Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Getting the most bang for your buck!

Ready for another suggestion in cooking whole chickens 101?  My mom had 8 kids in 10 years and was the mistress of frugality and making food go further than seemed possible.   She makes the BEST chicken stew (a very close relative to Acadian chicken fricot if you ask me) in the entire universe and it all starts with a whole chicken.

While some people love the drumsticks the most, it can be tricky to make the most of the meat on the legs after it’s roasted, on the bird.  The same goes for the wings, if left on the bird for roasting.  So if you want to get every last ounce of meat from those bonier bits, why not sacrifice them from the roast and make chicken stew?

It starts by cutting one or both drum sticks off the uncooked chicken, to the first joint so that the thigh is still in place.  Next, cut the wings off, to the joint between the wing and drumette.  (It’s easy if you’re not timid to manhandle it a bit.  A little knife work to cut through the meat and then a good crack with your hands makes it a quick job.)
The rest of the chicken can go into the oven like a regular roast.
The wings, drumstick(s) and neck go into a pot, with just enough water to cover them.  (If you’ve got some accessories like carrots, onions and celery, this is a good time to add those too.)  Simmer it all together for a couple hours until you can reach in with a fork and basically pull out the skin and bones, leaving the most tender bits of meat behind, sitting in a bath of the tastiest broth on earth.  (Some like to strain it all to ensure no small bones or mushy veggies are left in.) Don’t underestimate how much meat is on the neck and how flavourful it is. (tip to parents: little kids fingers are especially deft at stripping the meat from those tricky little bones and they love being useful-make the most of it!)
From here you can build the rest of the recipe to your specs.  I usually just toss in whatever hearty vegetables and appropriate herbs I have around, however much water it will take to cook those and let it all party in the pot together until it smells like heaven and tastes even better.  

By now, the roast chicken has likely been through one or two meals and there may not be enough meat left on it to try to get a whole other meal, so you can add any leftover from there to the stew pot as well. 

I realize this is really basic chicken cooking and for you seasoned cooks out there, is a waste of reading time, but everyone likes to get the most for their money and this is guaranteed to be one of the best ways to have the least amount of waste.

Pair this stew up with some of my Mom’s homemade bread, with farm fresh butter and molasses and I am in my happiest of places. J

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