The flexibility of a chicken

Roast chickenSometimes you’re walking past the last day shelf in Tesco and a chicken for 2.50 just leaps out at you, you just can’t avoid it!

You think “I can get at least four meals out of it for the two of us!” And you do! As an example meal plan:

  1. A proper Sunday roast. Beautiful crispy roast potatoes, some fresh seasonal vegetables or two. I still haven’t cracked the secret to lovely crunchy potatoes here, but given a variety like King Edwards, they will still be tasty. It’s summer so we just picked up some broad beans from the farmer’s market. Don’t forget the gravy! I should pontificate at length on gravy at another point.Leftover chicken
  2. Then do something with the leftovers. In this case a chicken pie but I was too lazy to make the lid ? This one had some frozen peas, and chopped red pepper in. And obviously, that thing that makes everything better, sweetcorn. You can put in pretty much anything you like. Chop up a leek or throw in left over vegetables. Swede on the side is a nice touch, and fry up left over roast potatoes. Obviously, with the bones, you’ll get between a pint and a litre of stock. You can either just boil the bones or throw in some garlic, chopped onion, carrots, celery, herbs and so on.
  3. Then, with that stock, make soup! Possibly with some leftover gravy added for extra flavour. This soup has noodles, an egg mixed in, some veggies and a soft boiled egg. We get through the eggs in this house! Cantonese chicken and sweetcorn has been perpetrated in this house and that’s good too,
  4. Last but not least, you’ll probably have a chicken breast left over. That’s easy to dispose of: a chicken sandwich. Me, I like nice fresh bread and mango chutney. That’s the right combination of solid and savoury. The other option is to load it up with lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber and mayonnaise. Either way.On the bread note, we mostly make our own. Either from the components or supermarket mix, and throw it in the bread maker. Good fresh bread for half the price.

And that’s how you get four meals out of some discounted chicken!

Some good links out there:

There’s plenty you can do with a chicken: lemons, put vegetables in the roasting tin. Me, I put smoked paprika and garlic salt on the skin before rubbing with olive oil. The skin is the best bit. Or just buy the thighs and roast them!

Pi day

beef and ale pieYesterday we celebrated the perverse American pi day with pie. Perverse because Americans do their dates wrong. The real pi day is obviously 31/4/15 9:26:53 etc. Also, in celebration of Weebl and Bob. Never mind. I made a beef and ale pie. Easy enough. For two with leftovers:

  • Fry one medium or two small onions with a clove or two of garlic in olive oil until softening.
  • Dry a pound of diced beef of some sort then dust with flour, add to the onions and fry until browned. (There’s argument as to whether there’s any point to browning beef but I’l let that slide).
  • Add a chopped carrot, half a dozen small mushrooms and maybe some shallots.
  • Add seasonings to taste: salt (which I always forget!), pepper, maybe some paprika, Worcestershire sauce and herbs (I have Greek mountain oregano!). It was missing something until I added about a dessertspoon of soy sauce.
  • Add an ale such as Guinness or a nice bitter until the beef is covered.
  • Simmer VERY gently on the stove for a couple of hours, or put in a casserole in a 170C oven for the same time.
  • When that’s done, put into a pie dish, put 100g grated cheddar on top, throw on an egged covering of pastry and bake at 190C for 40 minutes or so until the pastry is browned.
  • Eat!

From Asparagus to Jersey Royals! Spring food in England.

English asparagusAutumn is like lady bountiful, great food every where. But for me, spring is the one, when we’re emerging from an impossibly long winter, blinking into nice light evenings, sitting outside the pub or cafe, maybe, and enjoying the coming of the summer. Oh, and the seeds for autumnal bounty are sprouting. For me, the joy of spring was reflected partly in the bounty from this week’s farmers market and partly from the greengrocer:

  • English asparagus. Early in the season, costing maybe 3.50 from the farmers market, later on, 1 from the supermarket for a bunch
  • Jersey Royal potatoes. Those creamy, earthy nuggets slathered in butter
  • Rhubarb. Preferably the slim, forced type, cook to a compote and then put in a crumble

Then, the usual farmer’s market bounty:

  • A chicken!
  • Cavolo Nero, kale, purple sprouting broccoli
  • Carrots
  • 3-seed brown bread like a brick
  • Eggs. Always better than anything you can get from a supermarket
  • Sausages and bacon, the same
  • The butter was disappointing!

So, 2-3 days locavore-ish eating, for not much more than we’d pay in the supermarket. Score!

Do you use a farmer’s market? What do you like to get? Share your thoughts in the comments below!