Friday, September 13, 2013

I'm sorry for the delay...

Hey y'all! I am sorry for the delay. I could not, for the life of me, figure out what was going on with my account, something funky was happening and I kept getting kicked off the blog while I was trying to write my next post. I hope that never happens again, it's beyond annoying. are you? Have you been happily going to market like I have? I have been hoarding peaches and swearing to myself I will freeze them to eat later when things are dreary but then I just eat them. That's how things go at this beautiful point in the season- you can still get corn but you can also buy the first winter squash. I take the easy route by not choosing a side and buying everything.

Um, I like orange. Also did you notice I roasted the bird upside down? We're learning together, people
Speaking of buying everything today's post is about s-t-r-e-t-c-h-i-n-g a chicken through 3 meals. My husband is vegetarian in the streets and carnivore in the...times that he knows the meat is humanely and locally raised. Get your mind out of the gutter. I bought a chicken at Glade Road Growing at the Blacksburg Farmers Market last week and followed the directions they had posted on their Facebook page from blogger Shannon Hayes. In her post she talks about how they sell their pasture raised chickens for $4.95 a pound, or $25-$30 per bird. She gives a lot of great reasons about why this is a steal when compared to the price of beef or when taking into account the cost of getting a chicken to market. I recommend you read it and mull it over. I certainly did! I had passed on chicken from the market because of the price several times until I read this post about how to make 3 meals from one bird. I decided to take it as a challenge and report back to you. I for one learned a lot and I think you may too.

The first meal Shannon makes is a roast chicken. I have only ever made one other whole roast chicken in my life so I was a bit nervous. Who wants to mess up a $20 bird? Oh yeah, I forgot to tell you that. I started my experiment with a nearly 5 pound bird from Glade Road Growers. I had bought it and kept it frozen. I then moved it to the fridge at 7:00AM on the day I planned to use it, but it hadn't defrosted yet by 5:00PM. So there's one mistake you can learn from! Give your bird 24 hours to defrost in the fridge. You do know to defrost meat in a fridge right? I only know that because I now work with food scientists. If you ever need a good scare talk to a food scientist. Just saying. Also, my bird still had it's neck. It freaked me out. I had to twist it off! I just gritted my teeth and did it. I put it aside for step 2, don't get rid of it!

To roast my bird I looked over a few recipes and chose bits of each to use. I looked at this one from The Pioneer Woman, one of my favorite blogs, and this one from Art of Manliness because I wanted to roast my bird in my iron skillet. I salt-and-peppered the bird and brought it to room temperature, along with one stick of butter. I then chopped up some fresh rosemary (3 big sprigs) and sage and zested one lemon (about 2 tablespoons of zest). I mixed that together with about 3 tablespoons of room temp butter. I then made the mistake of first squeezing lemon juice over the bird. Don't do that. It makes the next step harder! Take the butter and basically ice the bird with it. I also put a bit under the skin too. In the skillet I had a layer of one onion (cut into large pieces), carrots, potato, and delicata squash (may favorite because you can eat the skin so easily). I had put salt and pepper on these and dotted around some of the butter mixture too. I put the lemon I had zested, cut in half, in the cavity along with about 6 cloves of garlic I had crushed a bit.  I popped the bird on top and put it in the oven as directed in the Art of Manliness post. It came out really nicely! The one thing I would change is...I would roast the veggies separately, or use less butter. They were kinda in a butter soup when I pulled them out, not that that wasn't delicious. You can make that into a lovely gravy if you roast the veggies separately though.

After that dinner I followed Shannon's directions to pull all of the meat off the leftovers that very night. I put the meat aside for later and put the bones, neck, and veggie scraps (potato peelings, carrot peelings, egg shells from breakfast, delicata seeds, onion skins, etc) in a big pot with a few tablespoons of vinegar. I was told this helps to get some of the minerals out of the bones and into the broth. I let that simmer for hours and put it in the fridge overnight. If you are smarter than me you do it in a crock pot for at least 12 hours.

The next day I strained the broth through a fine mesh sieve (thank you, wedding gifts! Never thought I would use it but there it is) and got about 7-8 cups of broth. I put 3 aside for the next meal and made soup. Soup is so easy, yet I used to be intimidated by it. Now we make it once a week. First I put 1 cup of barley on to cook in the background. Then I cut up one onion, carrots, one potato, the rest of the delicata squash, some green beans and some celery. I cooked all of this in some olive oil in my big pot for about 10 minutes, along with sage, rosemary and a bay leaf. When the barley was done I threw that in and put the broth in (I added some leftover veggie broth to make it cover everything) along with salt and pepper. I cut 2 cups of chicken up pretty small and put that in too. I let this simmer till it all came together and served it with homemade baking soda biscuits. Delish! And we got dinner for 2 nights out of it.

The final meal...well I got lazy with part of it but it still came out amazing. I made chicken pot pie for the first time ever! I basically used this Martha recipe but with a lot more veggies and I really meant to make the pie crust but I just got lazy so I bought one. OK, I bought one. Who cares? Get over it. Long story short the pie was delicious AND because i used so many veggies I even have enough filling left over in my freezer (along with another pie crust!) to make another one one night in the yummy yummy future. So there you go, not 3 meals, but really 5 if you count that we ate the soup 2 nights in a row and I have left over filling. See people I have figured out the 1950's secret- stretch your meat by combining with with lots of vegetables. Have 2 veggies as sides! It's what you're supposed to do anyway. It's much healthier for you, and it's easier on your wallet. We didn't used to eat all these meat-centric meals, and you can choose the smarter way!

Take the expensive-as-heck-but-oh-so-worth-it bird challenge for yourself! Let me know what you think about it in the comments.