I once spent almost an hour trying to explain to a group of women how to make chicken broth. They were absolutely clueless as to why you would want to do something like that when you could buy perfectly good chicken broth in the soup aisle at the grocery store.
When I slowed down and for the third time explained that you could use the leftover chicken, bones and all, from a whole roasted chicken to make broth, a woman bravely raised her hand.
"Yes," I asked, sure that this would be the last time I drove 40 miles to speak to a mother's group in the evening when I could be home with my family.
"Um. You mean, people actually buy that chicken with the bones?"
"It's not another species," I quipped. I kind of, but not really, regretted snapping a bit.
I admit that I was slightly older than these women, but have we processed our food so far that people really don't know what it looks like in it's true, raw form? Yes, chickens do have bones. And hamburger isn't what you hope it might be.
I was actually in a room filled with people that didn't know that they could do anything, but purchase their poultry in an economy size bag of individually quick frozen chicken breasts.
I fear for what this is doing to people. I mean, honestly, boneless anything is so expensive. Have we gotten so far away from the way that food comes that we no longer can go back to that when times are tough?
It takes less than 30 seconds to take a chicken breast off the bone. You can toss the skin and make soup or broth from the bones. You'll pay much less than the boneless skinless version and end up with much more for your money. It really is worth the time.
Or cook and roast with the skin and bone on. You don't eat either the skin or the bone (or at least, you shouldn't) and, according to the food scientist that used to do the nutritional information for my business, the nutritional information stays the same whether you cook it with or without skin and bone. Plus, the skin and the bone make chicken much more moist and flavorful.
Now go out and buy some chicken. With bones. Make me proud.
One Whole Chicken, Three Delicious Meals
You can feed a family of 4, three meals, from one large roasting hen. I usually pay around fifty cents a pound for whole chickens. I'd love to always be able to afford free range, organic birds, but that's not always a possibility for my family. When I can get them this cheap, I often buy four or five of them for the freezer.
Roast Sticky Chicken
Chicken Fried Rice
chopped leftover chicken-- you don't need much. Discard any chicken skin and reserve carcass.
chopped green onions
2 cups of raw white rice, cooked and cooled
canned or fresh mushrooms, optional
fresh bean sprouts, optional
Chop the chicken, mushrooms (optional), and green onions ahead of time. Whisk eggs until well scrambled. In a large nonstick pan sprayed with cooking spray, saute chicken, mushrooms (optional) and green onions together until chicken is heated through and green onions and mushrooms are cooked to tender. Remove from pan and set aside. Scramble eggs until well cooked, add chicken and green onions back to the pan. Add rice and stir fry until heated through. You may add a little more cooking spray at this time to help the rice separate. (not too much, though!) Season with soy sauce to taste. Add fresh bean sprouts, if desired.
Italian Chicken Soup
1 chicken carcass
3 stalks celery
2 bay leaves
1 (9 ounce) package refrigerated small cheese tortellini
1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes
2 medium zucchini, diced
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley (optional)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Throw chicken in a large pot and cover with water. Add chopped: carrot, onion, celery and bay leaves and garlic to taste. Simmer for one hour. Strain out vegetables and return to soup or discard. I always use a fat separator pitcher to strain the fat out. Well worth the investment. (I think they're officially called a gravy strainer). Add tortellini, tomatoes, zucchini, and basil and simmer until zucchini and tortellini are tender. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in fresh parsley right before serving, if desired.
Taking a little time to play with words, to play with food, and just to play!