Chicken dinner(s)

1 Apr

I am just loving having this blog as a creative outlet.  I can hardly stop thinking of things to do, make, and write about.  Unfortunately, that also makes it difficult to focus on my other projects, namely that Master’s degree I’m currently working.  I’m up to my eyeballs in schoolwork right now, which unfortunately means that all of the exciting things I want to read and write about have to be put on hold for those things that I need to read and write about.

Basically this is just a long-winded way of saying that content might be scarce around here for the next few weeks, although I’m hoping to find a balance between work (or school, in this case) and play.

In the meantime, here’s a cute ass picture of my favorite kitten.

And just because I can’t help myself, a quick mention of what we’ll be eating the next few days:

The other day, my Pinterest feed featured an article from theKitchn on making a five day menu plan based around a rotisserie chicken.  At our house, we’re all for making the most out of food, and out of meat in particular.  I usually save chicken bones for stock (collecting them in a bag in the freezer until there’s enough) but that’s usually where our meat thriftiness stops.  For the past week, I haven’t been able to stop thinking about roasting a chicken and making use of every last part.

Well, today was the big day and we just finished our chicken dinner.  I followed Thomas Keller’s simple roast chicken recipe, using a few modifications that I found in the comments.  In all honesty, I’ve made this recipe several times before and I always seem to have mixed results.  When it’s good, it is amazing, with everything a roast chicken should have: crispy skin and succulent flesh.  But there are times when it isn’t so good, usually because upon carving the bird, I realize that it hasn’t quite cooked all the way through.  Cooking this recipe definitely makes for a perfect time to whip out your (possibly neglected) thermometers, both oven and instant-read.  You may also want to add 10 minutes to the recommended cooking time.

I have to admit that I feel a little weird posting this photo for two reasons.  First, our camera battery was dead so I took this photo with my phone and I’m not sure it’s really “up to snuff,” as they say.  (Do other people say that too or is it just another one of those weird things my mom says?)

Second, during a culinary discussion at a recent excursion to local brewery Block 15, I lectured my dear friend Aileen about the importance of chicken trussing.  Trussing is the fancy way of saying tying it up with string so that it cooks evenly.  Everyone who is anyone recommends that you do it and I’m not usually one to go against the grain on these types of things.  That said, you may notice that this chicken is remarkably “un-trussed.”  That’s not because I’m making a statement.  It’s because the only string we have in the house right now is made of nylon.  Cooking tip #1: don’t tie your chicken up in plastic string and then put it in a 450F degree oven.

If you want more info on trussing a chicken, I suggest checking out ye olde YouTube.  One of the best how-to videos I’ve found so far stars Brian Polcyn using a slightly more advanced chicken trussing technique.  Polcyn is a Chicago chef and co-author of the cookbook Charcuterie that I currently have checked out from the library.  I love it when my culinary interests cross paths unexpectedly!

Despite our lack of appropriate restraints (by which I mean cotton butcher’s twine), I roasted the bird.  Tonight we had the legs with roast potatoes and carrots and a green salad.  After dinner, I finished carving it.  Carving is another technique that can be intimidating if you haven’t done it before.  It’s important to remove the legs first and then the breasts.  YouTube can come to the rescue on carving as well.  (It’s also great for a refresher on how to tie a bow tie, but that’s a whole different can of worms.)

After carving, one breast was shredded and went straight into a pot with a sliced onion, some homemade turkey stock, and the last of the homegrown tomatillo salsa from last year.  Tomorrow, we’ll eat the stew (which was inspired by this recipe on Simply Recipes) for lunch with some rice and beans.  The other breast went into the fridge; I’m not sure what we’ll do with it yet.  In the meantime, the carcass and wings are simmering in the slow cooker for some homemade chicken stock.

I’m not sure we’ll quite get five-meals out of this bird, but I’m feeling like I’m doing my part to be a more ethical meat eater.  Using everything this way makes buying the more expensive, free-range chicken seem almost affordable despite being on a limited, grad school student budget.  The whole free range chicken was $2.49 per pound, which is cheaper per pound than some of the pricier pieces of conventionally raised chicken.

While cleaning up from dinner tonight, I glanced in the trash can; the only part of the chicken that was in there was the plastic it came wrapped in.  I think I could get used to that.

2 Responses to “Chicken dinner(s)”

  1. David Sale April 1, 2012 at 10:38 pm #

    Chicken breasts are too tasty for stew! If you’re trying to stretch it to 5 meals, I guess…but I’d rather use the “back meat” at the base of the wings, just because there’s no good way to separate it from the ribcage. Might as well go in the pot if it’s already shredded.

    That said, I admit I usually get the pre-cooked “rotisserie chicken”…reading this makes me think it’s about time I invested in a meat thermometer!

    • castironmaiden April 2, 2012 at 11:19 am #

      I think there should be no shame in getting a store bought rotisserie chicken, especially if you use it all up! I don’t think they’re quite as tasty as homemade roast chicken but sometimes you just don’t have an hour+ to do it yourself. I looove our meat thermometer, I would definitely recommend having one if you cook very much poultry!

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