Whenever a bout of “gastrointestinal distress” causes Kit (the dog) to go off his feed, I cook him a pot of chicken porridge—chicken, white rice, carrots, garlic, thyme, a little salt, and lots of water. Once I thought it would be healthier to use brown rice. Bad idea. The purpose is digestibility, not fiber.
And whenever I cook the porridge, I think how good it looks and smells: sweet from the fully broken down rice and lightly chicken-y. And I wonder how the dog would feel about sharing. Unfortunately, the past weeks have found me cooking porridge several times.
But also this week, I went out to a casual Vietnamese restaurant in the Tenderloin district with a couple of gal pals. (We are all looking for good, inexpensive choices.) We ordered a bowl of chicken porridge. It was delicious comfort with a big hit of ginger. The time had come to cook porridge for Kit and for me, too.
I pondered about adding ginger to the pot. Ginger helps settle people’s upset stomachs but would it work for a dog? Or would it be too spicy? I thought about a cinnamon stick, another anti-inflammatory. Kombu? How hard it was to stay simple and bland when I put myself on the eating side of the equation. Maybe if I were cooking for myself when sick, it would be easier. (But then I wouldn’t feel like cooking.)
A whole chicken went into the pressure cooker with chopped carrots, a chunked onion, a couple of garlic cloves, some parsley and thyme (no lavender thyme, lemon thyme, or English thyme, just large-leafed, mildly flavored garden thyme), a good pinch of salt (no pepper or chili peppers), and enough cold water to submerge the chicken. Twenty-five minutes later, the chicken was cooked and cooling.
After shredding the meat back into the cooking liquid, I added a pound of basmati rice and another pinch of salt. Another few minutes under high pressure and that was done. I’ve noticed a puzzled and even hurt expression on Kit’s face if I give him something that is too warm, a bit of leftover egg, for instance, or a pancake. So we had to wait until the porridge cooled.
While we waited, I sliced ginger, shallots, and garlic as thinly as I could and fried them, separately, in a little oil until they turned golden brown and crunchy. While they drained on paper towels, I minced a little parsley (I tore the scraggly cilantro out of the garden just last week.). Then I filled my bowl (It does not say Fido on it.) with the chicken porridge dog food and turned it into pretty good people food with the garnishes. An even simpler version would be to add a spoonful of hot black bean sauce. Or curry powder. Or, or, or