Aromatics or aroma is probably a term you've heard so many times when you are watching a cooking show or reading a cookbook but do you actually know what it is? There is so much confusion around these terms but I'm going to tell you everything you need to know about aromatics, what they are, and how to use them. When you look up the definition of aromatics, most of the info out there will tell you that they are a combination of certain herbs, spices and veggies. When in fact all fruits and vegetables have aromatic molecules in them. These molecules that give off those wonderful aromas that you smell and enjoy when you are eating.
Even though onions, carrots, and celery have coined the term aromatic there are tons of other veggies like fennel, lemongrass, ginger, fresh parsley, and cilantro that are also great aromatics. Take a step into your pantry, all those bottles of dried herbs and spices, they are also aromatics! When you are learning a new cuisines, it is great to learn its aromatics because it creates a very strong foundation of flavor for you to build upon. You be able to hit those underlying flavors and that you are looking for in those dishes.
Here is a list of some of the classic aromatics around the world:
Mirepoix: onions, carrots, and celery
Sofrito: culantro, onion, green bell pepper, garlic
Holy trinity: green pepper, celery, onion
Chinese : Scallion, ginger & garlic
Thai: Ginger, lemongrass, basil
In order to make these veggies aromatic you need to cook it for a while and caramelize those sugars. There are two ways to do this, either in oil or in water and I going to show you how to do to both! Oil is very special because it is the ultimate carrier of aroma. It cooks down the veggies while capturing the aroma in the oil which you can add to tons of dishes. Water on the other hand, captures the aroma in its molecules leaving you with a delicious stock. My flavored blasted chicken noodle soup use both methods, tons of aromatics, and leaves you with an amazing bowl of soup. Fun fact: After my wife gave birth to my daughter, I brought her back to health with this exact soup!
Flavored Blasted Chicken Noodle Soup
2 chicken legs
1 teaspoon of salt
1 tablespoon of oil
1 onion, peeled and diced
2 - 3 carrots, peeled and diced
1 fennel, peeled and diced
2 cloves of garlic, sliced
1 tablespoon of butter or oil
1/4 cup of chopped parsley
1/2 cup of short cut noodles
1/2 cup of chopped cauliflower
2 -3 cardamom pods
1 whole dried chili, optional
2 cloves of garlic, sliced
4 cups of water
Start by sprinking the salt over the chicken legs and add 1 tablespoon of oil to a medium sized stock pot on medium high heat.
Once you start to see some wispers of smoke, place your chicken down and start to sear on all edges. By the time the chicken is done you should have a good layer of chicken fat and some fond. This is all flavor so go ahead and add another tablespoon of oil or butter. Low your heat to low and add in your diced, onion, carrots and fennel. The veggies should have a good layer of fat!
Add a pinch of salt and a couple of stirs. Let this slowly caramelize for about 15 - 20 minutes. Give it a couple of toss every now and then.
Once your veggies have caramelized, your entire kitchen should smell amazing. Now is the time to temper you dried spices in the oil as well. Add in the cardamom, chili, and garlic. Toast for another 5 minutes.
Now, add the chicken legs back in and add in 4 cups of water. Cook on low for 3 hours. Add in another pinch of salt or enough where you like the salt levels.
After the three hours are up, add in chopped cauliflower florets and noodles. Cook for another 10 minutes or until the noodles are al dente.
Finally, shut off the heat and add in the chopped parsley for the final level of freshness and fragrance! Serve up and enjoy this flavor bomb chicken soup.
This post on aromatics came directly from my new course "Conquer the Kitchen" which drops in just a few weeks! My goal was to create a course specifically designed for home cooks that helps you break free of recipes so you can create new delicious meals everyday. After of months of curriculum planning and production i’m getting so excited to finally release the course so stay tuned to get your seat.