With going on campus, and even with being home in Durango more consistently & making meals for the Hubbers and I, I've been looking into making easy, affordable meals. I've discovered the best thing for cooking on a busy schedule - precooked meat! But not precooked in the store, precooked at home.
|Malcolm and I on vacation - I don't think there is a better picture that captures the true us!|
Today I wanted to tell you about cooking chicken. I buy a whole chicken, which is usually around or below $5. At home, I stick the whole shebang in the crock pot, sprinkle it with paprika, then let it cook on high (or low) until it's done - which I usually peel away at the chicken with a fork: if the meat peels away easily and I don't see any pink then I call 'er done.
After it's all cooked, then I pick away the meat and stick it in a freezer baggie. After that I stick the chicken in the freezer and take it out when I need it. When I do need chicken for something, I usually stick the bag in the microwave for 1 minute increments until it has thawed enough to loosen enough chicken that I need. Then I stick the rest of the chicken back in the freezer until I need it.
The bones and everything else (I mean EVERYTHING that is not meat) in a bag to save for later. The reason I keep the leftover stuff is so I can make my own chicken stock - and it's not difficult AT ALL!!
(original recipe I found at simplyrecipes.com)
• Chicken "leftovers"
• Bay Leaves (I've done both crushed and full leaves)
You can add or subtract whatever you want to, but the point is to infuse the water with flavor. (You can't subtract the chicken carcass, however. If you take that out, then you don't have chicken stock. :)
What I do is put everything in a pot, then fill it with enough water that it won't bubble over when you start boiling it it won't get all over your stove top. Once you get everything in the pot, set it on high and let it boil for a while (to be honest, I have no clue how long I let it simmer/boil, but for at least a few hours).
Once it's been cooking for at least 3 hours, then strain it out. I usually set a big bowl in the sink, then a colander on top of that. I dump the whole pot through the colander into the bowl, then I strain the liquid a couple times to eliminate any major bothersome chunkies.
|Bowl of broth... in case you were confused.|
Following that, I can it. I've done both water bath and pressure canning, and pressure canning is suppose to be the safer route. Some sites say to freeze, then other don't say anything. So I'm trying with this new batch not freezing (I lost a few jars to the freezer last time). If we die of some sort of food poisoning, you'll know what happened.
Chicken stock has become one of those things I need to keep on hand because it is SO versatile in cooking. My FAVORITE easy recipe that needs chicken stock is....
20-Minute Noodle Bowls (for about 2 people)
(from Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook 15th Edition - click here for a similar online recipe)
• 14 oz chicken (or beef) broth
• 1/4 teriyaki sauce (the best is Veri Veri Teriyaki sauce)
• 1/4 water
• 2 cups frozen mixed vegetables
• 2 3oz packages ramen noodles (any flavor, cause you don't use the flavor packet)
Combine broth, water, and sauce in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil. Then add you veggies and your noodles. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for about 3 minutes. Then serve it up! That easy and they are really tasty too!
I usually add chicken too. If raw, I let it marinate in a bowl with teriyaki sauce and a little apple cider vinegar for about an hour or so before I cook it up in a pan. I like to leave some of the marinade in the pan so it kind of does a boil/fry thing. Then, once the noodles and veggies are done and served up in bowls, I add the chicken on top. If precooked chicken, I douse the chicken in teriyaki sauce for a while, and then stick it in with the rest of the the noodles and veggies for the last minute of cooking (since the chicken is done, but usually not hot from coming out of the freezer - go figure).
With the rest of your already cooked chicken, you can make many a different meal. Our usuals around these here part are chicken enchiladas, homemade chicken and green chili mac n cheese, and this potato/chicken country gravy/ cheese thing (sounds weird, but tastes decent enough - and cheap). But you can replace it for various meals that need cooked chicken - like pot pies, pasta, etc.
Next time, I'll tell you about ham... oh so delicious! Sorry Israelites, you probably won't be able to eat those meals!