There's no place like home.

There's no place like home.
Home is where my husband and I reside; wherever that may be.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Two chickens, endless possibilities.


When I have to do the cooking, wait I always have to do the cooking!  Okay, change that, when I am on the ball with the cooking, I try to make one effort serve for as many meals as possible. Not only is it a better use of my time but it is also more economical and easier for those who may have to fill in for me.  Take the chickens that I cooked today (actually I had MK cook them but I am the genius with the plan).



Chicken noodle soup was on my mind but I am also running low on chicken stock and am working on my thesis this week and needed to insure that time was well used.

My soup recipe is extremely easy and it also serves the purpose of getting the meat cooked and the stock made.  So without further ado....

Chicken Noodle Soup/Chicken stock

I place two whole chickens in a large stock pot (large enough that I can cover them with water).
Into the pot I put 1 onion chopped, 6-8 carrots cleaned and sliced, 3 cloves garlic, minced, 1/2 bunch celery chopped, and a good couple of pinches of kosher salt.  Cover it all with water and bring to a boil.  Turn the burner down to keep the water rolling and let it cook for a couple of hours, until the chicken is falling off the bones. Shut the heat off.   Remove the chickens from the pot to a bowl to cool.  Here is where things get efficient!!!!  Next I spoon broth into a 2-quart canning jar.  I try to avoid getting the veggies into the jar but I do want to skim off as much of the bright yellow fatty stuff on the top of the pot.  Set that jar aside.  If I am making so soup for MK that is GF now is when I will set some aside including vegetables (usually a 1 quart jar).  Into the original pot I add 1 can sweet whole kernal corn, a couple of good hands full of alphabets or some other small pasta, and a 1/2 bag frozen green beans.  (I am big on lots of vegetables!)  Let that simmer, slowly stirring occasionally so the pasta doesn't stick, until the pasta is cooked through.  After boning the chicken and reserving the breast meat from both, add the rest of the meat to the pot. Adjust salt and pepper to taste and serve.


If you don't mind chicken twice in one week, put the reserved chicken into the refrigerator to make Chicken Divan or put into the freezer for another time.

Now you have this 2 quart jar of chicken broth what are you going to do with it?  Put it away in the refrigerator over night.  The next morning take it out and immediately spoon off the congealed fat that has formed on the top.  This I feed to our pigs.  They think they died and went to heaven.  Then the rest of the broth I divide between three quart jars and either freeze for another time or put in the refrigerator if I have meals planned that require chicken stock.  
I use it when I cook rice, mash potatoes, make white sauces, and to drink when someone is not feeling well.

Finally, with the reserved chicken breasts I make Chicken Divan.  It is one of the easiest things to make and is very popular around here.

Chicken Divan


INGREDIENTS
·         Cooked chicken breasts reserved from making soup
·         1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
·         2 cups diced leek, white and light green parts only (about 1 large; see Tip)
·         1/2 teaspoon salt
·         5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
·         1 14-ounce can reduced-sodium chicken broth
·         1 cup low-fat milk
·         2 tablespoons dry red wine
·         1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
·         1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
·         1 pound broccoli crowns, chopped
·         1 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
·         1/4 cup low-fat mayonnaise
·         2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
PREPARATION
1.     Preheat oven to 375°F. Coat a 7-by-11-inch (2-quart) glass baking dish with cooking spray.
2.     Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add leek and salt and cook, stirring often, until softened but not browned, 3 to 4 minutes. Add flour (or cornstarch if you are GF); stir to coat. Add broth, milk, wine, thyme and pepper and bring to a simmer, stirring constantly. Add broccoli; return to a simmer. Remove from heat and stir in 1/2 cup Parmesan, mayonnaise and mustard.
3.     Spread half the broccoli mixture in the prepared baking dish. Top with the chicken, then the remaining broccoli mixture. Sprinkle evenly with the remaining 1/2 cup Parmesan. Bake until bubbling, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.

**** I feel as if I should include a disclaimer.  We grow our own chickens every summer for meat.  They are usually about 50% larger than the whole birds you can get at the grocery.  Just in case you think that I am exaggerating about the amount of meat that I can get from a couple of birds.  Today's chickens yielded enough soup for our family, MK, and to give to a neighbor who had surgery.  I just put away three ziplock bags full as well.

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