Squeezing the Chicken - An Earth Month Post
Having little appetite lately for posting political diaries, it occured to me that a food diary might be acceptable in celebration of Earth Month. Much is made of living green but I think we're missing a lot when it comes to food. Eating organic food is good for the earth though it's really only the beginning of "green eating". What you do with your organic food after you buy it is as important as what the grower did to produce it. Don't waste it!
Now, back to that bird in the title above. A good market chicken weighs somewhere around five pounds. For two people you can get at least three meals for a family of two out of that chicken without much effort at all, with a little extra left over. Here's how:
Day One - Roast Chicken. Preheat your oven to 350°. Thaw chicken (if it's frozen), take the innards out (if they're there), rinse and dry the chicken. Rub the inside cavity with a teaspoon of salt. Insert one big clove of garlic or two smaller ones, smashed with the side of a knife. Now stuff it with hunks of celery, onion, bell pepper and carrot and a few sprigs of parsley. You can use the ratty celery stalks and leaves, along with those malformed carrots you didn't want to put on the table. If you like things spicy, throw in a jalapeño pepper or two. Bend the bird's "arms" behind its back so they stay there, put the bird in a shallow roasting pan, slather it with butter or olive oil and sprinkle with your favorite seasonings. S & P mixed with poultry seasoning is good, as is seasoned salt.
Into the oven it goes. While it's cooking, prepare your favorite mashed potatoes. After an hour, pull its leg. No, don't tell it an Obama joke. Pull its leg, literally. If the leg wiggles easily in the socket your bird is done. By the numbers, it's 185° on your meat thermometer, inserted into the thigh. Remove the bird from the oven, reduce heat to 225° and keep potatoes warm while preparing gravy.
Empty two envelopes of chicken gravy mix into a saucepan. Add two tablespoons of cornstarch and mix well. Pour the liquid that has accumulated in the roasting pan through a fine strainer into a two-cup measuring cup, then put the chicken back in the oven with the potatoes to stay warm. Skim the fat off the liquid (or siphon the liquid out from under the fat with a bulb baster), add cool water to chicken liquid to make two cups, pour that into the gravy mix, stirring constantly, and heat to boiling, still stirring constantly. All you need now is a salad and some good bread and/or a veggie and your dinner is ready.
Put the leftover bird, along with any bones, into a resealable bag and stash it in the refrig for a day or two.
Day Two - Chicken Pot Pie
2 cups leftover gravy
1/2 cup milk
2 cups +/- cooked chicken, cubed (save all skin, bones, and stuffing veggies plus 1 cup chicken meat for soup)
1/2 pkg frozen peas and carrots
2 medium potatoes, cooked in skins, cooled, peeled and diced
1 recipe pie crust or two ready-to-bake refrigerated crusts.
Preheat oven 375°. Stir milk into gravy. Don't worry if it's a bit thin. It'll thicken up as it cooks. Combine all ingredients except pie crusts. Line pie pan with one crust. Pour chicken mixture in. Top with second crust, seal, and crimp. Cut vent slits in top. Bake @ 375° for 1 hour or until bubbly. Be sure to place aluminum foil or a cookie sheet underneath. Odds are it will boil over. If you're short of gravy, use a can of cream of chicken soup.
Day three - Chicken Noodle Soup
One chicken carcass plus skin and used bones
Veggies from chicken cavity
1 dried red pepper or 1/4 tsp ground cayenne
3 quarts cold water
1 tablespoon chicken base
1 lb linguine, broken into 2" pieces, cooked according to package directions
2 tablespoons parley, minced
1 green onion, cut in 1/4" pieces, including tops
Combine all ingredients in large stock pot. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer one hour. Strain chicken stock from bones and veggies. Remove carrot and and celery and dice. Bring stock to a simmer, add chicken meat, veggies and linguine. Bring back to a boil. Add parsley and onion just before serving.
None of the quantities specified above, with the exception of those in the gravy, are graven in stone. You can vary all the quantities to your taste and it'll be fine.
In China, the word for "food" I'm told actually encompases only noodles and rice. Everything else is considered something on the order of condiments.ShareThis