Saturday, October 22, 2011

One Chicken, Three Great Meals

I see many benefits to buying local, happy chickens and storing them in my freezer. This week I realized how easy it is to stretch one of those largish birds (just under 6lbs.) into three weeknight meals. I'm usually not one for economizing when it comes to food, but this week I was quite pleased with the idea of using one bird three different ways.

I already mentioned the first meal: Mark Bittman's Curried Chickpeas and Cauliflower with Chicken, which I made by chopping up one leg, thigh and partial breast of my still mostly-frozen chicken. I saved the bones for later.

Next came another Bittman recipe, Anise-scented Poached Chicken with Squash which I shared in an earlier blog, except this time I had a kabocha squash, so I used that. I made the white-cut chicken dipping sauce to go with it, and served it with the poaching broth over soba noodles, and it was a hit with everyone.

The last day, we were down to a pretty pared-down chicken carcass, but it was enough to make into a broth, and save the meat for stew. I used the left over poaching liquid from the day before, and made a standard chicken stock:

Chicken pieces/back/neck/giblets
1 coarsely chopped onion
1 coarsely chopped carrot
1 coarsely chopped celery stalk
bay leaf
a few sprigs of fresh marjoram, thyme and parsley (still growing in my garden!)
Cover with water (in this case, I used yesterday's poaching liquid as part of the water I added) and bring to a boil. Lower heat, skim off foam and let simmer gently for two hours.

Strain solids and remove all the pieces containing meat and let them cool.

Then make the stew (inspired by the chicken stew in Quinoa 365)
1 T. chicken fat (skimmed from the stock)
1 c. diced carrots
1 c. diced celery
1 diced onion
1 t. minced fresh garlic
2 1/2 c. chicken stock
1 c. diced potato
1 c. diced kabocha squash
1 bay leaf
1/4 c. chopped fresh dill
chopped cooked chicken meat (removed from bones of chicken used to make stock) and giblets
1 c. diced sweet pepper
1/2 c. quinoa flour
1 c. cold chicken stock
salt and pepper to taste

Heat the fat and cook the carrots, celery, onion and garlic for about 8 minutes, or until they begin to soften. Stir in chicken stock, potatoes, squash, bay leaf and dill. Cover and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer 10 minutes, or until potato and squash are tender. Add chicken and sweet pepper. Remove the bay leaf.

Whisk flour and stock together in a small bowl. Add mixture to saucepan and cook until the stew thickens (a couple of minutes). Season and serve.

I served this with another batch of fresh oat rolls from King Arthur Flour's Whole Grain Baking cookbook. I'm on a roll (no pun intended, well okay, maybe it was) with baking buns. Easy peasy with the Kitchenaid Mixer!

I have to say that I am entirely sold on using quinoa flour in place of wheat flour for thickening soups and stews. The stew is actually noticeably more filling, I think due to the additional protein hit from the quinoa, and it thickens in a way that seems much less 'glue-like' than flour. And the flavour was excellent.

So there you have it. Three dinners for a family of four (although the kids aren't fully grown) out of one chicken.

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