I was going to post this next week, but since it might SNOW tomorrow (April, go home, you're drunk), I thought you all deserved a nice warm soup - specifically, the love of my life, pho. The number of embarrassing stories I can tell that are directly related to my (way too frequent) pho delivery orders are pretty telling of my pho-bsession (GET IT? 'CAUSE IT'S PRONOUNCED FUH? FUH-BSESSION? Please save me from myself). A smattering of anecdotes, in no particular order:
- The time I called Pho 14, my favorite pho place, for delivery and they told me that they usually have a $20 minimum but since I order so often they'll waive it for me.
- The time I answered the door and the delivery guy asked where my husband was (which is creepy, btw) and when I seemed confused he said, "Oh, I just assumed you were always ordering for two." SORRY I LIKE TO GET EXTRA NOODLES SOMETIMES SIR.
- The time I ordered from Pho 14 one night and then picked up pho from a different restaurant the next night so they wouldn't judge me for getting it twice in a row.
- The time I melted the plastic container my pho came in onto my stove when I accidentally used the wrong burner trying to reheat the broth.
- The time the delivery guy told me he hadn't seen me in a while and is everything okay?
I know. It's bad. But what can I say? It's my favorite Sunday night ritual to order pho and set up the table that I may or may not have purchased exclusively because it's hard to eat pho on the couch and go to bed at 9. Yes, I follow a senior citizen's schedule and I am proud.
Anywho, due to a) the cost of ordering pho once a week plus anytime I was hungover and b) all of the stories above, I decided it was time to learn to make it myself. After one disastrous attempt that resulted in Tim ordering a last minute pizza for us, I came up with my shortcut chicken pho. While I prefer beef pho in general, I readily admit that chicken is healthier and easier to make, so that's what we have here. I do promise to put up a beef pho recipe at some point, though.
Also, the two biggest factors that scared me off of making my own pho were the need to make my own stock plus the random spices involved. This recipe deals with the homemade stock by skipping it entirely and using store bought broth, and I highly recommend going to the Whole Foods bulk spice section for your spices - I ended up paying less than $1 for all three of the spices I needed. Finally, traditional pho uses rice noodles, which you are welcome to use, but I figured if I was going to try to be healthy I should go all out, so I used zoodles. I'll tell you how to use either in the recipe below.
Easy Crockpot Chicken Pho
- 2 large chicken breasts
- 8 cups chicken broth (I used low-sodium because #health, but my salttooth was a little sad about it, so do whatever floats your boat)
- 1 large white or yellow onion
- 3 inch piece of ginger
- 5 star anise
- 10 cloves
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- either 3 large zucchini or 2 packages of rice noodles
- Optional garnishes: bean sprouts, lime wedge, cilantro, scallions, basil (Thai or regular), jalapeños, shaved red onion, sriracha, hoisin sauce
- Additional items: cheesecloth, kitchen twine (both of which are super cheap on Amazon)
Peel and halve onion. Halve ginger lengthwise. Place both on baking sheet, inside-up, and broil until charred. Tie up in cheesecloth.
Toast spices in a dry skillet over high heat until fragrant. Tie up in cheesecloth (same as with onion and ginger if you have room, otherwise do a new one).
Add chicken breasts, chicken broth, fish sauce, sugar, and spices/onion ginger combo in cheesecloth. Set crockpot to high for 4 hours or low for 8 hours.
Once time is up, remove chicken breasts and shred. Strain the rest of the broth through a fine mesh strainer or through cheesecloth. Return chicken to broth.
Prepare either noodles or zoodles and add to broth. If you want to do rice noodles, prepare according to box directions. If you're doing zoodles, just add the raw zoodles (aka zucchini through the spiralizer or julienned) directly to the hot broth.
Prepare bowls, serve pho with optional garnishes, and enjoy!