The goal of the government during the Great Depression was to have “a chicken in every pot.” Well, there’s a good reason they picked chicken. Even though the prices on poultry have gone up, along with everything else, it’s still a bargain.
In these tough times, stretching one chicken into several meals is a good idea — and they’re less hard to find than the convenient cu-up pieces!
First, consider your options at the grocery store. Do NOT buy selected chicken parts if you’re into saving money. Split chicken breasts can be pricey. For the price of two breasts, you can buy a whole chicken or, if you get lucky, a an on-sale pick-of-the-chick package.
Of course, it depends on how you plan to use the chicken. A whole roated chicken is a magnificent feast. But if you’re looking to make soup, enchiladas, stew or something else that just calls for cooked meat, an on-sale pick-of-the-chick package can be your best culinary friend. Here’s what I do:
From a whole cut-up chicken package, I select one breast and the two legs. That makes one meal for my husband and me – on the grill, under the broiler or in a recipe, such as cacciatore). The remaining breast, thighs, wings and back go into a soup pot. Barely cover with water, add a chopped onion and a stalk of celery and season to taste. Bring to a simmer and cook for about an hour, till meat is very tender. Set chicken pieces aside to cool before taking the meat off the bones. Discard skin and bones and cut meat into bite-sized pieces. Use the chicken meat for the above-mentioned purposes (pot pie, enchiladas, etc.) You’ll have some left over (at least a cup or so). Continue to simmer the broth in which the chicken was cooked till it reduces down to about a quart. Cool and refrigerate, along with remaining chicken meat. On another day, reheat the stock and add vegetables, such as carrots, celery, onion, zucchini, whatever you like) and reserved chicken meat. Throw in a handful of noodles or rice if you want a starch in the soup. Cook till veggies are tender and rice or pasta are, too. Add chicken meat, taste to correct seasoning, and serve. You’ll probably have leftovers for another meal.
That’s potentially four meals from one chicken (for 2 people). So what are you waiting for? Get a chicken for your pot.
For lots of recipes calling for cooked chicken meat, check out www.foodnetwork.com/recipes.