Thursday, January 31, 2013

Results from the roast chicken!

A new format, to cater to my friends in the scientific community :)

Remember a few days ago I made a whole roast chicken? It was almost 7.5 lbs. I was so psyched when it came out and tasted pretty good. But then I started to think, "What am I to do with all this chicken? Dan and I aren't going to eat 3 lbs each tonight..." I also began to worry about the fresh celery I had. I didn't want it to go bad. My root veggies will keep for much longer. So I began to plan...

Experimental Procedure 
Dismantling a chicken
What did I think about? Well, first off I remembered a good cook saves the bones/carcass of the chicken to make stock. So I started cutting off the meat. That took about 15 minutes (I had to fight with a couple leg joints) and was a greasy adventure. I placed the meat in one freezer bag, and the carcass and bones in another. The bones went into the freezer, and the meat into the fridge. I had a lot of both white and dark meat. Triumphant after dismantling my chicken, I returned to the pan to collect the drippings. I got about two cups (including some fat floating around). This went into a storage container and into the fridge. Never forget how much flavor the drippings to your roast bird will have!

Chicken Stock 
I put my thoughts about my chicken on hold for a day and sorted out what to do today (1/31). I started by making chicken stock. I took the drippings I had refrigerated and skimmed the fat off, which was solid and easily removed from the top of the drippings. I tossed the rest in a 5 quart stock pot with my chicken bones (covered in cold water) and simmered it for half an hour. To the stock I added the following (for flavor, not to eat): the peels from the carrots I roasted with the whole chicken, bits of onion I would've tossed and the tops of the celery stalks (with leaves and all) I cooked w/ the whole chicken. I found that people throw these things out (especially potato and carrot peels) but many people use them to flavor their stocks. After another half hour the stock was done and I strained out all the bones and bits of veggies. This made about 8 cups.

Chicken Soup - 8 servings
Now I put the stock back on the burner with a cup of rice, one large fresh sliced carrot, one stalk celery and left over diced onions (0.5 cups) from earlier in the week (which I had frozen). I let this simmer with some salt (2 tbsp), thyme and oregano (tbsp of each) for about 30 minutes. Proportions are up to you, and how much you want. The recipe I had called for specific amounts of rice and veggies, but I just went with what I wanted. Then I added in most of the dark meat from my chicken and leftover roast veggies (from when I made the whole chicken) and cooked for about another 15 minutes. It made about 8 servings of soup, half of which I will freeze on the morrow.

Chicken Salad - 4 servings
The chicken breast I had I diced up (about 2 cups of bite sized chunks!), with some celery and onion. I added some Miracle Whip (mayo if you hate MW) and voila! Chicken salad. Since most of the rosemary butter spread I rubbed on the whole chicken remained on the breast meat, I had an herbed chicken salad instead of a plain one. Score! I suppose you can also add herbs yourself, but it was one less ingredient I had to add so that's a plus in my book (even if accidental!).

Results and Conclusions
Dan liked it all, and between the first meal and what I made today, we got 15 meals from one bird. I am pretty excited since it cost less than what I normally spend on just chicken breast, and we got a lot more food from it. The different parts also forced some variation from grilled or baked chicken breast. Some dark meat once in a while is tasty!

Though pretty tasty, the soup needed a little more salt. I also wish I refrigerated the stock overnight so that I could skim some of the fat off. I skimmed a lot off the drippings, but I didn't take into account what came of the carcass and bones. It wasn't super greasy, but there was a little that could've been removed. I was just excited to make chicken soup, and get a few days of food cooked in one night. All the veggies were thoroughly cooked, so 30 min of simmer time was good. I did slice my carrots about the same thickness as canned carrots. If you do thicker or smaller, you can adjust the time so they cook longer or shorter.

The chicken salad was good. It's a pretty simple dish, and there are many other things that can be added. I looked for some grapes at the super market, but they had slim pickings for too high a price. I mean, those grapes were tiny! Golden raisins are good too. We ate it on its own, but you can put it on lettuce or celery stalks if you want.

- 75th Anniversary edition of Joy of Cooking by Irma S. Rombauer, Marion Rombauer Becker and Ethan Becker.
- Myself

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