Byron’s Cock-a-Leekie with Scottish Oatcakes

You really need the oatcakes to make this traditional soup complete. I made this dish again recently, with the bounty from a parishioner’s CSA farm. The box included leeks, celery, and a paper sack of oats.  I couldn’t bear to cut the unprocessed oats with a pastry cutter, so I mixed up the oatcakes with my fingers, barely patting the dough into a circle instead of kneading and cutting. The result was a lovely batch of oat scones that held together much better than the crumbly oat cakes you get from the recipe below…
Cock-a-Leekie
2 1/2 lb fryer, cut up
4 c. water
1 carrot, sliced
1 rib celery, sliced
1/2 c barley
2 chicken bouillon cubes
salt
pepper
bay leaf
1 1/2 c sliced leeks
Put everything but the leeks into a large pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until chicken is done – if it falls off the bone, your veggies will be mush, but you should be able to pull meat off the bone easily. Remove chicken pieces to a cutting board, let cool slightly, then remove bones and skin and cut meat into bite-size pieces.
While you cut up the chicken, add the leeks to the pot and continue to simmer. Put the chicken back in the soup for about five minutes. Remove the bay leaf. Serve over Scottish oatcakes.
Scottish Oatcakes
1/2 c shortening
1 c. oats (regular or quick, but not instant)
1 c. flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
salt
2-3 Tbsp cold water
Combine dry ingredients in a bowl and cut in the shortening until mixture resembles fine crumbs. Add water a tablespoon at a time, until a stiff dough forms. Carefully roll out 1/2 – 3/4″ thick on floured surface and cut into rounds or squares. Bake on an ungreased cookie sheet at 375 degrees for 12-15 minutes, until bottoms just start to brown. These are fragile and crumbly. Put 2 in the bottom of a bowl and ladle the soup over them. Put the rest of the oatcakes in a basket on the table, with some butter alongside – but don’t try to cut them open, because they will fall apart!

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