Wednesday, April 23, 2014

'Take One Chicken...'

Several readers have requested the chicken recipes (four meals from one bird), so will be giving two today, and two in the next blog.

Sorry to read Cheesepare, you didn't care for the Beanfeast Mexican Chilli. Have to say I always slice/chop plenty of onions before adding the dry mix, along with a can of tomatoes, extra chilli powder and a can of red beans once it has cooked for 15 minutes.  It certainly does taste like 'the real thing' when a little cooked mince beef has been added.
When I make up the Beanfeast Spag Bol I also start off with frying onions, then add the dry mix, plus a can of chopped tomatoes (or better still a carton of passata), then stir in cooked minced beef towards the end.  Extra flavouring added by a good dash of HP sauce and also Worcestershire sauce.
Sometimes I'll also saut√© some finely diced carrot and celery in when frying the onions before I add the Beanfeast.  If I feel it needs more 'beefing up' then I'll add a spoon of Bisto Best gravy granules.

With the additions (given above) one pack of Beanfeast (99p) will make at least four good portions and it freezes very well once cooked.

Not sure if I gave recipes in Home and Freezer Digest Mary, but if you do have some back numbers you might find the 'chatty' articles I wrote for them, mainly about my life-style and general thoughts.  These were towards the back part of the mags.  Think I wrote about ten - standing in for their normal 'correspondent' who was taking time off.

After writing down all the contents in the organic veggie box delivered yesterday, this morning compared the prices against those on the Tesco website.  There were only a couple or so that were organic, the others the supermarket stocked were 'ordinary' ones.  Because the ones I had were all loose (not in bags), I compared like for like, and although I could have bought some cheaper in larger bags (carrots etc), was very surprised (and mega-pleased) that the supermarket total cost and the veggie box were very close (the organics costing less than ¬£1 more - and delivered free).

Although the Riverford website details gave fennel as one of the veggies, my box did not contain any, but the contents can vary according to the region.  As it happened what I did get pleased me more. 
In the box were  7 large tomatoes on the vine, 2 aubergines, 1 large red bell pepper, 1 large green bell pepper, 1 big bunch of asparagus,1 big crisp-head lettuce, 1 Savoy cabbage, 1 cauliflower, 4 large leeks, 8 onions, 2 very large beetroot, 13 carrots, and 8 large baking potatoes.

Have to say that I'm now getting better at making sure I eat at least five-a-day, and aiming to improve on that.  Today excelled myself because I was preparing a selection of veggies for B to cook in his stir-fry, and blanched extra to cool and add to my own salad, so I ended up with a mixture of tomato, lettuce, baby spinach, rocket, watercress, radishes, peppers, cucumber, apple, shallot, cauliflower, sugar snap peas, carrots and mushrooms.  That's FOURTEEN in total.  
In most cases there was a portion of each, but as it made a lot I divided it up into 'brunch' and 'early supper', finishing off the last as a later 'snack'.  Have to say I feel very healthy tonight.

As it's already late, (exactly midnight as I write) will finish with two of the chicken recipes.  The article was based on using the flesh from a roasted chicken that weighed 4lb - this giving around 2lb of meat once cooked.  Also more flesh that can be picked from the carcase and wings once these have been used to make chicken stock, and although the cooked chicken used in the recipes added up to slightly less than 2lb total, obviously not taking into account the 'picking's, several of the recipes could use this surplus flesh, leaving at least enough of the 'good stuff' for another meal.  So that means one chicken could be enough to serve five meals to four people.  In fact one of the recipes serves 8 - 10.  So does that mean an extra meal (of the same one)?  Now we could make SIX meals (24 portions in total).  Oh, yes, I have the bit between my teeth....let's make it 30!!!  Not yet sure how, but if we include chicken and vegetable soup it won't be that difficult.

Had to smile when I read the recipes as in the 80's chickens came with giblets, and I also used these for stock, and at that time was more concerned with making the most of a chicken, rather than working out how much the rest of the ingredients would cost.  I didn't take into account that not everyone would have courgettes for instance.  Even so, because I was (and still am) a cost-cutting cook, none of the recipes worked out expensive then or even now.

