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!