Thursday, February 14, 2013

Magic Chicken

How can a chicken be magic?  When you can take one chicken and get multiple meals out of it, that's how.  When chickens are on sale, I will buy the biggest one I can find, sometimes more than one.  

I put that chicken in a large stockpot of water with an onion, some carrots, celery, a dozen or so peppercorns, a bay leaf, a little salt and a little minced garlic.  I bring it to a boil and then turn it down to a simmer.  (**helpful hint-use a slotted spoon to remove the grayish foam that will come to the top as it cooks) I will simmer it until the chicken is done.  I will pull the chicken out and it should fall off the bones.  I will put the bones back into the pot, there is loads of flavor in the bones, and continue to let it simmer.  I will let this cook down until it is about half of what it started as.  The longer that you let it cook, the richer the chicken broth will be.

Once the meat is cool enough to handle, I will shred it.  You will be amazed at how much shredded chicken this will make.  Then you can package it in meal sized portions, using good freezer bags to ensure that the meat comes out of the freezer in as good a quality as it went in.  

When the chicken broth is to your liking (taste it, that's the only way to be sure of the flavor), let it cool a bit and then strain it.  Some people do this through a cheese cloth lined strainer, I generally just use a fine mesh strainer when it is just for my family.  Then I put the broth in good freezer bags, some in large bags for chicken soup or chicken & dumplings and some in small bags for gravies or even to use in boiling potatoes for mashed potatoes.

The size of the portions will depend on what you are intending to make.  For my family of 4, I will package about a cup of shredded chicken for things like chicken and yellow (saffron) rice or for chicken & dumplings or chicken noodle soup.  I will put more if I am making shredded chicken bbq or chicken salad.  

So you see, a whole chicken that would feed a family once if you fried it can now make multiple meals for your family.  I know that I generally get at least 6 meals off one whole chicken plus all the sides that can be made from the smaller amounts of broth I put in the freezer.

There you have it:  A magic chicken!  Enjoy!

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