Sunday, August 31, 2008

All That Chicken

(If you're bored by boring cooking tales, pass on by.)

Two huge packets of organic chicken came out of the freezer (10 big chicken breast halves). Roasted at 400 with s&P and a little vegetable oil for 35/40. I took them out when thermometer was at 170 not 165, since I really didn't want to think about how long they had been in the freezer, and they were slightly overdone. Then I took a good hour, after they were cooled, to cut them up. I hate Bits (cartilage, fat, skin, veins, sinew), so I ruthlessly pruned every bit away, as well as a few over-cooked hard parts, then shredded as well as cut the remaining meat (didn't want to be flossing for years), ending up with cups and cups worth.

I ended up making 3 dishes out of the chicken. I shoulda gone for 4, for obviating boredom and managing storage better, but this is what I made -

* Chicken salad with tons of celery, a little rice wine vinegar, mayo, mustard, poppy seeds, on thin slices of buttered sourdough toast. Yum.
* Fake-out shredded BBQ chicken. I heated together a huge squoze of Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ sauce, apple cider vinegar, chicken stock, lots of pepper, dry mustard until mixed, then added tons of chicken and heated for a while until they looked like they belonged together. Pulled BBQ chicken kinda!
* The biggest effort? Chicken chili with barley, not one of my more graceful cooking experiences (ate up much of my morning), but turned out fine. I sauteed the spices of a Carroll Shelby's chili seasoning kit in some oil, adding lots of my own chili powder, cumin, oregano, thyme, etc. When I could smell them, I added two 28 oz cans of tomato puree (the kind that's just tomatoes and salt) and about a quart of organic chicken stock. Then I put in all the rest of the chicken. Then I decided it was too watery, but that I didn't want to reduce heavily (I was cooking in a paper-thin aluminum stock pot with an uneven bottom that I set in a Le Crueset pan to regulate the temp) at risk of burning. So I put on some barley in a separate pot with chicken stock and water, only when it was supposed to be done I had way too much water (package directions were whack!). I just put the whole thing--slightly underdone barley + stock - in the chili, and once it was combined, 2 packets of masa harina that come in the chili kit to thicken. Then I spotted some chicken sausages in the back of the freezer and thought - what the heck. So I started cooking them in the Le Creuset pan, after moving chili to the side, but I was getting really sick of minute-by-minute babysitting so the sausages basically burned (I cut off the burned bits and added the remainder - a handful - to the chili). I had thought about doing lentils too, but I just was getting sick of messy pots and worrying about burning and whatever so I let chili cool after spooning some out in bowls for...breakfast! Over whole wheat toast, natch (delish). After 2-3 hours cooling (truly takes forever) it was beautifully thickened and the barley much bigger still. So I have tons the freezer, and a big container in the fridge to use up, as well as some yummy Greek yoghurt to put on top. I think that one could have been a little more graceful, for sure, with a little more decision making.

There's MORE chicken in the freezer, but I can't bear to think about it. I will attack everything else first, including a rolled flank steak of indeterminate age. I really do love turning things into other things. And now I'm off for my first real corn of the summer!

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