Congratulations. You’ve just cooked a chicken. You may be carving it up, prematurely because you are eager to get to the table. What’s the next thing you do?
Clean that roasting pan while it is hot and before things begin to “clunk” on the bottom and sides?
No. Leave the pan. Using that pan, which is a treasure trove of flavors, is your first step. Your chicken should rest before you can carve it up anyway. So, put the roasting pan on your stove top. Stir the juice there with a wooden spoon. Break up the solid bits that are “flavor piles” lying there. Now, add something. Peas, beans, corn, onions or a combination of some or all. How much to add? It depends on your chicken but easily two or three cups of veggies is fine. You may want to add a little butter for flavor and additional liquid. Sprinkle the top with lemon juice. Some salt, some pepper. Stir over medium heat for 3-7 minutes until thoroughly cooked. If you wish, add some white wine or even sparkling. Keep in the pan on low heat to remain warm as you finally do carve up that chicken. Then serve as your side dish, adjusting the seasonings to your taste.
You’ve just made a one pot meal in two stages.
Now for step two. After dinner, return to that carcass. Strip it of the remaining meat. For a normal size chicken that has been carved up before to serve 2-3 people, the carcass will still have nearly a cup of scraps on it. After all, when you are carving and want to begin eating, you really have not focused on stripping off all the meat. Now you can. Except, except, you don’t want to get every last scrap of meat off. Get rid of the skin, but leave the ultimate final bits of meat on the bone. Then crush the carcass into pieces, and put the mess into a plastic bag. Put the bag in the refrigerator or refrigerator.
You’ve just made the protein component for a terrific stock. The next day, the next week, plunge those bones with vegetable scraps into cold water and heat to a simmer. Let it simmer for hours. Indulge in the fragrant scents. The resulting broth, once you have removed the chicken pieces and any veggie chunks, is perfect by itself for a simple meal. Or add noodles. Or make risotto.
The Chicken Salad
And now for step three. When you did strip off the carcass, you got some meat, perhaps up to a full cup. Place the meat into a metal bowl. Add mayonnaise, in the ratio 3 parts meat to one part mayo. [Or, if your wife is not going to eat it, make the ratio 2 to 1]. Add some lemon juice to taste, plus salt and pepper. I like to add about a quarter cup of chopped candied jalapenos for heat and sweetness. Or you can add pickle. When you were making that roast chicken and perhaps a salad, there may have been some onion pieces or herbs that were chopped up. You have to clean your kitchen up anyway. Don’t treat those goodies as trash. They are finishing components.
Mix it all up and refrigerate.
You’ve just made some wonderful chicken salad. Not the manufactured goop you find in your store. But, real home-made chicken salad. It’s ready to be scooped onto lettuce, put in a sandwich or used top off your favorite crackers.
You roasted a chicken, but then you accomplished a great deal more.
Photo credits: Canon T21 with 18-55 mm Macro lens, first shot at F/4.0, 1/60th second, ISO 400 and the second at F/5.0, 1/50th second, ISO 3200.
This post will look a bit different than the typical one. And the format surely is. And some spellings. I’ll explain why later. What you do get here is a complete meal:
- Chicken Pudding
- Scallop Tomatas
- Peach Cream
[No, that spelling is correct. Just be patient, please.]
Here we go.
Beat ten eggs very light, add to them a quart of rich milk, with a quarter of a pound of butter melted and some pepper and salt, stir in as much flour, as will make a thin good batter; take four young chickens, and after cleaning them nicely, cut off the legs, wings, &c. put them all in a sauce pan, with some salt and water and a bundle of thyme and parsley, boil them ‘till nearly done, then take the chicken from the water and put it in a the batter, pour it in a deep dish and bake it; send nice white gravy in a boat
Peel off the skin from large full, rip tomatas — put a layer in the bottom of a deep dish, cover it well with bread grated fine; sprinkle on pepper and salt, and some bit of butter over them — put another layer of each, ‘tlll the dish is full — let the top be covered with crumbs and butter — bake it a nice brown.
Get fine soft peaches perfectly ripe, peel them, take out the stones, and put them in a China bowl; sprinkle some sugar on and chop them very small with a silver spoon; if the peaches be sufficiently ripe, they will become a smooth pulp; add as much cream or rich milk as you have peaches; put more sugar and freeze it.
These are real recipes. From Virginia. From 1828. Hence the spelling and the style. And, did you note this, the absence of quantities. A quart of milk, rich milk, yes. But otherwise, you are just adding salt, pepper, bread crumbs and butter. Oh, you need to use that silver spoon, too. You know, I had a grandmother who did exactly that, though I never knew why. Somewhere, there is a chemist who knows.
Andrews McMeel Publishing is collaborating with the American Antiquarian Society to preserve the foundations of American culinary history. The Antiquarian Society has 1,100 cookbooks in its preservation shelves. Andrews McMeel has a project to publish 100 of these books, some in paper and some as e-books. The recipes above do come from the 1828 edition of The Virginia Housewife by Mrs. Mary Randolph. The book portrays a culinary world that is very, very different from the one we have now. This is all way before Whole Foods.
No, Suzen and I have not prepared any of these recipes, but we are going to attempt them. And others. We won’t do the calf’s feet fricassee, but there are plenty of things to try.
If you are a foodie, if you think things haven’t changed all that much over time, well, you need to get this charming book. It was not just a different time in 1828. It was a different world. The Virginia Housewife is a time machine, showing you how much has changed and offering some gems that just still may please you, your family, and your friends.