Monday, December 1, 2014

Stretching One Chicken

Here is a common scene on this farm: a loaded crock pot with a bird and some roots in it. Nothing fancy, right? Well what if I told you this single free-range chicken has lasted ten meals! It's true, and I thought I'd share the Cold Antler method of making a simple set of scratch ingredients into many meals for many folks.

Some folks don't know that a whole chicken can go into a slow cooker, but is sure can. Take a defrosted bird from your own farm or a friendly farm near you and when it is covered in olive oil, spices, herbs - place it in a slow cooker. I cook on high for an hour with just the bird, and then add 2 cups of water, a pat of butter, and veggies of the hardy winter sort. This pot has carrots, onions, parsnips and potatoes. After the veg is in, I turn it to low and let it cook until the bird literally falls apart. After that I pull out the chicken and remove the bones and leave the meat in the pot! Now you have a hearty chicken soup. Want it to be stew? Make a simple roux on the stove and add in that combination to turn it into a really wonderful, thick, dish!

Now, just ladling out soup or stew doesn't last very long. So to stretch it for company on Game Night or with a larger crowd I also have a large pan of rice or egg noodles. That base creates a filler and you ladle just one scoop of sauce, meat, and veggies over that and you have create a truly filling sit down!

After this the bones and remaining carcass are boiled for chicken stock. It is yellow and smells better than anything in a metal can, and can easily be frozen in mason jars or pressure canned, if you're nasty. Add more noodles and veggies to that broth, throw in a few flakes of chicken meat cooked off and you just created another meal for several people. After boiling; the bones go to the pigs, who adore them and their crunchy goodness!

After the company, I turn the leftover stew into pie filling. I make a simple loaf of white bread (just honey, warm water, yeast, salt and flour) and I don't even let the dough rise. I just take the dough and use it to turn it into two "pie crusts" in a deep dish pan. It's not a flaky crust at all but more like a Cornish Pasty. It's a loaf of bread baked around the pie filling and it is baked at 375 until browned and beautiful. One slice is a whole meal,  and this pie could feed four people without side dishes and have them smiling through the groans of a belly tight as a drum.

I know this sounds like a lot of work, but it really isn't and at this point in my cooking/farm life it is just second nature. Flour, olive oil, yeast, root veg and birds are always around. But you don't need to be a homesteader to make a bird like this stretch. You just need to defrost one Thursday in the fridge, set it in the crockpot with all the veg and water before work on Friday morning, and come home and serve it with just the work of making a pot of rice. The carcass can boil after the dishes are done and you and your family are enjoying a movie or watching TV, and the next day you can take the veggies and meat and turn it into a simple meat pie like this!

How do you stretch your meat birds? Any suggestions?! I'm open to them!


Blogger Bex said...

I always wind up with breast meat left and have found that turning that into chicken tacos helps get it eaten.

December 1, 2014 at 2:07 PM  
Blogger Holly said...

Definitely into stretching meals. I like to make dumplings and add them to the chicken stew. The next night I'll make biscuits. Easily my teenager would eat 6 large biscuits with homemade jam on soup/stew night. I made a turkey and potato soup with leftover thighs. Delicious! Kudos on stretching those meals:)

December 1, 2014 at 2:26 PM  
Blogger Su Ba said...

Wow, you're pretty good at stretching a chicken! Since hubby and I are cutting out wheat, rice, and potatoes it makes it more of a challenge to stretch a chicken, but we routinely get 7 meals based on one bird. Two meals with sliced chicken, 2 salads with chicken chunks, 1 chicken stew, 1 chicken soup, and 1 soup based on chicken broth. But I take it one step further. I also use the head, neck, innards except for the digestive tract (gizzard is the exception because stewed chicken gizzards make a fine meal), and feet to make a broth. Stewed gizzards and hearts make a good meal. Chicken livers are great fried or made into a spread. In my poor days we ate cooked chicken necks that we either covered in BBQ sauce, honey/mustard sauce, or sprinkled with herbs while cooking. Nowadays the necks either go to the cats or into the broth pot. Broth pot leftovers go to the cats, dogs, pigs, or chickens. Both chickens and rabbits can be stretched into multiple meals. Both are great small homestead animals in my book. But then, so are sheep and pigs. Lots of meals out of one of those and small enough to handle at home.

December 1, 2014 at 2:43 PM  
Blogger Kelsie said...

You pretty much nailed how I do birds in this house--nothing wasted. The only thing missing from your tutorial is mention of the giblets. Do you use the giblets? I either add them in with the carcass when I'm making stock or use them for giblet gravy, which can then be poured over a multitude of things (or turned into a base for a creamy chicken or duck or turkey stew). ALSO, chicken feet are INCREDIBLE in broth--they make it super nutritious and super rich and gelatinous. Good stuff!

December 1, 2014 at 3:09 PM  
Blogger Erica said...

Great post! Thanks for the menu suggestion. I'm heading out now to grocery shop and will add a whole chicken and parsnips to my list. I'm out of my homegrown chicken as a fox finished off the last of my birds. And I'm glad to finally know a use for parsnips! I see them in the produce section and have eyed them curiously in the past but until now didn't know what to do with them (by the time I'd get home I'd forget to look up recipe ideas for parsnips) but now I know!

December 1, 2014 at 4:39 PM  
Blogger Peacemom said...

We're fans of chicken and dumplings here! I also do the quesadillas with beans to stretch the chicken further. I find if you add beans or rice to it, you can stretch just about anything. I save a bunch of carcasses in the freezer and then make a huge batch of broth to can once I have enough. Then this I use for making rice, soups, stews, or anything that may need liquid and flavor. The pot pie you made looks delicous! ~Vonnie

December 1, 2014 at 5:23 PM  
Blogger Daisy Farm said...

