Wednesday, April 21, 2010

About that left over chicken...

Every other week or so we buy a small rotisserie chicken and eat one meal off of it as is, another off of the leftovers, and then we boil it to death with veggies and seasonings to make home-made chicken stock, or chicken soup with noodles or rice.

I went searching for recipes for leftover chicken to help stretch that bird as far as I could. This odd but DELICIOUS one has stuck. It's really easy and made with things we always tend to have around the house. I look forward to "chicken week" because of this yummy dish.

There is always chicken salad or pulled chicken soft tacos, but I prefer all white meat for those. One of these days we'll cook a big enough chicken to have enough white meat left over for that!

Stock in the Crock

We love Minestrone soup around here. It's a cheap, easy, healthy meal that makes a lot of leftovers and helps us consume more veggies in a delicious way. I was concerned, however, about always using canned chicken stock, knowing it was high in sodium and other preservatives. After some searching on-line I was thrilled to discover that making chicken stock "from scratch" is super easy!

Just toss leftover chicken bones or carcass in the crock pot and cover with water. Then add carrots, celery, garlic, onion, or any other vegetable you desire. For even less waste, I save pieces of those vegetables left over from cooking and put them in a freezer bag until time to make chicken stock again. This way, waste is minimized and often I don't even have to cut veggies up for the stock! We also put chicken bones in the freezer until we have enough to make the stock.

In the evening, I turn the crock pot up to high for about 4 hours and then down to low for about 10 more hours. There's no set rule on the times, I've just read that at least 14 hours is best. I turn it off in the morning to let it cool. After it cools down, I put a colander in my largest pot and pour all the contents into it, lift up the colander letting all the liquid drain out and throw out the bones and veggies. All the wonderful nutrients should be cooked out into the broth, which I divvy up into containers for freezing.

To make things even easier, Harris Teeter has small, ready cooked rotisserie chickens on sale every Sunday. We've started buying one every other week or so since Sunday's are a busy day. We'll have some of the chicken with steamed veggies that evening. Then I'll pick off the leftover chicken and put it in the fridge or freezer for a recipe in the next day or so. Finally, of course, we boil the heck out of that little chicken in the crock pot!