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.
There are people who do not believe in evolution or genetics. I think they are wrong.
This recipe all started many years ago when I met Maria Guarnaschelli. CBTB was selected for testing The Joy of Cooking and Maria was the editor. At the time Maria told us of her daughter, Alex, who was into food. Ok, so a young girl is intrigue by the industry her Mom is a star in. Little did I know that Alex would herself become a culinary superstar.
While traveling to Austin to visit my family, I was watching the Food Network and saw Alex’s new show, Alex’s Day Off. She put together a wonderful meal to share with a good friend. One recipe totally greabbed my attention: a very, very cold iceberg lettuce with a strong Dijon Vinaigrette. Take a look — but don’t over freeze the lettuce like I did the first time. Over freezing breaks down the cell walls and destroys the crunch you want.
Frozen Iceberg Salad with Champagne Vinegar
Yield: 2 big salads for 2 or smaller salads for 4
- 1 large head iceberg lettuce, outer layer removed and both ends trimmed
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons champagne vinegar
- Kosher salt
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 small bunch fresh tarragon, washed, dried, leaves chopped
Put the head of lettuce on a flat surface and cut in half at the equator. Transfer the lettuce to a small tray and put it in the freezer.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the Dijon mustard, vinegar, and pinch of salt. Slowly whisk in the olive oil and then add the tarragon. Taste for seasoning and set aside.
Allow the lettuce to remain in the freezer until just before serving. They can remain in there for 4 to 6 hours, if necessary.
Suzen says: HOWEVER, by experimenting we have found that 6 hours is too much time in the freezer [too hard to navigate with a fork] and 90 minutes is just a tad light [not quite Arctic cold]. I think 2 hours will produce just the right combination of texture and cold.
When ready to serve, transfer to a platter and drizzle each half with the dressing. Serve immediately.