Monday, December 8, 2008

A peek in the kitchen...what's for dinner?

Chicken can often be a hard thing to prepare. I often try to be creative with cooking chicken without always grilling or pan cooking. So many people only buy the boneless breast of a chicken because the other cuts (or whole chicken) can be a bit intimidating.

I have a few sure-fire ways to make chicken that have always turned out great. We're a white-meat family, so I usually buy bone-in breasts with skin. Why bone-in? Well, a few reasons:

1. It's usually a cheaper cut, costing around 1.98 a pound (compared to $4.49 per pound for boneless) and sometimes even .98 per pound on sale. (Prices are for non-organic chicken)
2. It's much more versatile for several of my recipes
3. I can cook a lot of it at a time and use it for multiple meals

I usually cook bone-in chicken 3 ways, depending on what's on my menu:
1. Boil it - When I boil the chicken, I ALWAYS make chicken stock with it, which is good for soup (stock is the base of the soup) or for casseroles (stock is used to cook rice or pasta)
2. Roast it - I roast it when I either make casseroles or if we eat the breast by itself
3. Grill it - I grill it rarely, but the bone-in adds more moisture, but it takes longer to cook than boneless.

When I roast or boil the chicken (about 4lbs), I debone the chicken, shred it and separate the chicken in half, one half going in one meal and the other in another meal . The shredded chicken is good in soups, casseroles, chicken fajitas/enchilada, chicken salads, bbq chicken sandwiches etc. VERY versatile. Say I have a soup and a casserole on my menu, I boil it. If I have sandwiches and enchiladas, I roast it. Roasting takes less time, but you don't get a stock out of it (and 4 cups of stock can be upwards of $3.00 at the store).

So, here are my recipes for stock and roasting for soups/casseroles. I will add additional recipes on another post:

Chicken Stock
Approx 4 lbs of bone-in chicken (white and/or dark meat)
3 carrot stalks, peeled and quarted
3 celery stalks, peeled and quarted
1 onion, quarted
1/4 c. fresh parsley or 2 tablespoons of dried parsley

1. Put chicken in a dutch oven or stock pot (or a pasta pot big enough) and cover with veggies and parsley
2. Put enough water in the pot to submerse chicken and other ingredients
3. Heat to boil. If you keep the skin on the chicken, you will need to skim off the foam that is produced. Just use a spoon. The skin adds more flavor, though it does make the stock a little more fatty.
4. Reduce heat to medium and cover. Cook for 45 minutes or until juices of the chicken run clear. Remove from heat
5. Let stand for about 5 minutes to cool slightly.
6. Remove chicken. Discard veggies. Strain the stock through cheese cloth or use a very dense strainer.
7. Debone chicken.

Makes about 5 cups of stock.

Roasted Plain Chicken
Approx. 4 lbs of bone-in chicken (skin on)

1. Pre-heat oven to 350.
2. Put foil in the bottom of a baking pan and grease with cooking spray
3. Put chicken on the pan, pop it in the oven and let it roast for about 1.5 hours
4. Let it stand for about 10 minutes to cool
5. Remove skin from chicken and discard.
6. Debone chicken

With either recipe, you can cube the chicken or shred it, depending on what you're making. I actually made the stock last week for my chicken soup. I make one or both of these types of chicken about twice a month...sometimes more!


Courtney said...

I'm so jealous! What an amazing header photo. Who took that?

I tell ya, I can't get a good family picture to save my life. I can barely get just MD. We tried to get up with Jim over the weekend to take some shots of us but it just didn't work out. What's your secret?! Take care...and Merry Christmas!

Melanie said...

Those were actually taken at Ethan's b-day party, so it was professionally done,though I did make the enhancements to the original image. My secret to photo-ing families is a fast shutter and to ask the adults to keep smiling no matter how silly they feel. I usually can get a few nice shots of the fam w/ small children that way. Anyway, thanks for the compliment on the pic...its a fav of mine, too. I can't tell you how awesome it is to have photos professionally done! It's the way to go. Now, if more people would just hire me! :-)