02 November 2011

1 Chicken, 3 Meals

From the Chef ~ Easy Standards, Part I

1 Chicken, 3 Meals

Have you ever been over
to a friend’s house
and the food just ain’t no good?

I said the macaroni’s soggy,
the peas are mushed,
and the chicken tastes like wood!

I hear you, Sugar Hill Gang!  Sadly, it’s true:  that’s how chicken usually tastes.  Unless prepared just right, chicken is just really, really hard for me to do.  When it’s not too dry, it’s too greasy, too much of nothingness, or even slightly yucky.  But then I discovered whole roasted bird and some of the standard spin-off dishes that come with it.  I never took home economics, but with this thrifty triumvirate of time, effort and budget, I attempt to make Betty Crocker proud.  This is basic stuff, but a worthy reminder that it takes just one bird to fill out a huge chunk of your weekly menu.

Meal #1:  Roasted Chicken.  Buy a whole chicken.  A 4-5 lbs. free range bird will still only set you back $10 or so.  Rinse, pat dry, and salt and pepper the cavity.  Chop an onion and some fresh herb (I like celery greens or parsley and thyme or bay or sage), pack the cavity, and seal both ends with wooden skewers.  Salt and pepper outside, set in an oven on pan that will catch drippings for 1.5—2 hours (visit CasaFioreOnline.com under Nov. ‘11 for exact cooking times).  When leg moves freely, bird is done.  Carve and serve with some of the drippings.  Roast a few potatoes and enjoy!

Cooking times (taken from Better Homes and Garden New Cook Book):

2-2.5 lbs.     375 degrees     1-1.25 hours
2.5-3 lbs.     375 degrees     1.25-1.5 hours
3-4 lbs.        375 degrees     1.5-2 hours
4+ lbs.         375 degrees     2 hours

Meal #2:  Chicken Soup.  Brown the innards that come with a chicken, cover in a cup or two of water, and let simmer for 1-2 hours.  Cut up leftover bird, sauté some carrots, onion, and celery, add broth and seasonings, throw in some potatoes or noodles or beans, simmer a bit, and let it warm you up. 

Meal #3:  Chicken Enchiladas.   Shred leftover chicken.  Fill tortillas (I like corn) with chicken, shredded cheese, and store-bought enchilada sauce.  Ladle more enchilada sauce on the bottom of a baking pan and fill with enchiladas.  Top with more sauce and cheese, bake at 350º for 15 minutes, and serve with sour cream and a Negra Modelo or a Bohemia.

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