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Proof Is in the Custard

August 17, 1995|MARION CUNNINGHAM

A friend, just back from Paris, reported with great enthusiasm about a soup he'd eaten in a three-star restaurant. Not only was it unbelievably delicious, it looked great too. Sitting in the middle of the soup--a rich, flavorful chicken broth--was a custard of foie gras . Bits of the goose liver were stirred into the soup to make each bite wonderfully rich.

I told him, at the risk of being impudent, that I had a similar recipe for chicken broth with chicken custard served in the middle, rather a poor man's version of his unique experience. But my recipe is a breeze to make, and the ingredients are all waiting for you at your nearest supermarket.

You can serve a salad with the soup, but I like it with cucumber sandwiches on whole-wheat bread with the crusts trimmed off.

For dessert, I often rely on maple syrup butter, a cook's good friend when a hurried final course is needed. Spoon it over sliced peaches, nectarines or applesauce. It's also splendid over tiny pancakes with a little orange zest added to the batter.

CHICKEN CUSTARD IN BROTH

CHICKEN BROTH

2 1/2 pounds chicken backs, wings and necks

9 cups cold water

1 onion, cut in half

2 carrots, cut in thirds

3 stalks celery, with leaves, cut in half

1 bay leaf

Salt, pepper

Put chicken parts, water, onion, carrots, celery and bay leaf in soup pot and bring to boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cook about 45 minutes. Remove from heat and strain broth through 2 layers of paper towel into bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Put broth back into pot until custard is ready to serve. If serving later, cool and refrigerate broth until needed. Makes about 2 quarts.

CHICKEN CUSTARD

1 cup chopped cooked chicken breast

1/3 cup Chicken Broth

4 eggs

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan

Salt, pepper

Puree chicken breast, Chicken Broth, eggs, Parmesan and salt and pepper to taste in food processor or blender until smooth. Pour mixture into 4 (4-ounce) heavily buttered Pyrex ramekins (if you use ceramic ramekins, cooking time may have to be increased). Place ramekins in shallow baking dish and place on middle rack of oven. Add boiling water to baking dish, about halfway up ramekins.

Bake at 350 degrees until custard is just firm around edge and trembly in center, about 12 to 15 minutes, checking after 10 minutes. Don't overcook. Remove custards from oven and invert each dish into soup bowl to unmold. Pour hot chicken broth around custards and serve.

Makes 4 servings.

Each serving contains about:

258 calories; 2,073 mg sodium; 248 mg cholesterol; 13 grams fat; 3 grams carbohydrates; 30 grams protein; 0 fiber.

MAPLE SYRUP BUTTER

1/2 cup maple syrup

1/2 cup water

1/4 cup unsalted butter

Combine syrup, water and butter in small saucepan and heat until butter has melted. Stir to blend and serve. Refrigerate any leftovers.

Makes 1 cup.

Each 1-tablespoon serving contains about:

50 calories; 1 mg sodium; 8 mg cholesterol; 3 grams fat; 6 grams carbohydrates; 0 protein; 0fiber.

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