from chef and former restaurateur David Hagedorn

By Jane Touzalin  | March 2, 2011; 6:00 AM ET
Categories:  Chat Leftovers  | Tags:  Chat Leftovers, Free Range, Jane Touzalin  
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Next: Breaux-ken up: Virginia's loss is Maryland's gain


Jane, I happened to ask Fine Cooking magazine's Food Geek (a.k.a. Brian Geiger) about the pasta/soup freezing issue last week via Twitter. His suggestion: Cook the soup without its pasta, then add fresh noodles (the kind from the refrigerated case) after the soup has cooled and just before you freeze it. When you reheat the defrosted soup, the pasta will be freshly cooked. I plan to try it.

Posted by: benwickb | March 2, 2011 8:56 AM | Report abuse

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