Friday, February 26, 2010


The last incarnation of the chicken was, of course, stock.

Laura and I have a stock bucket on the bottom shelf of our freezer. We throw onion skins, about-to-go-bad celery and carrots, and leftover fresh herbs we know we'll never use right in, almost like a compost. When the chicken carcass comes, we're always ready.

I hope that making stock becomes almost routine in our house, as stock is expensive. If you're looking for further instruction on making stock, I've already posted about it here.

The question then, of course, became, "What to do with the stock?" Stock freezes great, so we managed to hold off about a week before breaking out the larger of the two containers. I went for an old favorite, the Orzo and Spinach Soup with Chicken Meatballs. I posted about it when it was still weather inappropriate. With all the snow we've been having, I think it might be just the right time. If you use the homemade stock, chances are your stock won't be as salty as one from a store. Be sure to season well.

And there you have it--four meals (Roast, Enchiladas, Salad and Soup) from one bird.

As a side note, I want to point out that this is my 100th post. What started out as a conversation between Alex and myself has grown to include seminarians, friends, family and (as revealed this morning) a former teacher. While it has never been my goal to have more than three or four people actually read this, I want to thank those of you who keep me cooking and baking, and on occasion, talking about Jesus.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Chicken Salad.

Chicken salad isn't very photogenic.

I couldn't get one good shot--try as I might--that wasn't blurry. Maybe that's because chicken salad isn't meant to photographed. It is meant to be eaten.

I really like chicken salad, provided it doesn't have eggs. When you make it yourself, you can safe-guard against things like this. This recipe comes from SmittenKitchen, using some more of the leftover white meat from our "I made a whole chicken" series, but is certainly inspired by a Karen Hunter recipe.

Cherry Chicken Salad Tea Sandwiches. Just the name makes my tummy rumble. We get to eat the crusts we cut off--I have a hard time sharing and, if I'm not the one making them, taking advantage of whoever is offering.

This chicken salad recipe could very easily be swapped out with dried cherries, however, might be too chunky for tea sandwiches. I ate it between slices of toast, in a bowl over lettuce (as shown), and, in my most desperate moments, out of the bowl with a fork.

Cranberry Walnut Chicken Salad
from Smitten Kitchen
serves 4-6

4 cups cubed (1/2 inch) cooked chicken (about 1 3/4 lb) (I halved the recipe and used about 2 cups from the roast chicken)
1 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped
1 celery rib, diced into small bits (1 cup)
2 or more tablespoons finely chopped shallot (I skipped this)
1 cup dried cranberries
2/3 to 3/4 cup mayonnaise
3 tablespoons tarragon vinegar, if you have it, or champagne or white wine vinegar works well, too (you know, we have about 4 different kinds of vinegar, and none of these. I used red wine vinegar)
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh tarragon or herb or your choice (I used parsley)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Really complicated directions: Toss together all ingredients in a large bowl until combined well.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Chicken Enchiladas with Pumpkin Sauce

My dear friend Addie loves pumpkin everything. Pumpkin lattes, pumpkin scones, pumpkin colored hats--she is in heaven when fall arrives.

Just the other day, she was lamenting the disappearance of pumpkin both at Starbucks and everywhere else. I tried to find her a pumpkin muffin at Au Bon Pain the other morning and found she was right.

Thankfully, I keep a can of pumpkin puree in the cupboard at all times, as one never knows when a muffin craving will sneak up on me. When I saw this recipe in Everyday Food's new book, Great Food Fast, highlighting pumpkin as a savory flavor, I was curious to try it again. The best thing we ate in Lesotho, in my opinion, was roasted pumpkin. When combined with mashed potatoes, it was heavenly.

It is also true that I love enchiladas. Having the chicken already on hand, I decided to try it.

It was surprisingly good--with a little salt. I under seasoned the dish in all regards, as it lacked both salt and heat. I regretfully de-seeded the jalapeno chile and forgot to season the sauce before baking. The pumpkin sauce ended up tasting a little bland by my standards, but done right, I think this could be a real winner. And perhaps satisfy Addie's love of pumpkin past the fall.

