Monday, August 23, 2010

Making The Best of It..

Yesterday, decided to raid the fridge/freezer and use up oddments that had been 'lurking' there and could do with using up.
As B had worked his way through the chicken soup over the last couple of days, felt that more chicken stock should be made, so thawed the chicken wings frozen away each time I jointed a whole chicken. Decided at this point to take photos as I worked through the day in the hope these will show how much can be made from 'not a lot' - Shirley style.

Here you see the pic
of the chicken wings
Plump enough to give
some cooked meat
once the stock had been
made. Chicken wings
alone make a very
well flavoured stock
when cooked along
with the usual veg.

As the chicken thawed,
went into the fridge to
get some carrots and
discovered some 'old
stock' beneath other
veg in the veg drawer.
For interest's sake took
a look at the 'use by
date' on the bag.
It read 28th March!!!

The carrots seemed as good as if bought recently, so decided to use them, first trimming, then chopping them into chunks, leaving three whole to use for stock. Weighed them (more for your interest than mine - and they weighed just 2 lb). Behind the scales, can be seen two large onions and three ribs of celery in a bowl, all to be used to make chicken stock AND the evening meal (as it turned out - other things as well).

The whole carrots were cut in half and put in a pan with the top and bottom parts of the celery ribs (aka 'trimmings'), half an onion (cut into wedges) and the first layer of white flesh from the onions once the brown papery skin had been discarded (if leaving the brown skin on, this would have made the stock much darker in colour - useful when making beef stock, but not chicken). A few fresh bay leaves were also added, and the contents of the pan covered with two pints of cold water, brought to the boil, then the heat turned down so the liquid barely 'burped'. Needed to use a heat diffuser under the pan to achieve this effect. The gentler the simmering, the clearer the end result.
After a few hours, the
stock was ready.
In this pic you see a
dish of the chicken
flesh picked from the
bones, a dish of the
cooked stock veg.,
and two jugs of the
stock. For a clearer
stock would need to
strain it further.

While steaming traps flavour into vegetables, simmering releases this into the cooking liquid - and this was apparent when tasting the cooked vegetables ( seen above). Although they still look 'servable' as a vegetable, they had no flavour left in them at all, because this had gone into cooking liquid (aka stock and which makes it taste so good). The veggies still contain fibre, so if blitzed up with some of the stock, adding seasoning to taste, this sort of puts everything back together again, and thus will make an excellent soup.

While the stock was cooking, then turned my attention to the remaining carrots. My intention was to dice these, along with most of the onion and celery, and use at least some of it to add to about 5 oz (150g) minced beef that had also been thawed (but not shown).

Decided to use the food processor to chop the carrots - and this is something I had never attempted to do before, always dicing them by hand. Have grated carrots in the processor but for some reason it never occurred to me using the processor would be a much quicker way to 'chop', especially when vegetables are not needing to be neatly diced. After having this 'gadget' 20 or so years you would have thought by now I'd have tried using it to 'chop' carrots. But it hadn't.. Until yesterday.
This worked like a charm, a few carrots at a time 'pulsed' so they didn't end up as a puree. The celery and onions were diced by hand, then mixed with the prepared carrots, put into a pan with some butter and sweated off for a few minutes.

My intention was to use the veg to make a spag.bol type meat sauce, so added a can of chopped tomatoes to the veggies, (rinsing out the can with water to get every last little bit out),plus the last dregs of HP sauce in the bottle (again rinsed out), and several shakes from the Worcestershire sauce bottle. To add extra beef flavour, crumbled in an OXO cube. Realised by then there were too many carrots in proportion to everything else, but too late to do anything about it.

This pan of veggies plus was simmered until just tender, meanwhile frying the minced beef in a separate pan. Only some of these veggies were added to the meat as Beloved had chosen Chilli con Carne for supper (not spag bol after all), and as red beans would also be part of the dish, the balance of meat, veggies, beans was important.. This left me with a lot of cooked carrot mixed with a smaller amount of onion and celery.

Here you can see the
large bowl the veg
left AFTER some had
been removed and
added to the chilli.
The interesting thing
about this mixture is
the excellent flavour
it has due to the HP,
W.sauces, the OXO
and the tomatoes.

After tasting the above cooked veg, it took all my willpower not to keep on eating because it really did was packed with flavour - in other words, absolutely gorgeous, and will probably turn this now well flavoured cooked veg into yet another soup (possibly the base for minestrone), or add red beans, heat through and make a vegetarian 'chilli'. There is enough to do both.

This final pic shows
how a small amount
of minced beef, plus
some of the above
veggie mix, together
with a chilli mix, a
can of red beans and
some water can turn
into a three-portion
chilli con carne.
The chilli was much
darker in colour than
it appears.

So, there you have it. A step by step account of yesterday's Goode cooking, and hope it explains how chicken winglets (that many people throw away), very old carrots, three ribs of celery, two large onions together with a few ounces of minced beef, a can of chopped tomatoes (bought when on offer), a very cheap can of red kidney beans, and a packet of chilli con carne mix (half price) together not only made a good supper, but also provided enough chicken flesh to make something worth eating, stock vegetables to turn into soup, plus a big bowl of cooked veggies (alone this having great potential to make at least a couple more dishes), and - best of all - one and a half pints of really good chicken stock.

Other than the chilli mix, the beef (this also reduced in price), and the onions, the rest was just 'using up' what others might have thrown away.
In the Goode Kitchen every can is rinsed out and this liquid then added to whatever is made, every sauce bottle has the same treatment. Every food bought is almost always only when reduced in price or when on offer, and believe yesterday only the onions were bought at full price. The celery was 'reduced', the old carrots originally a Value pack so cheap enough anyway. The chicken wings - being taken from a whole chicken - worked out much cheaper than if bought separately (as are all chicken portions when the whole bird is jointed up at home).

Although many people probably do make their own chicken stock from wings or a carcase, maybe not all bother to pick the bones after cooking to remove any remaining flesh. As you can see from the wings, there can be a considerable amount, all of this able to be used in one dish or another.
Both Beloved and our daughter (who happened to call in while I was preparing supper) said that the chicken would make a good 'fricassee'. Have to look that dish up, for cannot remember having made this before (but as they both remembered eating it, must have done). Maybe that will be tonight's supper. If so you can look forward to photos of this being shown tomorrow.