Well, I never thought this would turn into a cooking blog, but as Frank promised this post on my behalf, I guess I’d better follow through. 🙂
To preface this, I should say firstly that I learned the value of using up good leftovers from my mom, who raised 4 kids on a shoestring, and from the Tinsley House, which was a working farmhouse at a living history museum where I volunteered/worked when I was a teenager. If it weren’t for them, I’d probably be pitching bucket loads of good leftover food like the rest of the developed world (but don’t get me started on that tangent!).
Since I came to Ireland, Frank and I’ve not had much money. In a way, the recession hasn’t hit us as hard in terms of our basic needs because our 3 + years together have often been dictated by what we could do most cheaply. Thus, the birth of my 1 chicken/3 meals. Below are the following recipes that show one of my favorite ways to pinch pennies without sacrificing enjoyment. (Photos by Frank)
Day 1 – Thursday
Roast Chicken and with vegetables and gravy. Note: A small (3.5 lb) chicken will last the two of us for all of these recipes, but for families of 4 or more, you will need a bigger bird.
I most often use the Best Roast Chicken recipe from William Sonoma/Cooking Light (my sister Bonnie turned me on to this one), but as I didn’t have the exact ingredients this time, this is what I did instead: Rinse whole chicken and pat dry. Rub a mix of salt, pepper and a little olive oil under the skin over the breasts. Rub the cavity with salt, pepper, thyme, marjoram and a little crushed bay leaf. Put a quartered lemon in the cavity and tuck the legs and skin over the opening. Mash up a large clove of garlic with a Tablespoon olive oil, thyme and salt to taste. Rub this over the outside of the bird.
Place the chicken in a roasting dish with some washed new potatoes. (I like to add onions and carrots to roast as well, but we didn’t have any this time.) Put the uncovered chicken into a preheated 425 degree F oven for 20 minutes, then turn the heat down to 350 degrees F and roast for another hour or so. Chicken is done when the juices run clear (if you pierce near the leg joint) or if a meat thermometer inserted into the thigh registers at least 165 degrees F (I like to err on the side of caution and go 170 – it should still be moist enough). Let the chicken rest 10 minutes or so on a cutting board before carving.
If you like gravy, pour the leftover chicken juices into a pan, skim off as much fat as you can, and heat up. Add salt and pepper to taste and thicken with a flour/water mix.
Serve chicken with roast potatoes, a side veg and the gravy.
When you’re finished eating and your husband has done the dishes, go back to what’s left of the chicken. (We usually have over half left.) Pick all the meat off and put in a container for the fridge. Strip everything off that bird! There’s meat in the wings, legs, thighs, and even back! Then put the leftover bones, carcass and skin (I only use some of this, but to each his own) in a pot filled with water and simmer for the rest of the evening. If you have more carrots, onions and celery to add to the stock, all the better! If not, it will just be a weaker chicken stock but still useable. Don’t forget some salt and herbs. When you feel like the stock has simmered long enough, strain out the bones and bits and store in the fridge. When you go to use the stock, it should be jellied with some solidified fat on top (which you can skim off).
Day 2 – Friday
It’s Risotto time! I learned this one from Jamie Oliver and have adapted it to my own tastes.
Chicken and Rasher Risotto (serves 2 -3)
600 ml chicken stock (just use the one you made, or you can dissolve some stock cubes)
1 Tbs olive oil
A knob of butter
1 small onion, finely diced
1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
1 C. risotto rice
1 glass dry white wine (plus some to drink while you’re cooking this ;))
1/3 C. grated fresh parmesan cheese
2/3 C. cooked chicken, cut into small pieces
1/3 C. Mushrooms, chopped (optional)
2 Rashers or pieces of bacon, cut into small pieces
Chopped fresh parsley, to serve
Heat the stock and have close to hand. In a separate pan heat the olive oil and butter, add the onions and garlic and fry very slowly for about 15 minutes without coloring. When the vegetables have softened, add the rice and turn up the heat.
