20140121-chicken-mull-shutterstock-2.jpgWhen I went to Fort Yargo in Georgia last year, I was fed like I hadn’t been fed before and this year was no exception. As the militia boys up here said, those folks in Georgia really know how to cook! Yep and double yep. What I found interesting and totally delicious was something I never heard of before. Susie Brooks Fouts called it Chicken Stew and she said it has another name, chicken mull,  but it was not like anything I ever had before. I can’t say it was the prettiest stew I’ve ever seen but boy oh boy, it had a taste that was rich and wonderful. She said it’s a local dish whose epicenter is in the Athens area and maybe made in South Carolina as well.

I was determined to look it up and in fact, not too much is known about it. From what I can see, it was traced to Greenville County where the men would make TONS of the stuff to raise money for charity. It may have started as a fish muddle somewhere near the coast in Virginia and moved down as people migrated southward, . They also put turtle meat in with the chicken and boiled hell out of it . Anyway you look at it,  the north Georgians put their unique stamp on it to be sure, and it’s down right lip smacking good.   If you want to know the documented history of Mull or Muddle as it’s know, check out this link- most interesting .

http://www.seriouseats.com/2015/01/the-secret-history-of-chicken-mull-southern-barbecue-stew.html

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Susie described how she made it and the lady who writes the  Boonie Foodie blog has a similar recipe. Where Susie differed is that she used whole milk instead of chicken stock and a load of butter, my guess is 3 tbs  based on what I saw floating. She used Club Crackers to thicken it and I think that’s what I would used rather than Saltines. Stewing the chicken in the pot would be good but hers was liquified so I would think crock potting it or using an immersion blender would achieve the results wanted for a pulverized chicken stew. She also used Texas Pete for heat….just right!!! I guess a person could fancy it up with fresh corn, an onion, and celery  which would be unreal good and notch it up another level but it wouldn’t be tradition. Anyway you go,though, this is one heck of a true comfort soup.

boonie foodie

Chicken Mull
A Family Recipe

ingredients:
One whole roasting chicken (4-5 lbs)
2-3 cups chicken stock or broth
2 cans of evaporated milk or 3 1/2 cups milk or cream
2-3 sleeves of Ritz (or crackers of choice)
Salt and pepper to taste

directions:
Boil chicken in deep stockpot or crockpot, with enough water to cover, until meat is done and tender. Remove chicken from stock, let cool enough to handle, and shred meat from the bone. Strain stock back into cooking pot, add shredded meat, milk and additional broth. Let cook to a simmer, add crushed crackers and salt and pepper, and cook to desired thickness. Add more crackers if needed. Serve with hot sauce and extra crackers if desired.

It really is as simple as that. More crackers means a thicker mull; using milk or cream means a richer mull than using evaporated milk. It’s extremely forgiving, and very tasty.

https://wanderluck.wordpress.com/2011/02/01/chicken-mull/

Out of curiosity, I looked at 18th century cookbooks as well as Kay Moss’s ” Back Country Housewife” and “Seeking the Historical Cook”, Marty Davidson’s “Grandma Grace’s Southern Favorites” and Joseph Dabney’s “Smokehouse Ham, Spoon Bread and Scuppernog Wine: The Folklore and Art of Southern Appalachian Cooking”, and other than Hannah Glasse’s milk soup and soup made the Dutch way and Hodge Podge which was a pre 1744 southern recipe with variations, , nothing comes remotely close.

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It’s going to be a cold and possibly snowy weekend come the February muster. I want to make some 18th century rib sticking faire and what coukd be better than roasted chicken and dumplings. I found this wonderful blog about the subject and can’t resist reprinting it here.

Thehistoricfoodie's Blog

During the first Great Depression, (as opposed to the one we’re enjoying now), dumplings were a Southern staple.  The dumplings were pretty much the same, but the meat in the pot varied from the standard chicken to squirrel, rabbit, bits of ham, and whatever else happened to be available.  They were basic but filling.

Our 18th century ancestors enjoyed them for the same reasons our grandparents did – they were inexpensive, filling, and could be made quickly with whatever tidbits the cook had at her disposal.