This first recipes uses noodles, not the Chinese but the Italian ones called 'tagliatelle' (only at that time I didn't know the proper name), and although the cooked chicken is some taken from the roasted bird (the oddments from thighs, drumsticks etc) instead it could be the cooked chicken picked from the carcase after making chicken stock.

Chicken Meatballs with Noodles: serves 4
1 courgette, peeled and chopped
4 - 6 oz (100-175g) cooked chicken, finely chopped
2 slices white bread, made into breadcrumbs
1 tblsp grated onion
a pinch of mixed herbs
1 egg, beaten
Freshly ground pepper
3 tblsp sunflower oil
4 oz (100g) mushrooms, chopped
4 tblsp plain flour
15 fl oz (425ml) milk
2 tblsp tomato ketchup
8 oz (225g) noodles (see above)
1 oz (25g) butter or margarine
2 tblsp chopped fresh parsley
Mince the courgette and add to the chicken (or mince the chicken and courgette together).  Stir in the breadcrumbs, onion, herbs, and egg. Season with pepper, then shape into small meatballs (about 2cm).
Heat 2 tblsp of the oil in a large frying pan and cook the meatballs, shaking the pan so they roll around and brown evenly. Remove and drain on kitchen paper.  Add the remaining oil and fry the mushrooms for about 1 minute then stir in the flour, mixing it well into the mushrooms before slowly adding the milk.  Keep stirring to prevent lumps and simmer until smooth.  Stir in the ketchup and cook until thickened.  Return meatballs to the pan (of this sauce) and cook until heated through.
Meanwhile, cook the  pasta as per packet instructions (until al dente), then drain well and return to its saucepan with the butter (or marg).  When this has melted, add the parsley and toss well so the pasta is coated.   To serve: put the pasta into one large serving bowl (or four individual bowls) and spoon the meatballs and sauce over the top.

Second chicken recipe is a stir-fry, and again the chicken could be that picked from the carcase. The fresh vegetables can be varied, use what we have that is suitable for a stir-fry: baby sweetcorn, mangetout/sugarsnap peas, mushrooms, carrots, bell peppers, celery, cauliflower, green beans...

Oriental Chicken: serves 4
6 fl oz (175ml) water
1 tsp cornflour
1 tsp ground ginger
2 tblsp soy sauce
1 tblsp runny honey
12 oz (350g) mixed fresh veg (see above)
3 tblsp oil
1 large onion, cut into wedges/chunks
2 tblsp salted peanuts
8 oz (225g) cooked chicken, chopped
1 tsp five spice powder
boiled rice, to serve
Mix together the water, cornflour, ginger, soy sauce and honey, then set aside.
Slice carrots into matchsticks, chop the pepper and celery, and mix with the green beans and sweetcorn (or chop/slice other chosen veggies - all need to be much the same size to cook evenly). Place the prepared veggies in a steamer over a pan of boiling water, cover and steam for 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat the oil in a deep frying pan (or wok) and fry the onion until transparent (about 3 minutes), then add the steamed veggies and peanuts and fry over high heat for 1 minute, stirring constantly.  Stir in the chicken then lower the heat and add the cornflour mixture.   Simmer for 4 minutes to thicken the sauce, turning the veggies/chicken so they are evenly coated, then stir in the five-spice powder.   Serve at once with boiled rice (or Chinese noodles).

Tomorrow the final two recipes will be the Chicken Terrine (serves 8 - 10) that uses only 8 oz (225g) cooked chicken; and Chicken and Sweetcorn Parcel (serve four using 8 oz/225g cooked chicken).
By now, with years more experience behind me, I'd probably manage to use a little less chicken and a lot more veggies (my way of making those extra meals).  Feeding the five thousand on five loaves and two fish (or was it two loaves and five fish?) might not have been that difficult after all.  Much depends on the size of the fish (one whole tuna goes a long, long way) and maybe if cut into thin 'fingers' each coated with a few breadcrumbs - well, that's at least one Fish Finger per person.  Miracles can happen when we put our minds to it.

That's it for this Wednesday night, at least have managed to get the blog published in time for an early Thursday morning read.  More recipes and chat this time tomorrow.  Bye for now. xx