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Ta muchly for visiting. Here you will find musings, ramblings and a few statements of fact. They say women can have it all, motherhood, careers and crazy social lives. But what if we don't want it all? What if we want some of it sometimes and other bits not so often? Here I'll mix and match as the whims and energy levels take me. Your tuppence worth is always welcome!

The mask...

The mask...
Life is for loving and living no matter what it involves...

Monday, 7 March 2011

Finger licking good

No, no, no, we're not going to be talking about the delights of fried chicken in a secret recipe coating (hormonally tempting though it can sometimes be) that if they are to be believed is the sole creation of a nice old Southern gentleman. Really? A colonel you say? Well I never. We're talking chicken plain and simple. This is one bird that deserves a place in every kitchen. Let's list the good points:
  • Healthy (well it is when grilled or boiled but even fried or roasted it's better than other meats)
  • Versatile (you can cook it and eat it in so many ways it's like this bird wants to be eaten I swear - it has wings and yet it doesn't fly much? Hmmm)
  • Economical (there ain't much waste with these birds, right down to the bones)
  • Darn tasty (most especially when fried but let's not dwell on that point as we're still attempting 'the healthy eating regime')
As a family food staple you can't go far wrong with our feathered clucking friend. Unless you don't go in for the flesh of animals of course and then you'd be so far wrong that you may as well enjoy the trespass into the dark side. A good bit of chicken, like a top slice of bacon, has been known to topple more than a few veggies in its time; all hail the conquering hero. It is a taste temptation.
Moist, tasty and great value; the bird with the mostest.
Regulars of this blog will know that the aim here is to have much fun or indulgence as possible on the least amount of cash; and in this increasingly recession-heavy climate who doesn't what that? So how does chicken fit in? Especially if you've been Jamie O guilted into purchasing the flesh of birds that have skipped and danced in neverland before landing on your plate - blimey their lifestyle costs more than mine it would seem. Still, they do taste better for it. The key to maximum chicken value is a full on roast. 

A large roast chicken can provide three dishes for four folks which is both nifty and thrifty. So, we start with a roast and all the trimmings (left over veg can either go into bubble or as I did here, into the soup). There are three meals which scream Great Britain and a big old roast is top (followed by a full fry up and fish & chips) whether it be beef, lamb, pork or bird. It's gotta have a Yorkshire pud, stuffing and some bacon wrapped sausages no matter what; no purist plates here thanks. Roast the bird french style with a lemon up its bottom and basted in butter and garlic - leaves you with super moist meat gently flavoured. Just rub a bit of butter all over it every 20 mins until it's been in the oven an hour, then add 6 cloves of garlic (don't peel them just shove them between the breast and legs) and a last bit of butter and let it cook till its done. Delicious. There is something so calming about the tradition of a proper roast dinner; Sunday ain't Sunday without it.

Once the roast is finished strip the bird of all the flesh you can find (we're experimenting with portion control so it helps with the leftovers) and take half for the soup. Shove the bones into a pan of water with a couple of bay leaves and a few sprigs of rosemary & thyme (or put in some dried herbs) and boil for at least an hour. Then here's a recipe for a nice soup...
  • 2 large carrots chopped small
  • 2 sticks celery thinly sliced
  • 1 leek sliced
  • 1 onion sliced
  • 1 courgette chopped small
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1 can canelli beans
  • all the left over veg including the roasties all chopped up chunky - if there isn't much left on the veggie front then add 1 medium potato chopped and a big handful of either fresh or frozen greenbeans.
Once the bones have boiled take out the carcass and fresh herbs and give it a once over for any escaped morsels of chicken, set these aside if you find them. Then add all the veggies and boil for about 45 mins.  Add the tinned veg and let cook for another 10 mins. You can add a bit of tomato puree if you want it to look a bit more orangey but it'll be fine without. Once all your veggies are cooked throw in the reserved cooked chicken and you're ready to serve. Because of the small ones I don't add salt to the main pot but sprinkle to taste in the bowl. This soup is great anytime of year, you can just use spring veg to make it lighter as the sun gets warmer - although as we're talking British summers we're straying into wishful thinking.

Two down and one to go... spoilt for choice with the last bits of chicken really. In summer I like to chop it small with the left over sausages in bacon and stuffing, mix it with a bit of mayo and enjoy some luscious sandwiches. But there are so many other uses...with broccoli in a fritata, mixed with spinach in a creamy white wine sauce with pasta, combined with chorizo and peppers with rice to make a cheats paella...on and on it goes and where the list stops nobody knows...

Three times the taste for the cost of one simple bird - now that is So Good.

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