A tale of one chicken...and three dinners

This is the tale of how one chicken sent our sniffles packing and fed us for three dinners straight.

The rain rain rain came down down down. Big, floppy drops; windy, blustery sprays, mild drizzly rain -- we got it all. A real *treat* in California. 

The storm created the most ideal puddle hunting conditions. 

Geared up relatively well, we headed outdoors to let the rain fall down on us and splash up around our legs as we skipped and jumped in puddles. 

Home and happily drenched, we threw our clothes in the dryer. Then, I made a huge sharing plate of sloppy hash-browns (a recipe I'll capture and share another time).

On Monday, I heard a scattering of sneezes around the house. Oh dear. 

The best way I know to ward off a cold is to consume hot broth. Making the broth with a whole chicken, is especially nourishing. Plus, the chicken can be turned into multiple meals. 

Whole Chicken Stock

This stock recipe is not entirely mine. It is a combination of what I grew up watching my mom do, with some wisdom from Alice Waters and other tips around the web thrown in. 

My mom always used to the carcass of a chicken, leftover from roast chicken dinner, to make her stock. That is a fine way no doubt. It is a method I used often too. Making stock using a whole chicken creates incredible flavorful and healthful stock. The chicken meat is poached in the process, and that is purely delicious too.

1 whole chicken, including any giblets (about 4 pounds)
5 carrots, washed and broken in half
1 onion, halved
5 celery stalks with greens, broken in half
1 head garlic
10-15 black peppercorns
A few sprigs each of parsley, rosemary, sage, thyme tied in a bundle 
1 fresh bay leaf
2 strips of lemon peel, being careful not to include bitter white pith in peels
2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar, to help extract nutrients from chicken

Place chicken in a large stock pot. Cover with cold water (being cold is important in not rushing the goodness). You'll want the water to be at least 2 inches above the chicken. Add vegetables and herbs and add more water if room permits. Bring just to a boil. Then turn down heat to a low simmer. You really only one the odd bubble to pop on the surface of the stock as it cooks. Keeping the simmer low, controls the oiliness of the stock.

Cook at this low low simmer for 3-5 hours. Turn the heat off and separate the stock from the other ingredients. Remove the vegetables first. Then, carefully remove the chicken and store in the refrigerator for use later in the week. 

Comfort soup with croutons

Dinner the first night takes advantage of the stock. After seeing a bowl of this brothy concoction on Alice Waters' Instagram feed, we created our own version. Here's what we did.

To six cups of the stock, I added three peeled, seeded and diced tomatoes. I threw in two garlic cloves, thinly sliced. Create croutons by slicing a sourdough baguette thinly, rubbing a garlic clove across the top and bottom of each slice then brush on a little olive oil and place on a parchment paper covered baking sheet. Place the sheet in a 400 degree oven. Then toast the croutons for approximately 10 minutes, turning once to ensure both sides are evenly toasted.

Poached chicken coconut curry

1 tablepoon cocnunt oil
2 carrots, washed, peeled, diced
2 Yukon gold potatoes, washed, peeled, diced
1 onion, diced
1 garlic clove 
1 tablespoon curry powder
2 teaspoons turmeric powder
1 can of light coconut milk
1 fresh bay leaf
1 cup frozen peas
2 chicken breasts previously poached and diced
Salt and pepper to taste

In a saute pan, heat the coconut oil over medium high heat. Add the onion and cook until slightly translucent, season with salt and pepper. Add carrots and potatoes and cook for 5-6 minutes. Add the garlic, curry powder and turmeric and cook to bring out the fragrance, about 1 minute. Pour in coconut milk and bay leaf, then simmer for 15 minutes. Fold in the chicken and peas and cook for an additional 10 minutes. 
Serve with Basmati rice and roasted cauliflower (I made a salad).

Chicken French dips

Night three, we had chicken "French dips," with the broth serving as an au jus. A good "dip" sandwich is all about the roll. We like slightly soft ones that soak up lots of broth but hold their form too. To the broth, I add a tablespoon of sherry, some fresh thyme and a little grated ginger. I let that steep for 15 minutes so that the flavors come together. It is a meal that can get on the table in no time flat. We have a simple salad on the side.


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