John Day referenced eating a dish of dumplings in 1608 but gave no indication of how they were prepared, and diarist Samuel Pepys did not fail to mention dumplings with a boiled calves head in 1663.  (In the days when no part of the animal was wasted heads routinely went into the pot)

H. Pitman who referred to himself and his brother as…

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Ingredients, but cut, gut and feather the cock first, by George.

Ingredients, but cut, gut and feather the cock first, by George.

Burns Night is coming up and no one is a more rabid Scot wannabe than me, at least on Jan. 25. I pull out the 80 year old Ambassador Scotch and make Scottish dishes for the dinner. According to ritual, at the beginning of the dinner, Cock-A- leekie Soup is served. There are other dishes with comical names which hide things we eat a lot like clapshot ( mashed potatoes and turnips with chives) , rumbledethumps (potatoes and cabbage), roastit bubbly-jock (roasted turkey) but I have a thing for this soup.
The soup with oaten dumplings

The soup with oaten dumplings

While it is called “Scotland’s National Soup,”the history of the soup goes back to France according to the sources I’ve read.That makes some sense when you think of the historic close ties between the two country with ‘The Auld Alliance’ . It probably originated as a chicken and onion soup in France.The chicken used must have been the ones that quit laying eggs, old and tough and ready for the pot. By the 16th century, it had made its way to Scotland, where the onions were replaced with leeks, which I understand grow big as skyscrapers and it didn’t matter the sex of the chicken. The first recipe was printed in 1598, though the name “cock-a-leekie” did not come into use until the 18th century.

I’ve read many recipes , giving a myriad of ways to make it but the one I like best is AULD REEKIE. Both it and the traditional soup recipes come from a site called TRADITIONAL SCOTTISH RECIPES, one well worth looking at for all food Scottish. http://www.rampantscotland.com/recipes/blrecipe_index.htm

According to the editor, AULD REEKY wasn’t named because the soup smells, which it does deliciously, but because this recipe originated in Edinburgh which was called that during the days of coal fires.

The recipe is as follows:

Ingredients:
3lb boiling chicken (giblets removed)
3 slices of streaky bacon
1lb shin of beef
2 lb leeks
1 large onion
5 fluid ounces Scotch whisky
4 pints water
1 level tablespoon dried tarragon
Salt and pepper
8 pre-soaked prunes (optional but traditional!)

Method:
Mix the whisky, tarragon and sugar in the water. Chop up the bacon and place the chicken, bacon and beef in a large bowl and pour over the whisky marinade. Leave to soak overnight. Place the chicken etc in a large soup pot. Chop up the leeks (reserve one) and onion and add to the pot. Salt and pepper to taste. Bring to the boil, cover and simmer for two hours, removing any scum as required. Remove the chicken from the pot, remove skin and bones. Chop the meat into small pieces and return to the pot. Cut up the shin of beef, if required. Add the prunes and the last chopped leek and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. It will serve up to eight people. I found you can double and even triple it as I’ve done and it’s still delicious.

AULD REEKIE

AULD REEKIE

The other recipe for cock-a-leekie soup which is a bit tamer as it is pre-whiskey is:

Ingredients:
1 boiling fowl, about 4lb, including legs and wings
1lb leeks (about 12) cleaned and cut into 1-inch pieces
4 pints stock or water
1oz long grained rice
4oz cooked, stoned prunes
One teaspoon brown sugar
Salt and pepper
Garni of bay leaf, parsley, thyme
Some recipes also have 3 chopped rashers of streaky bacon (yes to this; I like it with the subtle taste of bacon, except I fried it first and browned the chicken and leeks in the bits)

Method:
Put the fowl and bacon in a large saucepan and cover with water. Bring to the boil and remove any scum. Add three-quarters of the leeks, (green as well as white sections), herbs (tied together in a bundle), salt and pepper and return to the boil. Simmer gently for 2-3 hours, adding more water if necessary.

Remove the bird. Some thrifty chefs use the bird as another course, others cut the meat into small pieces and add them back to the soup (certainly it should have some pieces of chicken in it when served). Add the rice and drained prunes and the remaining leeks and simmer for another 30 minutes. Check for flavour and serve with a little chopped parsley.

Serves 6/8 people.

Either way, it’s a winner! auld-lang-syne-postcard-15