Representative dishes of Belgian cuisine take full advantage of what is seasonal and local from the North Sea and the local Market. These recipes would be right at home in a Brugge café or on your own dinner table after a trip to the Broad Ripple Farmers Market.
Waterzooi of Chicken
from “Everybody Eats Well in Belgium Cookbook” by Ruth Van Waerebeek
One of the signature dishes of Belgium is Waterzooi – a cross between a soup and a stew that uses chicken or fish and lots of aromatic vegetables and herbs in a creamy flavorful broth. Prepare the dish through step 5 the day before you want to serve it. The delicate flavors of the broth are enhanced by sitting overnight in the refrigerator.
- 1 stewing or roasting chicken (3-4 lbs.)
- salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 2 bay leaves
- 3-4 fresh springs of parsley
- 2 large sprigs of fresh thyme
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 medium onions, coarsely chopped
- 4-6 cups chicken broth or water
- 4 large carrots, peeled and sliced (1/4 inch)
- 5 medium leeks, white parts only, rinsed and sliced
- 2 medium ribs celery, sliced (1/2 inch)
- 4 large potatoes, peeled and cubed (1/2 inch)
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 2 large egg yolks
- 1/2 cup minced fresh parsley or chervil for garnish
- Pull away and discard any excess fat from the cavity of the chicken. Rinse the bird inside and out. Season with salt and pepper and place 1 bay leaf, 2 sprigs parsley, and 1 sprig thyme in the cavity. Note: I often use chicken breasts in this and cook for only 15 minutes instead of 30 for each of the first two steps so the meat doesn’t overcook and dry out. See what Royer and Schacht have at the Market.
- Melt the butter in a heavy Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent but not browned, about 5 minutes. Place the bird breast side up in the Dutch oven and add enough broth and/or water to partially cover by about two-thirds. Cover and simmer gently over low heat for 30 minutes.
- Skim the surface of the broth to remove any foam and fat. Add the carrots, leeks, and celery to the pot. Tie the remaining parsley, thyme, and bay leaf together with kitchen string to make a bouquet garni and add it to the broth. Cover and regulate the heat to maintain the liquid at a slow simmer for another 30 minutes. Note: In the true spirit of seasonal local cooking, I use whatever I happen to have. When I didn’t have carrots recently I used a parsnip and with only 1 potato, I substituted a turnip. If I only have 2 leeks, I use more yellow onion to compensate. It just depends on what is available at the Market.
- Add the cubed potatoes to the simmering chicken broth and cook until the potatoes are done and the chicken is very tender, 20 to 30 minutes.
- Remove the chicken from the broth and transfer to a large bowl. Discard the bouquet garni. Allow the chicken to rest until it is cool enough to handle. Strip off the skin and use your fingers to remove the meat from the bones. Discard the skin and bones. Shred the meat into bite-size pieces. Refrigerate the broth with vegetables and the chicken separately overnight.
- Beat the cream and egg yolks together in a mixing bowl. Place the Dutch oven on medium to reheat the broth. Stir a ladleful of hot broth into the egg mixture to temper it, then gradually stir this mixture into the broth and vegetables. Cook, stirring constantly over low heat until the sauce thickens. Do not allow to boil or the sauce will curdle. Return the chicken pieces to the broth. Taste for seasoining and add salt and pepper if necessary. Garnish with plenty of fresh chopped parsley and serve in heated bowls. Note: Try a baguette or other artisan bread from Brotgarten or Cornerstone with your Waterzooi and a crisp salad of local greens from the Market.
These additional Belgian style recipes would make a complete hearty feast for your family and friends with fresh local buys from the Market!