chicken stock

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After the roasting and the eating comes the making-stuff-with-the-scraps.

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This…

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…became this…

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…became this.

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I treated myself to a fine mesh strainer a couple of months ago; I make lemon curd enough that it was cheaper than restocking the cheesecloth, which I don’t really use for anything else.

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Still warm…

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…and cooled off for skimming a day or three later.

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I got better on the back half.

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Packed and ready for soup.

… all told, I think this chicken did its duty – at least a half-dozen meals, then stock. Not bad.

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the big chicken post

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Dinner for one. No, seriously.

The Big Supermarket was having a sale on Purdue oven stuffers and, hey, nothing says ‘common sense’ like tossing an eight-pound chicken into the backpack along with ten pounds of flour and a giant cabbage when you’ve got a bad back… Which is how I ended up with an eight pound chicken. For one.

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The goal for the exercise was to produce a chicken Just Like Dad Does It, since Dad does it pretty darned well. So I called him to verify dressage (garlic powder, paprika) and temperature (375F), although he gave me very false hope with regard to how long it would take.

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More than two hours later… One purty bird. And the first instance of my accidentally managing to do it Just Like Dad Does – the onions are perfect but the potatoes are underdone.

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This was not the ideal way to make gravy, but it came out fine. I used Wondra flour, which helped, and Old Bay and other stuff and it turned out quite familiar (probably because I learned the ‘stand in front of the spice cabinet and throw in what looks interesting’ approach from the Paternal Unit).

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I made biscuits, which Dad would never do, but it seemed like a good idea at the time. They’re not supposed to be drop biscuits, but they ended up being that way.

For some reason, I don’t have a good picture of the carved bird (okay, so my carving wasn’t looking terribly pretty and I made a wreck of one drumstick), but it was fabulous. Juicy and tasty and perfect.

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Nonetheless, after a few days of chicken for lunch and dinner, it was time to get on with the getting rid of the remains of an eight pound bird that only one person has been eating.

You’re allowed to see this carcass because it’s not supposed to look pretty.

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The bird got split up into three categories – the nicely sliced meat for subsequent meals, the bits and chunks to be thrown into soup, and the carcass for making stock.

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You’ll notice the wings are in there. I don’t eat chicken wings, so they’re stock material and not a future meal.

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And then I made a cheese omelet (yes, it’s tinted green – coriander chutney) with toaster-roasted potatoes and peppers and nuked spinach.

Sweet and sour chicken

I’ve been following Jaden’s Steamy Kitchen blog for a while and Elise’s Simply Recipes for even longer, so as far I was concerned, when the former guested on the latter, there was no bad there. Jaden gave a recipe for Sweet and Sour chicken and it looked easy and relatively un-evil. Also, it had canned pineapple, which gets it an embarrassingly high number of coolness points from me; I blame the pu-pu platters of my youth.

My initial plan was to use tofu, but a very awful thing happened — my tofu went bad. Very bad. Soured tofu is not something you want to experience; it should come with a hazmat warning. It reeks. Even worse, the tofu water is even more foul and you have to get every drop of it cleaned up and gone before you can even ponder breathing through your nose again. In short, if you suspect your tofu is bad, don’t open it.

Since I’d just come back from the market when I’d realized my tofu was off, I quickly defrosted some chicken breasts and ended up making the recipe more or less as written. I used sesame oil to cook with, stuck to red peppers (the yellow and orange ones were $4.99/lb), threw in some string beans, and added a pinch of red pepper flakes.

The first step is to make a slurry with the egg white and cornstarch; I ended up letting the chicken sit for maybe half an hour; all of my pre-dinner wiggle room was used up defrosting the chicken.

I have a wok. A genuine, purchased-in-Flushing, well-seasoned wok. I just didn’t feel like getting it down.

The sauce is pretty straightforward and easy to put together. The secret ingredient is ketchup.

I’m pretty hit-and-miss with mis en place and any kind of prep-work; my main spice rack is right over the KitchenAid and right next to the stove and taking things out to put them on the counter would actually put them farther away. But I’ve gotten much better at getting items chopped up — or at least out of the fridge — beforehand. Especially for sauteing or any other method that requires a quick turn-around time.

There was a little too much sauce, at least for my tastes, at the end, so I pulled everything solid out, reduced the sauce to a more manageable level, and returned everything to the not-wok to finish up. It was excellent, both for dinner and for the lunches that followed.

see, not a vegetarian

Dinner! (And also part of lunch the next day.)

Last weekend’s grilling attempt was a success in spite of itself. Somewhat counterintuitively, I went with a smaller fire on the day I was making meat. Everything got cooked eventually, but I was adding twigs and whatnot because it was a pretty tiny pile of charcoal.

Part of my birthday present to myself was grill bling, which included a set of skewers. I picked up these, which are nice and long and, perphaps most importantly, flat, so you can easily flip the food without it twirling around with the skewer. The down side is that they are metal, which means they get hot, which means you can’t pick them up with naked paws. Considering they’re resting over open flame and I’m pyrophobic and would be using something anyway, that’s an exchange that’s fine with me. They’re solid without being heavy and easy to clean and store, so thumbs up there.

I mentioned the long, right? That’s my 9×13″ Pyrex they’re overhanging, which means you can get a fair bit on each. I marinated two chicken breasts and an onion and there’s most of a pepper plus a potato for a (not really needed) stopper.

The marinade is the same one I used on the grilled tofu the other week, which is in turn based on Deborah Madison’s Sesame-Ginger Marinade from her Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone. Adapted for, um, meat.

2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 heaping tablespoon minced ginger
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
3 tablespoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon soy sauce

I let the chicken and onion marinate overnight in the fridge, but it could work in less time on the counter.

My too-small fire… wait, can I start the Inadvertent Slow Food Movement? We can skip the wacky antiglobalization politics and junk science and just have people whose ovens aren’t calibrated/can’t get over 425F or haven’t mastered the charcoal-to-food ratio yet and like to cook anyway.

Too-small fire or not, I did eventually get it all cooked. Except the potatoes, which were still raw-ish.

As can be seen above, the kebabs were served with jasmine rice and lettuce and made an excellent dinner. And three more lunches.

Since I’m showing off my grill bling, my funky yellow gloves for chimney overturning/twig breaking/skewer lifting:

Why, yes, I did get them at K-Mart.

Also on the poultry front this week was my initial attempt to grind my own chicken. I bought thighs, which were what was on sale, but in hindsight that was a mixed blessing because I had to de-skin and de-bone. The de-skinning was easier, although I might have been a little lazy with the de-fatting because they were going to be ground. (I am normally a fetishist with the de-ickying. What I cannot de-icky, I do not eat, which is why I don’t eat as much meat as I should.)

The grinding was initially a hellacious failure, entirely because I neglected to attach the little blade to the spiral mover, but once I got that corrected, it was all good and ridiculously easy. I foresee more meat-grinding in my future.

Since nobody likes to see how the sausage gets, made, you can provide your own mental picture of a pile of ground chicken thighs (and an onion) and I’ll just get on to the end result, which was meat sauce.