Food cooking and eating – stories and ideas from a passionate foodie

Archive for May, 2013

The 4 day chicken

The 4 day chicken…

Baster - essential for roasts

Baster – essential for roasts

This is all about making our food pounds go further.  Two years of bad weather in the UK has made food inflation one of the biggest concerns in these recessionary times.  Here’s some ideas of how to stretch a chicken to give you 4 days of food for two of you (and for a family of 4 if you get yourself a bigger chicken!).  We waste a lot of food in the UK – estimated at £700 a family each year.  £4 billion pounds just wasted.  My ideas for stretching to 4 days with one chicken kills two birds with one stone (bad pun!) – saving you money and time.  And this is still all about having good food, that is tasty and nutritious – and fun!  Recipes can be found in my book, from Amazon – Can Men Cook?

Day 1 – the aim is to have an excellent and hot roast, with lovely crisp skin. The clever bit is to cook twice as many roast vegetables as you need.  This is like ‘intentional left-overs’.

Day 2 – a repeat dinner.  This is microwave and speed heaven.  Re-heat the vegetables first.  Carve some breast for each of you, and plate that out.  Heat that on each plate, for 1 min 30.  Take enough of the left over gravy and put into a jug, and heat that (It doesn’t work if you put it on the plate – trust me).  Then plate it all up.  Ready to roll in 10 minutes flat.  What a great Monday evening treat.  You may even have a glass of wine left over too – heaven!  A lot of good cooks from the war years onwards were used to having their Sunday roast as the mainstay of Monday’s dinner.  Shepherds pie, with the lamb minced that was left over ; Cottage pie – for beef left overs.  We have lost this skill – but with a chicken, it is a lot easier, because there is no mincing to do!

Day 3 – Chicken Risotto.  I assume you have some gravy left.  This goes well in the risotto, adding a really strong chicken flavour.  You need to pull as much meat off the chicken carcase as possible.  Risotto (see full recipe back in The Hob and all in one pot section in the book) has lots of mushrooms and tomatoes in it, so you don’t need an excess of meat.  You may be surprised at the cereal bowl full you get.  Make sure you get the lovely oysters from under the bird – they are really tasty.  If it looks like just enough, then chop it all up and throw into the risotto when you have put all the liquid in, then stir it around a bit.  But don’t throw the carcase away.  You need to break it in half – just twist it, and put it in about 1 ½ pints of water in a large saucepan with a lid, bit of salt and pepper, some of the onion skin and a chopped carrot plus any leftover gravy.  Let that bubble away for a couple of hours, and then switch off.  This is embryonic chicken soup for the soul.  When it has cooled a bit, lift out the carcase and all the other bits into a bowl.  Pull off any bits of meat that are now there for the pulling, and put them into the liquid.  Recycle your carcase if you have a compost waste collection.  Transfer the chicken stock to a smaller pan, and keep it in the fridge until tomorrow, after it has cooled to room temperature.

Day 4 – yes, the broth you boiled up last night is about to become exciting.  It will be gelatinous when it is cold.  Take 1 or 2 ounces (max) of pearl barley, and mix this in.  Heat the soup and allow it to simmer for one hour.  Put any extra bits of chicken if you still have any left over.  If there is lots of liquid, you can leave the lid off so it concentrates up a bit.  A bit of spring onion chopped finely adds a kick, and some finely chopped and butter fried mushrooms are nice too.

SO, a posh chicken is the essential starting point here. I use free range ones from my butcher – expensive per chicken, but cheap per meal.  It is also kinder to the birds.  I couldn’t do this with a 2 for £5 chicken deal.  I have no idea what they have done to them for such a price – just too cheap to boil them – it would concentrate the chemicals, I think!

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