Wednesday, September 27, 2006

How to stretch that chicken….

I grew up in a family that did what it could to make ends meet. My dad was the main cook and he’s the one that taught me how to cook. He was a master at stretching the food budget. We grew up on chicken, ground beef, and beans and rice as our staples. We also had a garden and a lot of our veggies came from that garden.

Here is one basic way to cook a chicken and make it stretch for several meals.

Cut up a whole chicken and put it in a large pot of boiling water. (If you don’t have a whole chicken, use pieces. If you want a lot of meat, use a lot of chicken.) Add 1 medium to large chopped onion, two to three cloves of garlic, three stalks of chopped celery, two carrots cut in ½ inch chunks, three to six peppercorns (to taste), salt to taste. You can add other spices if you like. Allow your chicken to cook over low heat till the chicken is done. Take your chicken out and allow it to cool. When it is cool enough to touch, de-bone it and pull it into bit sized pieces. Set the chicken aside and use it for what ever dish you want to use it for. You can freeze it in one to two cup portions for later use or you can use it for a meal that day.

At this time you will need to strain you broth. I usually keep some empty mayonnaise jars on hand for this purpose. I have a strainer that will fit right over the empty jar. I will pour the broth into the strainer, right into the jar. If you don’t have mayonnaise jars, just us whatever you have. Discard the contents in the strainer. When the jar is full, screw the lid on and wipe the jar clean. Put it into the refrigerator and let it cool. The fat will rise to the top and harden. Once this has taken place, you can scrape the fat off and discard it. I usually put the de-fatted broth into quart sized freezer bags and freeze it for later use. It can be used for soups, gravies, casseroles or any recipe, asking for broth. Another thing you can do with the broth is to freeze it in ice cube trays. Put the frozen cubes into a freezer bag for future use, this is great for adding a little extra flavor to a gravy.

Now that you have this wonder cooked chicken, what can you do with it?

1) My sister is a master a using the cooked chicken and its flavorful stock and making Chicken and Dumplings. She will de-bone her cooked chicken, set it aside and then make dumplings with canned refrigerator biscuits. There are usually 10 biscuits per can and she will cut eat biscuit into quarters. Do your math and you will get 40 dumplings from one can of biscuits. She puts the dumplings into the broth and cooks them until they are done. She will add the chicken back into the pot and then serve.

2) ) In a frying pan, melt ½ cup butter or margarine. Add some chopped onion and one chopped garlic and cook till transparent. Add ½ cup flour and wisk till mixed. Quickly add your broth or enough milk to make a nice gravy. Add one to two cups of chopped cooked, chicken and simmer on low till the chicken is warm enough to eat. Serve over hot cooked rice or noodles.

3) Use your chicken with Chicken Helper.

4) If you are cooking with whole chickens, put the wings in a freezer bag and use them later for a “hot” wings meal.

Do you see where I am going with this? If you are on a budget you can buy your chicken when it is on sale. I like to check out the mark down bin when I am shopping and see if I can find chicken there. Several months back, I found chicken breasts marked down to 49 cents a pound. I bought about 10 packages and then put it up in individual freezer bags. I have enough chicken to last for a good while. I have been know to buy 50 lbs. at a time and take it home and put it up in meal sized portions in the freezer.

You don’t have to spend a lot of money to feed your family. When budgets are tight, get creative.

Have a great day!


At 5:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i prefer to make my own stock, i do my best to use the carcess of the chicken/turkey, basically nothing is going to waste. i also prefer to make my own soups, far too much salt in the ones from a can.

At 5:53 PM, Blogger Lucy Stern said...

BSTS - I alway use a chicken/turkey carcus when I have one. When I have a turkey carcus, I will put it in a stock pot and cook it with more onions and etc. It really does make a good stock. I agree with you.

At 11:55 PM, Blogger Michelle said...

Nothing nicer than home made "anything"...Lucy, i wonder if you have any decent recipes for jams or marmalades?

At 9:22 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog, Lucy! Great recipes for chicken. I'm going to have to try them. I can't resist creamy chicken gravy. Yum!

At 9:23 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog, Lucy! Great recipes for chicken. I'm going to have to try them. I can't resist creamy chicken gravy. Yum!

At 6:41 PM, Blogger Fred said...

I grew up eating, and loving, chicken. Mom was great at cooking it many different ways so she could feed us on her budget. To this day, I could eat it almost every day.

This is a new one, though. I'll have to have The Missus give this one a try. We loved your steak recipe, so I'm sure we'll like this, too.

At 7:55 AM, Blogger BarbaraFromCalifornia said...

As usual, your pearls of wisdom for cooking, eating, and making the most of that dollar we spend are great.

I have stopped eating dinner since the kids are gone, and usually just have a shake (except for Friday nights.) This is a new one, Lucy.

Still hoping you get a recipe book together.

At 12:19 AM, Blogger Lucy Stern said...

michelle - I love homemade anything too. I am not much into making homemade jams so I don't really have any recipes for that.

Sue - Yes, I like gravy too.

fred - Chicken is probably my most favorite thing to eat. I have a ton of recipes for chicken. Glad you like my steak recipe. I like it too. Have a good week.

barbara - It is hard cooking for just two. My kids are gone now and I am having a hard time cutting my recipes back. I will freeze leftovers more often now.

Actually, I did put together two recipe books. One is on cooking beans and the other one is for cooking wheat, rice and macaroni. I did them for my church and I can email them to you if you are interested.

At 10:45 AM, Blogger Mountain Mama said...

I can visualize your dad at the cookstove. What a great memory for you. In our house, mom did the cooking. The only time I remember seeing dad at the cookstove was to built the fires, which mom also did.
Stretching meat is not only a frugal way to cook it is also much healthier.There are way too many unhealthy additives.
We all eat too much meat these days. Our diet should contain more veggies and grains.
I used to make chicken & homemade noodles for my family. It has alwasy been a favorite, in fact my girls are coming to help me with some yard work and have requested that I make some for them.
Another favorite is meatloaf or meat balls made with oatmeal to stretch the ground meat.

At 7:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

just wanted to say--Book of Mormon is not the inspired Word of God.

At 11:37 PM, Blogger angel, jr. said...

I need to find a way to stretch my time.
I can't find the time to cook. So I rely on frozen meals: Budget Gourmet, Stouffers-if it's on sale, Michellinas, and pot pies.

Your recipes sound so yummy. I can't wait to get my hands in the kitchen and try them.

At 12:21 AM, Blogger Lucy Stern said...

mountain mama - Dad did love to cook. The Thanksgiving before the died, he was on oxygen 24 hours a day. He came over to help me cook Thanksgiving dinner just like he had done for years. I wish I had a picture of him sitting on a stool at the kitchen counter, cutting onions and celery for the stuffing. He supervised me as I cooked most of the meal that year. He really did love to cook.

anonymous - Matter of opinion.

Angel,jr. - Cooking is an aquired trait and it takes a bit of patience. Aren't you glad someone discovered TV dinners? Hope you enjoy trying it out.

At 8:03 AM, Blogger Leslie said...

Thanks! This has really helped me out!

At 9:19 PM, Blogger Tigersue said...

Just love your spammer up above! Don't you wish they would at least claim their name if they are going to bash our faith!

Anyway on to topic. Something I learned from America's test kitchen last year is to brown your chicken peices before boiling it for your stock. It really increases the flavor 10 fold! I haven't been disappointed yet since I started to do that. YUMMY.

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