Check out Martha Stewart's new pony.

December 1, 2014 at 9:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One of the very best things ever is the South African Afrikaans tradition of fynvleis (say Fain-flay-ess) or "fine meat". After butchering an animal, the large bones with bits of meat attached, the spine, neck, pelvis etc are put in a large pot with a bit of water. Some add spices and herbs, but we prefer it plain. The bones are boiled for a few hours until all the meat falls off. The bones are removed and the broth passed through a sieve or muslin separating the stock (which is frozen) and the fynvleis. The meat is then used for hearty meat pies.

We just did this last weekend with a pig. I'm intrigued by your dough-pasty, could you share more?

December 2, 2014 at 2:51 AM  
Blogger Coco said...

White chili is a seasonally appropriate dish. White beans, green chilis, onion, carrot, garlic, chicken stock and leftover meat, cilantro and spices to taste, served with a dollop of yogurt or sour cream and tortillas. Yum.

December 2, 2014 at 3:12 AM  
Blogger The Kelly's Adventures in KY said...

BRILLIANT Jenna!!! Wonderful, thank you for sharing your tips!

December 2, 2014 at 9:22 AM  
Blogger EZ said...

Maybe I'll get myself a slow cooker for Christmas...

December 2, 2014 at 11:50 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

"I just take the dough and use it to turn it into two "pie crusts" in a deep dish pan. It's not a flaky crust at all but more like a Cornish Pasty. It's a loaf of bread baked around the pie filling and it is baked at 375 until browned and beautiful." - BRILLIANT. I will use this idea for sure. I love cooking a whole chicken for exactly the same reasons- the versatility and how far it stretches. And the usually recommended kale under it while roasting - the best.

December 2, 2014 at 12:44 PM  
Blogger jennybeast said...

This is great! I am a novice though, so could you post a more detailed explanation of the crust? I've tried one of your other bread recipes and was totally excited that it worked. I'd love to try this one. Thanks!

December 2, 2014 at 8:55 PM  
Blogger Aimee said...

How do you store your root veggies? Do you have a root cellar? I have a finished basement so was just wondering if you had any tips.

December 3, 2014 at 12:32 PM  
Blogger Aimee said...

Oh! Another question that may be appropriate here. I started keeping chickens (after reading your first book) and they are just starting to produce. Any tips on using all the eggs? I'm thinking quiche but would love some recipe suggestions!

December 3, 2014 at 12:35 PM  
Blogger ebwhite said...

Your post reminded me of Robert Capon's Book,"The Supper of the Lamb" (1968). In this he gives recipes for four meals for eight people each from one leg of lamb. Loved the book decades ago and am rereading it now. I do want to try your idea for the pie.

December 3, 2014 at 8:12 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Im similar, the first night being crock-pot chicken served like it was roasted, then stew and soup and i use some broth to make the quinoa, mix in a little chicken meat and some veggies i chop and broil. I had one chicken last 10 meals and i still have 2cups of broth frozen :)

December 7, 2014 at 1:49 PM  
Blogger Lisa Cheney said...

My routine is to roast a chicken on one day and serve it with whatever - rice, potatoes, roasted veggies. We chunk it to serve on salad or in sandwiches for lunches and dinner. Boil the bones for broth and make a soup with what is left and it gets through a few days, even as just a lunch or side dish. We are far from homesteaders, we work traditional jobs and crazy hours and live in an urban third floor walk-up condo. We do not grow or raise a thing, but trying to be a little more connected to our food source by using whole ingredients and learning to feed ourselves. Today, I baked muffins from scratch as an alternative to buying corn syrup laden muffins at the coffee shop. I've been baking bread with a bread machine and it is a lot more satisfying then store brought bread. Obviously not telling you anything you do not know or experience, but it feels good, and right, and sustainable, and satisfying to play a role, even minor, in how we nourish ourselves.

December 7, 2014 at 11:41 PM  
Blogger CheshyrCat said...

I roast the chicken, sometimes stuffed with fruit and nuts, sometimes dressed all around with root vegetables or brussel sprouts, and we have that with hearth bread.
The next day, I use some of it to make fried rice, which, with the chicken and plenty of bright vegetables is a meal by itself, and this usually lasts another two days.
Then the rest of the chicken goes for grasshopper stew, which is what we call soup that is made with literally all of the leftovers in the fridge at the time. If it's a skimpy leftover week, I'll throw in some shredded squash and tomatoes that I've got in the freezer from the summer garden. Served with cornbread, usually baked with green onions and sweet peppers folded in. My favorite part of the chicken routine. Soup lasts two days as well.
Last is chicken pot pie, made with the last of the stew and topped with a parmesan cheese cobbler batter, thick with parsley and butter. I always want this to last two days, too, but it is always eaten almost entirely the first night. It's super comfort food. But that's a week of dinner out of a chicken, and I always feel like I can't beat that with a stick.
We're a family of three, and I know my chicken wouldn't last that long with a family any larger, or if the third wasn't a toddler. I'm going to need bigger chickens some day. ;)

December 8, 2014 at 5:07 PM  
Blogger Ginny said...

I run my chicken stock for almost 24 hours and love it that way. The other trick is that you can use the bones twice for stock. Just strain off the liquid and then set it all up a second time with more veggies and let it go again. Gets twice as much stock out of one bird.

December 10, 2014 at 7:50 PM  
Blogger Bauble said...

but vegans make whole meals out of "flour, olive oil, yeast, root veg" and NO chicken. so doing a little math, the environmental impact would be less.

December 29, 2014 at 9:58 AM  

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