How to Use this Blog

This blog is designed to be used like a cookbook. I've put tags on each recipe so you can go to the section on that topic just by clicking on the word in the cloud or the list. Some recipes are under more than one category to help you find what you're looking for.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

One Chicken, Three Meals, No Waste

Meal One:  Chicken and Dressing.

This is a fairly easy meal if you’ve ever done Thanksgiving.  Think of it as Thanksgiving Light.  This recipe will feed for two people, maybe four, depending on how many sides are served and how much they eat.

Buy a Rotisserie Chicken at the grocery store.  Pull off the breast meat without the skin and set it aside.  Eat the wings and/or drumstick (Meal One) while you’re cooking the rest.

(Here’s the part where you need to pay attention.  You will be either a chicken ahead or a chicken  behind.)

If you are a chicken ahead, you will already have broth in the freezer and you won’t need to use today’s chicken to make some.  If you're a chicken behind see my recipe for Chicken Broth.
If you are a chicken behind you will need to start the broth early and use that broth for today’s casserole.  Either way, I will continue with the recipe for Meal Two:

Mix up a package of cornbread.  When it’s done and cooled, crumble it into a big bowl.  Add a chopped onion and the same amount of chopped celery.  Mix this together with sage or poultry seasoning.  Then add the chicken broth you already had (you’ll have to thaw it) or the broth you just made. Add enough to make the dressing moist but not soupy. You probably won’t use all the broth.  You could re-freeze it or add it to Meal Three.

You just made the dressing part.  How easy is that?

To finish the casserole, cut up the two breast halves and combine them with the dressing. This will fit perfectly in an 8X8 inch pan.  Heat it up in a 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes.  Meal Two is now complete, you’re belching Meal One and someone is at your feet waiting for Meal Three.

If you have to make a fresh batch of broth you'll have the bones leftover for Meal Three for the dog or cat.  You have no waste and will have fed about five people and a pet.

If you’re taking  the casserole to someone’s house put it in a disposable aluminum pan. You don’t want to burden the recipient with a pan that they will have to keep track of.  As pretty as your dishes are, the whole reason you're cooking this casserole is because the recepient doesn't have the time or energy to mess with stuff like cleaning your pan and returning it to the right person 

The only time I take someone one of my nice pans is when they are new neighbors who just moved in.  Returning the pan gives them a reason to come to your house and thus begin a new friendship.  Of course, if they don’t return the pan you will know you’ve got lousy neighbors and won’t ever  have to take any more meals over to them.

Green Beans and New Potatoes

This is another one of those recipes that’s so easy and such an old standard that I wonder if I should even bother you with it.  If you are from the South you probably grew up eating this every spring.  If you are new to cooking or are from some other place you might appreciate some instructions.

In early summer when you see the green beans are ready, chances are the potatoes are, too.  Pull up the potatoes and take some of the small ones for this dish.  Clean them but you don't have to peel them.  Start the potatoes boiling in a pot with a chopped onion and a slice of bacon, a little salt and pepper.  Cut off both ends of the green beans while the rest is cooking.  When the potatoes are almost done add the green beans. Cook them for either 8 minutes or 30, depending on how old you are.  Older cooks tend to cook the hell out of green beans while younger ones prefer their vegetables crisper.

Drain everything and put in a bowl.  Add about half a stick of butter.  (OK, maybe I exaggerate but it’s really hard to ever have too much butter.  I’ve never heard anyone complain about too much butter.)

Chicken Broth

Never throw away chicken bones. You can always use chicken broth for something and here’s how you make it:   put anything left from using a chicken:  bones and skin plus odd bits of meat, cooked or raw-- into a roasting pan.  Throw in a roughly chopped onion about three carrot sticks and some celery if you have it. Add salt and pepper and enough water to cover the chicken three fourths way.  Put into an oven set low (maybe 300 degrees)  You can set this in the oven and forget about it.

The beauty of doing it this way instead of on top the stove and boiling it is that you don't have that nasty foamy looking stuff.  Recipes like this tell you to skim the foam off.  Who wants to spend their time skimming foam?  I especially enjoy the "forget about it" part.  You could check on it from time to time to add more water or stir it around a bit.  As it cooks, the bones come apart and you can move them around to submerge them all in the broth.  If things start to get dark brown that's OK--that's what you're aiming for.

That evening or the next morning you’ll have chicken broth.  Strain out the bones and small bits of meat, carrots and onion.  Give the dog the bones and she will love you forever.

Pour it into a one quart container and let cool in the fridge.  The fat will float to the top and solidify.  Scoop the fat off with a spoon.  Seal the broth in a Ziplock bag and freeze it for later.