Congee is a perfect dish for people going through treatment or recuperating. It’s gentle on the stomach and thought to improve the appetite. If you make congee with brown rice, you get the benefits of additional fiber, which will help you maintain regular digestion. Congee also helps keep you hydrated, as there is so much water in the dish, making it a great meal to turn to when you might be feeling nauseated or just sapped of energy. It takes barely any labor to prepare, but a while to cook — but its worth the wait!
1. Bring chicken and stock (or water) to a boil in a 5-quart heavy pot, skimming froth. Add ginger, scallions and cook at a bare simmer, uncovered, 20 minutes, or until breast meat is just cooked through. Transfer the 2 half breasts with tongs to a bowl. Continue to cook the thighs in the stock for another 40 minutes.
2. When the breast meat has cooled completely remove the bones and tear the meat into shreds. Keep covered in the fridge until ready to use. Bring to room temperature before serving.
3. Strain the stock through a large sieve into a large bowl. Discard solids and wipe the cooking pot clean. You should have about 8 cups: if less, add water; if more, cook longer after adding rice. Return stock to the cleaned pot and check for salt. Add the rice.
4. Bring to a boil and stir. Reduce heat to low. Simmer covered stirring from time to time, until the rice is the consistency of oatmeal, about 1½-1 ¾ hours. If you have a heat diffuser, slip it under the pot to slow the cooking. Stir frequently during last 1/2 hour of cooking as the congee will be thick and tend to stick. Congee will continue to thicken as it stands, so thin with water if necessary.
5. Season congee with salt to taste. Serve topped with chicken and accompaniments to taste, such as chopped scallions, soy sauce, poached or hard boiled egg, salted roast peanuts or pickled vegetables.
Adapted from Gourmet, February 2000
Ann's Tips and Tricks
Try using leftover rice to cut down on the cooking time.