Friday, April 10, 2009

How far can a chicken go?

I've been asked how I can stretch my grocery dollar so far so, I thought we'd follow this chicken and see just how far it goes.This is one of my local chickens.I just took it out of the freezer to thaw since I need a good chicken broth for my soup.Today I will be making escarole soup,also known as Italian Wedding soup.As you can see locally grown chickens are very large.It's sitting on a standard size stove and practically takes up all the space.This chicken was raised to about 9mo.before slaughter.Just amazing how big they are. The meat is very tender and there is plenty of it. First step ,after thawing was to pop this chicken in a large pot with s&p.bay leaf, white wine,(1/2 cup) celery,carrots and onions.I bring this to a boil and then let it simmer for about 45min. Then I shut the heat and let it sit in the broth covered for at least another hour.

While this is happening I prepare the teeny tiny meatballs for the soup.I mix egg,milk,breadcrumbs,basil s&p,garlic Parmesan cheese and finely minced onion with ground beef. This is sauteed in olive oil and then set aside to drain while the soup is completed. I suppose you can make the meatballs any size you like as long as they fit on your soup spoon.That's a teaspoon in with the meatballs and I usually get about 60 meatballs out of a lb of ground beef. Also remember that they will get a little larger after sitting in the hot broth.

A little more oil in the soup pot and I'm ready to saute my onions .I use about 2-3 depending on the size. Then we add a minced garlic and toss in a head of chopped escarole which I stir in till wilted.

By this time the chicken has been completely cleaned to the bone and the meat has been set aside for later use. I strain the broth and pour about 6 cups into my onion/escarole mix.I let this simmer with the rind of a chunk of Parmesan.I'm fortunate to have access to this.If it's not available to you just add grated cheese before serving. It will be fine. Oh yes don't forget to put the meatballs in.I leave this on the lowest heat possible for another 20-30mins.

Then I add 1/2 cup of orzo and cook till done. If the soup appears too thick for your liking don't hesitate to add more broth. Also if you haven't any orzo on hand and no one will be checking up on you to see that you followed this recipe to a T,there is no reason that you cannot break-up any kind of pasta into bite size pieces.

So that's the story on the beginning of this chickens odyssey.Remember we haven't touched the meat yet so we have a ways to go. This soup should yield about 8-10 servings.Add a crusty bread and you have a good lunch for several days. Next stop my favorite chicken salad. I can hardly wait.............. said the hobbit


Geek+Nerd said...

Yum! You're giving away the chicken salad recipe!? Your blog readers are LUCKY, they don't know what they're in for!!!

Connie said...

This is going to be fun!

Margaret said...

I usualy cut the back out and make broth and roast the rest. Left overs are often eaten cold, I love cold roast chicken or chunked into a green salad. Good old chicken, so versatile and helps strech the budget.