Saturday, December 02, 2006

The Way to a Man's Heart

This week, I decided to cook and freeze some chicken breast, so bought two very large chickens (OK not free-range but from what I saved I think next time I may be able to afford them). The larger the chicken the more flesh on the breast. In total the pair cost under £8.5op which sounds a lot but it worked out a very worthwhile buy.
Before roasting, I removed the legs, which gave me four drumsticks and four thighs which I then froze. The winglets and any skin and oddments I kept chilled to add to the stock I would make the next day. The two chickens, with their breasts still on the bone, I roasted.
Tip: Stand the bird on a grid over the roasting tin in which has been poured about a pint of water. Tent the bird loosely with foil - this prevents the juices burning on the base of the pan, also the steam keeps the flesh moist, and the juices in the pan give a good start to the gravy making. Add more water as it cooks out.
If not used for gravy, scrape the cold, jellied remains in the roasting pan into the stock pot to give added flavour. This also helps the stock to set more firmly.

When the birds were done, I cooled and chilled them to make them easier to carve. The sliced meat filled 6 small polybags which I then weighed before freezing: a total of just over 2 lbs.
Now here is the punch-line. I checked my supermarket statement and a couple or so weeks ago I had paid £2.99p (lets say £3 for ease of division) for one pack of cooked chicken breast that weighed all of 120g which converts to just over 4 oz. This meant the home-cooked gave me 8 packs worth for which I would have expected to pay £24 over the counter.
Deducting the price of the chickens gives a theoretical profit of around £15.50p. Not only that, I had also the worth of the remaining chicken portions, plus 2lbs of chicken flesh picked from the carcass and winglets after making the stock. Not to mention the stock itself. Plus chicken dripping which makes wonderful savoury pastry. Seems to make the profit margin nearer £20-£25.

If the above seems a lot of work - well it isn't. Think of it as well over £20 earned for not much more than one hours work, and this taken over 2 -3 days. Half an hour jointing and preparation time ( cooking time I don't take into account as I was watching TV), next day a further 15 minutes carving and bagging up. Then later, 15 minutes spent picking-the-meat-from-the-bones.
And for my next trick I will cook, carve and price up cooked ham. Watch this space.

I once worked with John Tovey who gave me this recipe
Ticket Office Pudding (aka Sticky Toffee Pud) (F)
8 oz (225g) stoned dates, chopped
1 tblsp. instant coffee granules
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp bicarb. soda
1/2 pt boiling water.
Put the dates in a bowl with the rest of the ingredients, stirring in the bicarb. soda last.Put on one side. Then make the rest of the pudding:
4 oz (110g) softened butter
6 oz (175g) caster sugar
3 eggs, beaten
8 0z (225g) self raising flour
Cream together the butter and sugar and slowly beat in the eggs. Fold in the sieved flour.
Pour in the date mixture with its liquid, and carefully fold the two mixtures together, then pour into a greased and lined 8" tin. The mixture will be runny.
Bake for approx. 1 1/2 hrs at 180C, 350F, gas 4. Remove from oven and pour the topping on the top..
Butterscotch Topping/Sauce
3 oz (75g) soft brown sugar
2 oz (50g) butter, 3 tblsp. double cream
Put all into a saucepan and gently heat until the sugar has dissolved. Pour over the hot pudding and return to oven or put under a grill until bubbling. Or pour over the pudding and leave to get cold. Cut into slices and freeze. This will reheat in a microwave. Serve with extra sauce and/or cream.
Note: This is such a rich pud. it could serve up to eight people.