Keep stirring the rice for a minute or so, until it looks slightly translucent. Add the wine and keep stirring. Once the wine has cooked into the rice, add your first ladle of hot stock and a good pinch of salt. Turn down the heat to a simmer and keep adding ladlefuls of stock, stirring and allowing each ladleful to be absorbed before adding the next. This will take around 15 -20 minutes. Don’t forget to taste the rice once in a while for flavor and to see if it is cooked. Carry on adding stock until the rice is soft but with a slight bite. If you run out of stock before the rice is cooked, add some boiling water. When the rice feels almost done, add the mushrooms to cook, and a minute later, the chicken and rashers/bacon, so these will heat through.
Once the risotto is al dente, remove from the heat and add another knob of butter and the Parmesan. Stir well. Place a lid on the pan and allow to sit for 2 minutes. Serve with extra Parmesan, fresh parsley and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
Ta da! Done and done.
Day 3 – Saturday
As another tribute to the Tinsley House, I love to make Chicken and Dumplings with leftover roast chicken. This is also a great meal because you can pretty much make the soup part out of whatever vegetables you have in the house. For a special treat, I also made a Tinsley House peach cobbler with some canned peaches that were taking up space in the back of the cupboard.
Chicken and Dumplings (serves 2 – 4)
1 liter of chicken stock (use whatever you have left and if you need to add more water and a stock cube, go ahead)
1 large carrot, chopped
1 parsnip, chopped
1/2 small turnip, chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
1/3 C. frozen petite peas
1/2 C. cooked chicken, cut into pieces
Salt, pepper, and herbs to taste (I used thyme again in this one)
Heat the stock in a medium sized pot and add the vegetables. Boil for a few minutes. Once the veggies are about half cooked, add the chicken and seasonings and reduce heat to a simmer. Wait for the liquid to reduce so that it has more of a stew consistency rather than a soup consistency – if that makes sense. Then you can add the dumplings.
Dumplings (ala Betty Crocker)
3 Tbls butter
1 1/2 C. self-raising flour (or regular flour with 2 tsp baking powder and 1/2 tsp salt added)
3/4 C. milk
Cut butter into flour using food processor, pastry blender or two knives until mixture resembles fine crumbs. Stir in milk. Drop dough by spoonfuls into hot chicken stew, trying to hit the meat and veg, not dropping directly into the boiling liquid. Cook uncovered 10 minutes and then cover and cook for 10 minutes longer.
Serve your Chicken and Dumplings and enjoy! Done, done, done.
Peach Cobbler (serves 6)
(the one pictured above is a half portion of this recipe, so it looks a bit skimpy)
1/2 C. butter
1 C. flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 C. sugar
1 C. milk
1 can sliced peaches, juices reserved*
(*we put some of the peach nectar in glasses with the leftover wine from the risotto… sort of like a peach bellini without the bubbles!)
Melt butter in a medium/large cast iron skillet. Mix dry ingredients and stir in milk to make a batter. Pour batter into melted butter and spoon peaches even over batter. Bake 30 minutes at 350 degrees F or until golden and done. Serve with cream or custard.
Bonus: Day 4 – Sunday
There was just enough chicken left for Frank to make a sandwich with cheese, lettuce, and my mom’s special salad dressing.
Ann’s Special Salad Dressing (actually from Fran Symms)
1 clove garlic, minced
dash dry mustard (or squirt of prepared)
1 tsp. salt
1/3 C. ketchup
1/3 C. sugar
1/3 C. vinegar
1 C. oil
dash ground cloves, or two whole.
Shake all ingredients in a jar with a lid and leave in the fridge for a few hours to infuse. Shake again before serving. This will make a big jar of dressing that will last a couple weeks.
…So what are we having tonight, you ask? Leftovers… of leftovers! Mmm, can’t wait. As you can tell, these are all good comfort food recipes, just perfect for a chilly February evening like this one. Feel free to play with the amounts and ingredients to your own taste… that’s how I arrived at what we like!
P.S. Sorry for any vegetarians out there (ahem, Claire) – but most of these recipes CAN be adapted, just use veggie stocks and take out the meat. And just ignore the whole Day 1. 🙂
P.S.2 If anyone needs UK/Irish measurements for these recipes, just drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.