Bon Appétit and I are celebrating slow cookers this month — I’ve created three incredible slow cooker recipes for them, Slow Cooker Vietnamese Pho Ga Noodle Soup; Slow Cooker Cedar Planked Salmon and Slow Cooker Moroccan Lamb Stew. Oh, and if you don’t have a slow cooker, guess what? Bon Appétit is giving away a $150 KitchenAid Slow Cooker to one lucky duck.
For the full recipe for Slow Cooker Vietnamese Chicken Pho Ga Noodle Soup, head over to Bon Appetit. I’ll go into more detail about 3 of the secrets to the recipe.
Slow Cooker Vietnamese Chicken Pho Ga Noodle Soup
Secret #1: The Moist Chicken
See how moist and tender that chicken is? The secret is to separate your chicken. Chicken bones and parts for the broth; and 1 chicken breast reserved for slicing and eating with your Pho Ga.
The chicken bones and parts go into the slow cooker to make the soup.
The chicken breast is thinly sliced and poached just before serving – cooks in 3-4 minutes. If I had cooked the chicken-for-eating in the slow cooker, it would be flavorless and tough. All of the flavor would have transferred into the broth….and chicken cooked for hours on end in a slow cooker ends up chewy and tough.
Secret #2: Size Matters
Let’s talk about the Pho Ga soup for a bit. I add 2 pounds of chicken parts, whole coriander seeds, half an onion, ginger slices, whole cloves, star anise, and a bundle of cilantro.
Of the 2 pounds of chicken, 1/2 pound of that should be wing tips. Most slow cooker have capacity of 7 quarts. The chunkier the chicken, the less room you have left for broth.
Chicken wing TIPS (the section that really has no meat anyways) have maximum flavor, minimum size. That’s why I love using wing tips. Or chicken feet, if you can find them (did I hear someone squeal?! chicken feet is great for soup!) So remember, size matters. A 7-quart slow cooker will make enough Pho Ga soup for 4 big bowls.
After taking out the big chicken parts, I’ll strain through cheesecloth just to ensure that the broth is clean and clear. For cooking noobs, here’s something to remember. Anytime you are cooking raw chicken in simmering water, you’ll get quite a bit of “white stuff” in the water. Don’t be afraid of it, it’s just chicken protein. If you have time on your hands, you could parboil the bones first in a stock pot, discard water (and “white stuff”) and then proceed with the recipe. But if you have time on your hands, you could just make Pho Ga without the slow cooker.
Straining the broth gives you golden, richly colored, clean soup.
Secret # 3: The Noodles
Soak the dried noodles in COOL water first then DRAIN. This helps makes them pliable, soft and cook better.
To cook the noodles, bring a pot of water to boil and then put the cool drained noodles into the hot water and simmer for 1 minute. After 1 minute — the noodles are DONE!!! That’s it. Don’t overcook the rice noodles, they’ll get too soft and soggy.
Oh and a note on why I boil my noodles in water instead of the pho ga broth we made? Well, I always boil my noodles and pasta separately from my precious soup. That’s because dried noodles/pasta tend to have excess starch that boils out into the water (that’s why boiled pasta water is murky) and many times the dried noodles might have itty bitty weevils or dirt particles that I just don’t want in my soup.
Not so secret secret:
I love garnishing with shaved onions, fresh bean sprouts, cilantro and a squeeze of lime. No Sriracha or Hoisin for me, though many people do enjoy those condiments in their Pho Ga, I think it totally overpowers the beautiful broth.
For the full recipe for Slow Cooker Vietnamese Chicken Pho Ga Noodle Soup, head over to Bon Appetit.