Tuesday, May 10, 2011

A Chicken in Every Pot

I told my friend on Facebook the other day, after asking for her roasted chicken recipe, that one of my goals for the summer is to "learn to cook like it's the Depression." Because with three boys and one-point-two incomes, we're going to need to be creative in the kitchen. I'm starting with roasted chicken. At $0.85 a pound, it is less than a third of the price of breasts alone and Wes could really use the extra fat in the dark meat anyway. And after you eat the parts you want, you can boil the rest to make chicken stock and save even more money.

My parents came over for dinner last night, so I made them this recipe with a five-pound chicken I bought for approximately $4.75. After we carved it, found some uncooked places (Klassy! Also, grr broken meat thermometer!!), microwaved the uncooked pieces, and served it, it was delicious and moist! The potatoes were perfectly done too. I shall trademark my roasting/microwaving combo strategy and make millions!

After bedtime Ryan and I sat at the kitchen table and talked about our days while we picked the extra meat off the bones (ro-man-tic). Then I used the bones and skin to make ten cups of stock in the crockpot (OH the heated debate that occurred on my Facebook wall when I put up an innocent little appeal for stock-making tips!! Highly amusing. And informative!). TEN cups! Ten cups of stock at the store is $5! The same price I paid for the whole chicken! That we also got to eat for dinner! Bring on the Dust Bowl!

Tonight I'll make chicken soup with the extra meat and four of the cups of stock. CHA-CHING!

(I attribute this little home cooking jag to the abrupt end to the semester and resulting directionless creative energy. For lunch yesterday the kids had organic black bean and Monterrey jack tacos while I enjoyed a mozzarella and tomato sandwich with fresh basil on ciabatta bread with a side of sliced fresh pears. I am not bragging. I'm just kind of amazed because usually lunch involves yogurt and peanut butter toast for the kids and a handful of Halloween candy and a side of guilt-induced fresh fruit for me. Bon appetit!)

It's not all fun and chicken stock around here though. Do you know what your house smells like when you simmer a chicken carcass in a crock pot for ten hours over night? Like CHICKEN. Not chicken. CHICKEN. I woke up at 4:00 sure that someone had left a toy in the oven. Putting the stock away in the freezer has helped. But I'm going to make some peach cobbler too just to make sure the smell coming from my house doesn't start attracting stray dogs.

Next we'll move on to the Cold War and learn how to prepare dried beans in the crock pot. I'll be off the grid in no time!

Now, if you'll excuse me, I've got a sleeping baby and about ten hours worth of chicken smell to wash out of my hair.


Pete the Brit said...

You are just awesome!!!!!

I loved reading the fight on your status about stock vs broth. Highly amusing!

Sarah said...

LOL @ off the grid-- ha!!

I love chicken and CHICKEN, although we had a bad fish-in-the-ovn experience a few weeks ago and have vowed to grill all meat in the foreseeable future.

Katie said...

Mmmmm.. that chicken recipe was gooo-ood. I bragged to Chris beforehand about saving us $6 by using the fresh herbs from my crappy herb garden that he was adamantly opposed to. WIN for Mom! I love making my own chicken stock! I usually fill baggies and also a couple of ice cube trays for when I need just a little bit. I also liked the fight on your status. I almost posted the recipe that I used but was a little terrified. ;-)

Snarky Mommy said...

I, too, have a package of black beans just waiting to be slow-cooked in the crockpot. Let me me know your method.

And we've been making a whole chicken in the crockpot almost once a week for a while now. It's 2.5 meals, depending on what you make. So awesome for the SAHM budget. :)

Kim said...

Ha ha to the CHICKEN smell! I am super impressed by your cooking gusto. I have been very lazy lately in the kitchen. Lots of bacon because I have been too unmotivated to cook anything requiring more thought. At least bacon makes everything taste good.

You should keep an eye on Craigslist for a food dehydrator. They are pricey but super awesome and cool for preserving food. Then you could buy fruit and such in bulk. I love my dehydrator.

Phoenix Rising said...

I get meat from my sister because they live on a farm and cut up cows all the time. And I saw one neatly wrapped white package labeled SOUP BONES and my brother was all "do not be afraid" and gave me a sample of a vegetable/rice soup made from those soup bones and I. Am. In. Heaven. But, yes, the house stunk like a heated slaughterhouse. Just saying.

bonbayel said...

I was talking cooking with our Latino secretary, Anna, today. She, of course, does everything from scratch, including cooking beans. Which I then mentioned to John, who had a turn at being vegetarian, and eating a lot of beans.
He said the big problem is cooking beans from scratch is all the debris that comes along with them. (I'll ask Anna what she does. So be sure to wash them carefully. I can picture using a colander instead of a strainer, so rocks and dirt will get out. I don't know if they float, because then you could float them a couple of times in a basin of some variety to lose the dirt. I did chard recently that I didn't get washed well enough. A little too gritty...

Chiconky said...

Yay for yummy chicken! I can still remember the smell the last time I cooked a chicken in a crock-pot. Gag. But homemade stock is so delicious. I've heard noodles are easy too, though I haven't tried it yet.

Beans are super super easy. I do mostly pinto, but I figure it's all the same basic idea. Soak your beans overnight (they'll soak up a lot of water, so make sure your bowl's big enough). In the morning switch out your water with new clean water. Dump in the crockpot with salt (VERY important, about a palm-full or a little less)and a ham hock (or about a 3.5 inch diameter pool of olive oil). Cook on High all day. It'll make a ton, but they keep and freeze well. We serve them with either corn bread or tortillas. So so good!

sarah said...

I love your distinction between chicken and CHICKEN. HAHAHA!

Please keep us posted on all of your depression-era tips; I need them, too. I'm guessing Chipotle 3x a week is NOT part of the plan, huh?