Monday, October 31, 2011

Cook: Chicken

In honor of our chickens, I'd like to re-blog: 

Roast Chicken
This is a one-pot chicken I've been making for years, trust me on the butter. It's absolutely delicious, you get the best caramalized chicken butter vegetables! I pick up the chicken when they go on sale for $5 each at the store, and keep them in the freezer. Hopefully we'll be using our own birds very soon!

What you need:
Whole Chicken
Veggies from the Fridge
Chicken Herbs (Thyme, Salt, Pepper, etc.)

I like to use potatoes, carrots, onions & garlic. You can get more creative though! Take whatever is in the fridge, peel and cut into 2"+ pieces. You can cook your chicken from fresh or frozen. I like to mix my herbs into a softened butter. 1/2 a cup or 1 stick is more then enough for a chicken. Smother the chicken with your butter. If I've got extra time I'll peel the chicken skin back from the breast meat and stuff underneath as well.

I use an oven roaster with the lid on, and turn the chicken breast meat down. Once you're nearing done you flip the bird over and remove the cover to brown the skin on the top. In the oven at 425F between 1 hour and 2 hours depending on the size of your bird. (If you start your chicken 3 hours before dinner it will take 1 hour, if you start your bird 1 hours before dinner it will take 2 hours...). Sit back and watch your kids eat their vegetables. Save the chicken bones for stock!

Chicken Stock

Store bought is not even the same animal as homemade chicken stock, it's unbelievably different. I save all our carcasses from roast chickens, wrapped in plastic in the freezer, as well as bits of raw chicken (like wing tips), until I have enough to make stock. I'll then use the stock in dishes, or as a base for some delicious chicken noodle soup.

What you need:
Whole chicken carcass or lots of bones & bits
Veggies from the Fridge
Olive oil (or butter)

You need a stock pot for this one, a nice big deep pot, or you'll be making incredibly tiny amounts of stock.

Create a mirepoix by chopping celery, carrots and onions and sautéing them in the pan with olive oil or butter. If you don't have those (and I usually don't have celery) you can use anything similar that you like. Add frozen chicken bits and bones. Add just enough water to cover the entire chicken (or if you've added way too much chicken, just fill the pot up). Bring the pot to a boil for a few minutes, then reduce to a low simmer & cover.

Using an older, whole chicken will give you the best results. I find you get pretty mediocre stock if you only have bones, adding some raw chicken in really makes a nice stock. If you want you can add 2tbs white vinegar/gallon of water to increase the amount of calcium that comes out of the bones & into your stock.

Once your stock is simmering you've got to leave it for a few hours. You want it to be at the point where the chicken is falling right off the bones. Taste test occasionally to make sure it's at the correct strength. Too weak, simmer longer, too strong dilute or finish the stock & use less when your cooking.

When the stock is finish strain it into another pot and leave it aside to cool. I also allow what is left in the strainer to cool off (usually dripping over the pot, with something covering) then pick through for the big chunks of meat. You've got to be really careful for the little bones. You can either use this meat in chicken soup or if they are being good, and sitting beside you licking their lips, I'm sure the dogs wouldn't mind either.

To store I put my stock into mason jars and freeze. If I'm going to use it right away I'll put it in the fridge. The fat all rises to the top which will seal the stock inside, but I like to use it fairly quickly once it's finished. You can either use the fat for cooking, or throw it away (or again, the dogs).

You can definitely freeze in glass jars, just don't fill them all the way to the stop, and wait until the contents are frozen to tighten the lid. Of course, you can also can your stock if you've got a pressure cooker!

(This also works great for turkey, I have 3 jars of lovely turkey stock in my freezer after thanksgiving!)

Some of my other favourite chicken recipes:
Buffalo Chicken Wing Salad with Blue Cheese
Chicken Parm

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