How to stretch a chicken, and a bottle of wine, during a Pandemic.
For Jeff, Sarah & Mike. Love you.
What's for dinner (during a pandemic?)
Chicken Soup 8 cups
Chicken Salad 6 scoops
Chicken Stock 6 cups
Chicken Fat Butter 1/8 cup
Frozen - Chicken Soup 8 cups
Frozen - Chicken meat 3 cups
Frozen - Chicken Stock 6 cups
Carrot and Celery Sticks
1 whole chicken
1 bunch celery
3 limes or lemons
1 pkg fresh herbs
1 bottle white wine (okay maybe 2)
salad greens or spinach
Step 1 - Chicken Stock & Meat
In a large pot, heat 2T olive oil on high until sputtering & popping. (cover if needed)
Put 1 whole chicken (fresh or defrosted) into hot oil and brown for 3-4 minutes on each side. After both sides are browned, pour in enough hot water to cover the entire chicken and legs. Turn heat to low and let it just sit there doing nothing until you're ready for the veggies in Step 3. When you take chicken out of packaging rinse it off then close your eyes, reach inside it and remove plastic pouch of yucky giblets. Open your eyes and run outside to the nearest garbage and deposit. Never ever use them in stuffing no matter what!
STEP 2 - Veggie Tops & Tails for Stock
If you don't have time to make the MOST DELICIOUS stock and chicken and are okay with JUST TASTY stock and chicken you can simplify and skip this veggie step moving directly on to step three.
Take all the Veggies you have on hand or bought. You're literally going to use the odds and ends, tops and stems to flavor your stock and then you'll remove them later. You don't have to chop to any particular size and some things don't need cut up at all.
In a medium bowl
2 Onions (cut off just the ends and the peels and put those in the bowl to USE them) Then take 1 of the remaining onions and chop it up, add it to the bowl too. Keep the 2nd peeled onion for the later.
1 Bunch celery. Again chop off everything you might otherwise throw away and put it in the bowl. Meaning the ends and the entire base. Remove the little stocks from the middle with the flowery greens, those have great flavor! Chop those tasty bits and add to the bowl. Keep the long stalks of celery for later.
8 Large Carrots. Same as the celery. Trim off the ends, and the peels if you want. Save all of that (you don't even need to chop it up) Again, keep the long stalks of carrots for later. I put them in a pitcher together with the celery stalks and some water and set them in the fridge so they stay crisp.
Add anything else you may have around - garlic skins, broccoli stems, apples or potato peels... I try to save these things during the week as I'm cooking. I do not use bell pepper stems or seeds even though it is pictured below. The cat added it, not me.
STEP 3 - Turn it up Baby!
SAY HELLO to the chicken waiting on the stove. Turn it up to High until water boils for 1-2 minutes. (NOTE: you could start here and make stock like this from a pre-roasted chicken carcass, after you've taken off most of the meat.) Add all of the veggie odds and ends into the pot of boiling water and chicken. Throw in any small bunch of herbs if you have them, like thyme, fennel, oregano.... Add 1T. salt. EXTRAS if you have them - The juice of a couple limes or lemons will make it taste bright. Add a cup or two of white wine if you have it. Drink a cup as well. We're all home in quarantine, you should enjoy...
Step 4 - Get Down for a few hours
Turn the heat to low. You should have a little movement in the water, a tiny bubble of a boil perhaps, but the point is to simmer all of this deliciousness together for 6-8 hours.
Step 5 - Ding Ding- Chicken Meat is Done!
After 6 hours (and how many glasses of wine did you have?) remove the chicken meat. Don't let this step fool you. You're not done simmering you're just going to remove the chicken meat so it doesn't get too dry. However, if at this point you are bored you can consider your stock done as well and skip to Step 7. Shoots and Ladders!
Set a large sturdy colander or strainer on top of large bowl (I do it in the sink in case I spill. Okay, I always spill.) Carefully bring your hot pot of chicken and stock to the sink. With a large spoon and fork or tongs, lift the chicken out of the pot and set it into the strainer. Yes, it will fall to pieces which is exactly what it's supposed to do!! Pick out what meat you can and return all the bones & skin back to the pot with the veggies. Wash the strainer and bowl for use again in Step 9.