Enchiladas with Pumpkin Sauce
from Great Food Fast
Serves 4
1/2 roast or rotisserie chicken, skin removed and meat shredded
6 scallions, thinly sliced
Coarse salt and fresh ground pepper
1 (15 oz) can pumpkin puree
4 garlic cloves
1 jalapeno chile, quartered
1 teaspoon chili powder (though I added more, and some cumin)
2 1/2 cups water
8 corn tortillas
1 1/2 cups (6 oz) grated sharp white cheddar cheese

1. Preheat the oven to 425. In a medium bowl, combine the chicken with the scallions. Season generously with salt and pepper; set aside.
2. In a blender, puree the pumpkin, garlic, jalapeno, chili powder, 2 1/2 cups water and 2 teaspoons salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper until smooth. Pour 1 cup of the sauce in the bottom of an 8" square baking dish.
3. Lay the tortillas on a work surface; mound the chicken mixture on half of each tortilla, dividing evenly. Roll up each tortilla into a tight log; place seam side down over the sauce in the baking dish.
4. Pour the remaining sauce on top; sprinkle with cheese. Place the dish on a baking sheet; bale until the cheese is golden and the sauce is bubbling, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes before serving.

Everyday Food mentions that you can assemble this dish up to 8 hours ahead of time, covered with plastic wrap, until ready to bake. Just add a few extra minutes to the cooking time.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

A whole chicken.

When I was in high school, I did musical theatre. Surprise, surprise.

During dress rehearsals, the week before the show, Mrs. Hunter (the caterer I work for) would generously come and feed us. I remember looking forward to dress rehearsals for that reason alone, and guessing all day what the menu would be.

Would it be her famous chicken dijon? Or the chicken and olive pasta salad I loved so much? And, as always, we prayed for her perfect chocolate chip cookies.

One infamous day, that is still referenced a great deal, I was standing backstage and hear someone yell, "A WHOLE CHICKEN!"

Yes, Mrs. Hunter had brought us individual roasted chickens with red potatoes and haricots verts. People thought this was the fanciest, most special and most delicious thing they'd ever eaten. And at that moment, it probably was. After spending so much time in a high school auditorium, singing and dancing for 8 hours after school, "grateful" doesn't seem to cut it. We probably should have dedicated every show to Karen Hunter Catering.

When our subletter Jeff moved in to Laura's room, I wanted to go all-out for our first meal. Because, in my mind, a whole roasted chicken is the most special thing, that is what I did.

Being that the chicken was so big, I turned a lot of the white meat into chicken enchiladas with a pumpkin sauce and cranberry walnut chicken salad.

There's no recipe for this chicken, other than to say I rubbed the outside with copious amounts of butter, seasoned heavily with salt and pepper, and baked according to the label. I'm excited to find other ways to season and flavor the bird, now that I know a little bit more about what I'm doing (when I read "remove the giblets", I almost panicked. Little did I know, they were already pre-packaged in a bag that I simply had to pull out).

This 6 lb. chicken fed us for an entire week--between the enchiladas and chicken salad, as well as the dark meat (which Jeff ate) and the stock from the carcass--for only $5.

The next few posts will be about this chicken's journey, from roast to stock.

Monday, February 1, 2010

More salmon to love.

After Laura moved out, I spent a week or two alone in the apartment. This meant that I was cooking for one again--never an easy task.

But when you're only cooking for one, more expensive cuts of meat and fish are much more affordable (remember my obsession with mussels?). I decided to try out the new grocery store in my area's fish counter, and was handed this salmon. Not the prettiest cut, but it definetely cost less than $5.

I found a recipe for a hoisin glaze and decided that I would go all out with the Asian theme. To complete the meal, I made a salad with leftover greens, an orange and some carrots (shredded by the mandoline), topped with a homemade dressing. The dressing was a combination of sesame oil, soy sauce, ginger and garlic. I steamed some edamame and made some rice to accompany the salmon, though bok choy or broccoli would have been great here, too.

The salmon, of course, is what we're really here to talk about, though.

This hoisin glaze couldn't be easier to prepare and by baking it again, there's not a whole lot you have to worry about. The original recipe uses salmon steaks (8-10 oz and 1 inch thick), and broils them about 4 inches from the heat source for 10-13 minutes.

Salmon with Hoisin Glaze
Serves 1
from Everyday Food: Great Food Fast

1/2 Tb fresh orange juice
1 Tb Hoisin sauce
1 teaspoon honey
Salmon filet, about 8 oz.
Coarse salt and fresh ground pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 375. In a small bowl, whisk together the orange juice, hoisin sauce and honey to make a glaze.
2. Rinse the salmon filet and pat dry. Season with salt and pepper. Place the filet on a baking sheet or in a baking dish and brush generously with the glaze.
3. Bake for about 15 minutes, until opaque in the center.