Saturday, October 22, 2011

Stretching the Organic Chicken

On Thursday, I asked Hubby to go to our organic grocery store and buy a free-range chicken. He wasn't too happy about doing this, but he did, and when I got home from work, he held the packaged chicken up, pointing at the price, saying, "Seventeen dollars." I knew the chicken was going to be more expensive than the chicken sold at the grocery store we usually frequent, but I also knew the taste would more than make up for the overall cost. I also had a plan for getting more than one meal out of this expensive purchase.

So late yesterday afternoon, I set to work. With the help of my now-favorite cookbook, An Everlasting Meal, I placed some carrots, celery, onions, and herbs in a pot. I put the chicken on top of these ingredients then covered it all with water. For about an hour, the chicken and veggies simmered, filling the house with an aroma that rousted the boys from their bedroom and brought them downstairs, exclaiming, "What is that wonderful smell?"

While the chicken was cooking, I mashed up some mostly rotten bananas and made banana bread to have with our meal. While the bread baked, I went to work creating an appetizer of thin slices of rosemary and olive oil bread topped with very thin slices of Honeycrisp apple and dollops of melted pecorino cheese. I urged the boys to try the ensemble. Within a matter of minutes, the bread, apple, and cheese combo disappeared. My oldest returned to the kitchen today to make more of this delicious dish for his lunch.

The chicken finished cooking after about an hour of simmering, so I pulled it from the pot and let it rest. Into the pot I put more carrots, celery, onions, potatoes, and fennel. These I let cook in the stock until the veggies were just softening. With a slotted spoon, I removed most of the veggies to have with our chicken. The boys helped set the table, after which they added the veggies, chicken, and banana bread. It really did look like a feast. Upon the first bite, Hubby conceded that the free-range chicken did indeed taste better than the usual grocery store chicken, but he still wasn't pleased at having to spend $17 for one chicken.

I smiled and did some math: $17 to feed four people is $4.25 each. Plus, now that I had the stock which still had veggies in it, I could add more veggies, some noodles, and all of the chicken I could pick off the carcass to make soup, giving us another meal. That would mean the $17 would have gone to make 8 servings, costing about $2.13 for each. With the soup, there will be the added expense of more veggies and the noodles, but those are pennies on the dollar. In the end, the $17 chicken not only gave us extra flavor but also less worry about ingesting pesticides, antibiotics, and other unwanted chemicals. Hubby rolled his eyes at the last part; he's not the pesticide, anti-antibiotic, chemical warrior that I am. But he did like the idea of getting two meals out of the one chicken. Very economical as well as tasty.

That's what An Everlasting Meal, by Tamar Adler, is all about: getting the very most out of your money in these trying times. I really like that idea.

1 comment:

J said...

That is awesome! And I did something very similar with a $10 chicken yesterday! (Fed five on it last night, and soup for us the rest of the week.) Like yours hubby, I'm not as worried about all the icky things we're ingesting... I am just lucky to feed everyone something they'll eat. Soup for us tomorrow night!