Step 6 - Boil them bones
Place the pot back on the stove, turn up to Medium and boil the chicken bones, skin and all the rest for another 2 hours. (Gah, I know! That's forever! Nah, we're on pandemic time. You got this.)
Step 7 - In the meantime... let's process the chicken meat
Take the chicken from Step 5 out of the strainer and place onto a plastic cutting board. Bone out the meat. Put the bones and any liquid that dripped through the colander into the pot in the sink all back into the boiling stock pot. Divide the chicken meat into three equal parts.
1- chicken for chicken salad - chop into small pieces, put into a medium mixing bowl
2- chicken meat for soup - chop into large chunks, put into small bowl and refrigerate.
3- chicken meat for freezer - do not chop. Put it in an open freezer ziplock bag and set it aside to cool before freezing. Remember to label and date for future reference.
Step 8 - Chicken Salad
Find the celery, carrot stalks from earlier and remaining onion. Take out 2-3 Carrots and 2-3 celery stalks and chop finely. Chop 1/2 of remaining onion. If you want, also chop 1 C nuts (walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds) and 1-2 apples. Put everything into the medium bowl of chicken from above. Add juice of 1/2 small lime or lemon and 3/4 C mayonnaise or more to taste. 1/2 t (teaspoon) Salt and pepper. Stir together. Cover and refrigerate. Or have a snack! Use an ice cream scoop for the chicken salad to create a nice presentation. Serve on a bed of greens and tomatoes. (Note - While you're chopping here you could also chop for Step 11 (the soup) and just set it aside. Or do ALL of the chopping for everything at Step 2, noting the different sizes, if you know you were making all of the recipes and organized. This might also be before you start drinking the white wine which generally does not mix well with chopping. Not telling you what to do...just saying...)
Step 9 - Strain the Stock
Turn off the stove and remove the stock pot.
Set your large bowl (again in the sink) with the before mentioned sturdy colander on top and slowly pour the contents of the stock pot though it. For the most flavor, use a potato masher or, even better, your very clean and sanitized hands, to push out all the juices from the veggies and bones. You may have to pour half of the stock from the bowl into a second bowl. Remove the colander, throw out the depleted contents, wipe down your bowls full of delicious stock, cover and refrigerate for 1 hour (or up to 3 days if you decide to drink the rest of the wine, binge watch Netflix and go to bed. It's still a pandemic after all...let's be real. There's no rush.
Step 10 - Chicken Fat Butter (and frozen stock)
The best idea ever! Take your 2 bowls of stock from the fridge. Skim off most of the layer of chicken fat and goodness that covers the top. Leave some for soup- it's important for flavor and to fill you up. Put the fat into a small container to store in the fridge. Use it like you would olive oil to saute veggies, cook your morning eggs or on fresh bread.
* Take half of your chicken stock and save it for later. Freezer zip lock bags work well and can be frozen into flat packets to save space. (You can use it to make a different soup, for example add a can of coconut milk, the chicken you just froze, another squeezed lime, some rice... Yum.)
Step 11- FINALLY - Chicken Soup!
Yes, you could put all of this in a pot and cook it up at once. I'm picky about the texture of my veggies and pasta and don't want them mushy so I do them separately.
So here's the long way...
In stock pot, boil water for 1/2 box Penne pasta and cook as directed for al dente. Strain and set aside in strainer.
In a small saucepan on low heat, saute' 1/2 chopped onion in 1T chicken fat butter (or olive oil) for 10 minutes. Add 1/2 cup wine (if there's any left. If not open another bottle, it's a new day in quarantine...) and cook down for another 5-10 min.
Take the remaining stock and pour it back into the stock pot, bring to low boil. Add remaining 2-3 Carrots (chopped into 1inch chunks) and 2-3 Celery stalks (chopped into 1inch chunks) Add salt and pepper to taste and cook until carrots are firm but not crunchy. Add the final portion of chopped chicken from Step 7 as well as the Penne or noodles. Cook one minute until piping hot and serve. Garnish with a little fresh parsley and serve with hot loaf of bread (and your special Chicken Fat Butter!
*Take 1/2 of the soup aside to cool and freeze for dinner another night.
Success!! Your final results will feed you and your friends for a couple weeks!