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"Cook of the Week" Josh Bright


Josh Bright is a hospital administrator at North Arkansas Regional Medical Center and a pharmacist by profession. Bright grew up in Jasper and after graduating from Jasper High School, he pursued a degree in Chemistry at Arkansas Tech University before attending pharmacy school at UAMS in Little Rock. Bright lives in Harrison with his wife, Haley, and their three children. The Brights are all active in the community — supporting Harrison schools, particularly the band and theatre programs.

Bright's cooking experience didn't really begin until he moved to Little Rock and had his own place. As a pharmacy student there, he became interested in healthy lifestyles and started experimenting with vegetarian cooking. Through his experimentation using cookbooks, he learned to appreciate simple, wholesome foods.

His pharmacy training also influenced Bright's approach to cooking in other ways — "Pharmacy lends itself well to experimenting and recording details, so having a strong foundation in the basics has been fun and invaluable in developing and trying to perfect new recipes," he shared.

One of Bright's favorite things to cook with is herbs — he enjoys growing some himself to share with friends. These herbs come in handy in some of his favorite recipes — soups and stews, many of which he gleaned from a cookbook given to him by his mother.

When asked if he has any recipes he keeps secret and will not share, Bright says "absolutely not." "Recipes are meant for making, sharing, and improving. Cooking is a communal activity that brings people together, and sharing recipes is a big part of that," he stated. "Whether it's a cherished family dish or a new experiment, I believe that the joy of cooking comes from exchanging ideas and techniques with others. My only request is that if someone finds a way to do it better, they share it back with me!"


Creamy Potato and Leek Soup


1 lb bacon, diced

3 Tbs total bacon grease and/or butter

2 large leeks, washed, quartered, and thin-sliced or diced (about 4 cups)

2 ½ lb gold potatoes, approximately ½” inch dice, unpeeled

6 cloves garlic, pressed or fine diced

4 cups chicken broth

1 Tbs Better Than Bouillon Roasted Chicken

2 cups milk (whole is best, but any will work)

⅔ cup heavy cream

1 ½ tsp fresh ground black pepper, more or less to taste

⅓ cup all-purpose flour

1 tsp kosher salt plus more to taste

Chives or scallions, sharp cheddar, and/or crispy bacon pieces for garnish

In a large dutch oven or soup pot, cook diced bacon until just crispy. Drain

and set aside, reserving about ½ of bacon grease in pot.

Melt butter into bacon grease if less than ¼ cup bacon grease remains.

Sweat leeks with a teaspoon of kosher salt in the grease/butter over

medium low heat. You are not looking for caramelized color, just sweating

them down and releasing the water.

Add garlic and cook, stirring constantly, 1-2 min.

Sprinkle the flour over the ingredients and stir until smooth using a whisk.

Continue to gently stir and cook for 1-2 minutes.

Add about ½ of the chicken stock a little at a time, whisking constantly to

keep the mixture smooth. Once the stock is combined, add all other

ingredients except the bacon.

Slowly increase the heat to a gentle boil, stirring regularly. Continue to

allow a gentle boil until the potatoes are fork-tender, about 10-15 minutes.

Add chicken stock as needed to keep consistency even.

Reduce heat to low and simmer. Use a potato masher to break down potatoes

to desired consistency. Soup should remain thick and chunky.

Add in ¾ of the reserved bacon and continue to simmer on low for 15-20

minutes. Use the remainder of the stock or additional cream to thin out if

needed, or mash more potatoes to make the soup thicker.

Salt to taste. Garnish as desired.

Note: Soups with dairy don’t freeze well, so only make what you plan to eat or give away within a few days.


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