Jan Norris: Food and Florida

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Recession Dining: 1 Chicken, 2 People, 4-1/2 Meals

January 13th, 2009 · 4 Comments

I didn’t set out the other night to stretch a $6.89 rotisserie chicken. I was in a hurry for dinner, and didn’t have time to roast my own bird. I went to Publix and got their lemon-pepper chicken, arriving in time to see them packaging them off the rotisserie for the commuters to grab, like me, for a quick-fix dinner at 7. At home, I baked some potato halves, roasted an acorn squash and heated some leftover green beans. I had some fresh tomatoes, so I also made a salad. We ate the last of the cranberry sauce from Thanksgiving, too. With a nice sauvignon blanc, it was a comfort meal for us.

But we barely ate a third of the chicken, so I wrapped it up and saved it for the next night – when I made a pot pie. So easy and delicious. “Easy for you,” my friend said.

Really simple — I told him. Anybody can do it. I had frozen homemade turkey broth in quart and pint containers from a carcass I got at my father-in-law’s house at Christmas — a “recycled food” present that I’ll take any day. I put a pint of the broth on a simmer in a pot. You could use canned vegetable, chicken or turkey broth — no problem. About 2 cups, but don’t fret about exact amounts here.

In a skillet in a tablespoon or so of butter, I sauteed a thick slice of onion, 1 stalk celery, 1 carrot – all chopped small – and a potato – small dice, along with about half a clove of garlic, minced (enough to cover my knife-tip; a whole clove would be too garlicky). Once the onion was cooked, I put the vegetables in a bowl where I had pulled off half the leftover cut-up chicken meat, which included breast and thigh meat. I stirred a little flour (1-1/2 tablespoons, maybe) into 1/2 cup of the stock, and, once dissolved, stirred that back into the simmering stock. I added a little half-and-half, maybe 2 tablespoons, to make it more creamy, and brought the heat up to medium. Once the sauce was thickened, I spooned in the bowl of chicken and vegetables, then a good handful — 1/2 cup – of frozen peas and corn, mixed. (you could use any leftover vegetables).

I cooked it briefly, seasoned it with salt and pepper to taste, and poured it into a deep 10-inch pie pan. I covered it with a sheet of thawed puff pastry and baked it for about 20 minutes at 400 degrees. (You could use refrigerated pie crusts, or canned crescent rolls or biscuits – any number of toppers). It was another simple dinner in about 45 minutes, including baking time. We had a salad, and ended up with one serving leftover for my lunch.

Still going

But I still had a leftover chicken with about 1/3 of its meat – and the carcass. Tonight, it went into a pot with a can of chicken broth and water to cover. I removed the skin first, then cooked the meat off the bones and strained it. I put the meat back into the clean broth, and this time, it needed no other seasoning. I added a little onion, a few leftover peas, and let it simmer briefly. I didn’t want plain noodles in it, or rice — so I looked in the freezer and came up with some smoked mozzarella and artichoke ravioli that I had bought on sale — I think it was $3.89. I cooked the ravioli, drained it, and added it to the soup, with a little shaved Parmesan on top. A salad and garlic bread completed the meal. We dined like kings — again! Not more than 45 minutes.

I have two more servings from the leftovers of this ravioli-chicken soup combo. So $6.89 for a chicken, divided by nine meal plates — can’t beat that at the dollar menu board. It would have been cheaper to cook my own bird, likely, but not by much. And rice rather than ravioli would have saved money, too, but I never set out to do this for a money stretcher story. I just needed to use it up.

Here are three other off-the-cuff ideas for leftover chicken meat:

  1. Chicken Tex-Mex casserole: Layer the chicken between tortillas in a casserole dish, with refried beans, a can of Ro-Tel tomatoes and a little taco seasoning; top with cheese and bake.
  2. Barbecued chicken sandwiches: Add barbecue sauce with chopped onions and a little bacon to the chicken meat in a pot. Cook until hot; serve over toasted, buttered buns with baked beans on t. he side.
  3. White bean soup with chicken: Add leftover chicken meat to chicken stock or broth, add a can of cannelini beans, some sliced mushrooms, chopped garlic and onion, and simmer slightly. Squeeze 1/2 lemon in it. Season with chopped parsley, a pinch of thyme and serve with grated Parmesan.

Search Google for leftover chicken, and you’ll find hundreds of other ideas out there. Don’t waste that carcass, though!

Tags: Recipes: What's Cooking!

4 responses so far ↓

  • 1 jimmyb // Jan 13, 2009 at 11:58 am

    She ate the cranberry sauce!!!!…I can’t stand the stuff!! All the other meals turned out Really Good! I was amazed at how many meals we got from the roast chicken…Good Job Jan!! By the residents where I work ( Devonshire @ PGA National) eat tons of cranberry sauce…weekly! YUCK!!

  • 2 jordan // Jan 13, 2009 at 11:16 pm

    Jan – It’s funny that you mentioned this. I went to Costco last week and grabbed one of their rotisserie chickens with the same idea in mind – several tasty and quick meals from one chicken. (I think they’re only $4.99 there – but alas, no special flavors.) I plan to make a soup with part of my next chicken.

  • 3 Matt // Jan 14, 2009 at 8:30 am

    Chicken pot pie is yummy.

    We have used the leftover rotisserie chicken to make chicken and dumplings. Day two of the chicken is usually chicken nachos. You’re right, we usually get three or four days worth of food out of the chicken.

    —Matt

  • 4 Roast Chicken – Comforting Rainy-day Meal // Apr 26, 2010 at 11:27 am

    […] the easy way out of cooking today, and I think I’ll go with a roast chicken. It will make several more meals for a 2-person family, fill my freezer with more chicken stock – always needed – and make my house smell […]

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