Monday, May 12, 2008

It's Over. It's Finally Over.

So… I am done. That’s it. I am now Dr. Anna, for whatever that is worth. Not a lot, really, but it’s still something. Now I have to re-write my blog profile blurb and I have no idea what to say. Before, I was a long-suffering grad student, trying to take the edge off a painful schooling experience by eating wonderful things. Now, I am just a person who eats a lot. I am in need of a new niche. If y’all come up with something, let me know. I am feeling dramatically unspecial right now. Boohoo me, right? Not really. I am also immensely relieved and excited to move on, and to get back all the sleep I lost and re-grow all the hair I pulled out in the last two months of dissertation writing and defending. That might take a while though.

One thing that I knew for sure all along is that I would not have made it this far or anywhere at all without the help (and tolerance) of my friends. They came out in force to keep me sane and keep me fed throughout the entire process. One evening, my friend Melissa brought her kitchen to mine. She came over with her favorite Dutch oven, pre-measured ingredients, and a recipe for chicken goulash with sour cream biscuits (from Bon Appetit? Gourmet? Don’t recall. I don’t remember a lot of things from the last month). I tried to help her with making dinner, but have a serious suspicion that I was in her way more than anything else. Turns out I am useless with a pasty cutter and even worse at handling raw chicken. Luckily, I am an excellent eater. No complaints from anyone on that end.

The goulash was a thing of beauty.

Chicken Goulash with Sour Cream Biscuits
2 lbs skinless boneless chicken thighs, cut into 2 inch pieces
1 ½ cups flour
5 tbsp cold unsalted butter
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp baking powder
2 ½ cups chicken stock
1 cup sour cream
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 red bell pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp hot Hungarian paprika
2/4 tsp caraway seeds
1 tsp thyme

- Preheat oven 425F
- Dust chicken with flour
- Melt 1 tbsp butter and olive oil in Dutch oven. Brown chicken on all sides and remove to plate. (may want to add a little bit more flour at this point if you like a thicker stew)

Meanwhile, make biscuits:
- Pulse flour, baking powder, ¼ tsp salt and ¼ tsp pepper in a food processor. Add 4 tbsp cold butter and pulse.
- Whisk ½ cup chicken stock with ½ cup sour cream and add to flour mixture. Pulse until dough forms. Form into 10-12 round biscuits.

- Saute vegetables in Dutch oven until softened, scraping up chicken bits.
- Return chicken to the pot add spices and toast for a couple of minutes.
- Add remaining of chicken broth and sour cream.
- Place biscuits on top of stew.

Into the oven

- Bake for 20 minutes covered. Remove cover and broil for 2 more minutes to brown the biscuit tops.

Melissa’s recipe substitutions and notes – Melissa used white breast meat instead of thigh meat to cut down on the fattiness of the dish (much appreciated) and half regular paprika and half hot paprika to moderate the heat. It was still seriously hot, mind you, and I am not a spice wuss. One final recipe note – make double the number of biscuits. Seriously. They were so good I wanted to hug them. A little tangy from the sour cream and so smooth and creamy. They were perfect with the hot and spicy stew beneath. Oh, and the next day, the flavors in the stew meld together and the liquid soaks up into the biscuits to make bready flavor bombs. Ridiculously good.

If you don’t have a friend like Melissa, I suggest you go find one immediately. It will be worth your while. It was mine.


lara griffiths said...

unspecial- absolutely not.
u rock
and sincere congratulations!

Tyler said...

Wow, congrats! You must feel fantastic right about now. I remember feeling great when I got my B.S., and that was just a B.S.!

Anna said...

Lara - Thank you so much! Trying to redefine myself here. It's surprisingly challenging, actually.

Tyler - Thank you! I have to admit, the satisfaction of successfully defending eclipsed successfully graduating college. It may have to do with the time - 7 years for PhD, 4 years for BS. There is a lot of build-up over 7 years!

Kalyn said...

Congratulations! I quit half-way through graduate school, so I know it's a huge accomplishment.

lissa said...

ok, really. i feel incredibly special. me and tropicana (my new name for the lovely thing that is my dutch oven) will come over anytime! dissertation or not!

mehdi said...


"..bringing my dutch oven..", I dont think so, its HEAVY! "..bringing my whole kitchen.." there's not much there, except for the dutch oven, which is HEAVY!!

The cook will be more than happy to come around, and use your kitchen! How does that sound?

One Food Guy said...

Finally! I'm talking about my Five Facts

Anna said...

Kalyn - Thank you! I was so (SO) close to quitting so many times. I think the only thing that kept me in was all the people telling me that it's ok to quit. I don't know why, but it pissed me off and made me stay. Huh. All is well that ends well.

Lissa - You and Tropicana are most welcome, any time (day or night). Please? I really need to repay the favor some time soon. I keep waiting for things to slow down and that is just not happening.

Mehdi - That sounds great to me! Carrying that Dutch oven around was a total workout for Melissa, I am sure.

One Food Guy - Awesome. On my way to check it out.

chall said...

Congrats to the PhD title, or rather the 'Dr' :) Just found your blog and the food descriptions just make my mouth watering... lovely!!

(btw, I would like to say it is an achievment to remain sane after the defense. the stress and the surrealistic feeling - at least I had that when I defended - is not forgotten easily.)

JC said...

Congrabulations, Doctor Anna!

Have you sobered up yet? :D