Thursday, September 13, 2007

How one chicken can feed two people for a week

A couple of months ago, i read an article in The Age by Brigette Hafner describing a 'pot au poulet'; a one pot chicken meal, which I saved to my files thinking it would be a great winter warmer, and then promptly forgot about it. There is nothing I like more in winter than chucking a few things into a pot and letting it simmer for a couple of hours, warming the house with heavenly smells and allowing all the flavours to meld together. Last weekend, after running myself ragged around town doing errands, I started craving a hearty warming meal, and as the cold winter weather reappeared (as it likes to do of and on again in Melbourne until November), my thoughts turned to this recipe. So of I went to the grocery store on Sunday afternoon in search of a large organic chook. As I had missed all the markets I found myself in a shopping centre and NOT ONE SHOP had an organic chicken. After cutting my losses and buying the best looking chook I could i returned home to start my pot.

This recipe was as simple as it gets. Chuck a chicken, some herbs, leeks, celery, carrots and garlic into a pot with wine, stock, spices and some kipfler potatoes and turnips (though I accidentally bought parsnips instead... ) and simmer for 2 hours.

The uncooked pot

After 2 hours the chook was removed to a serving platter with the potatoes and parsnip and served with grilled sourdough rye bread and creme fraich mixed with horseradish. I also steamed some silverbeet and doused it in lemon.

Notice there is no photo of the finished product? That is becasue it didnt look so good with everything a bit mushy and the chicken falling to pieces. The chicken was nice, but most of the flavour had gone into the stock, and if it wasnt for the creme fraich, the dinner would have been a bit plain. Thank god for creme fraich, it makes everything better.

So, the left over chicken breast was used to make sandwhiches for work the next day ( a whole chicken for 2 people is way too much, even if you do live with a bottomless pitt called nathan). By Tuesday I was starting to feel the ill effects of the weather and had a bad cold coming on. All i wanted was soup, made using the stock from the pot au poulet, and at Brigette's advise, i was planning on making an onion soup, as I had never made one before, and it sounded like something that would be good for a cold.

Of course I was feeling rubbish so Nathan offered to make it for me. It is nice to have boys around sometimes.

After consulting my trusty Cooks Companion and finding Stephanie Alexanders version way too lenthy, I gave Nathan the recipe from Leane Kitchen's cookbook. Recipe follows, with slight modifications...

French onion Soup

650g small brown onions

flour, butter

2 cloves garlic

sprigs of thyme, rosemary, a bay leaf

1 cup white wine

2L stock

baguette (day old)

gruyere cheese

Slice the onion into thin slices and fry in 60g butter at low heat for around 30 minutes until starting to caramelise and smells good, stirring frequently. Add the finely chopped garlic with 2 tablespoons of flour and fryfor 2 minutes at low heat. Add the herbs, stock, wine and salt and pepper to taste and bring to a simmer. Leave for 25 minutes until the onions have resorbed the moisture.

To serve, cut baguette into slices and grill on the both sides, then add shredded gruyere and grill until melted. Put cheesy bread into soup bowls and ladel soup over the top.

This soup was really really good. And I think that was becasue of the stock. Nathan you did a great job though, thankyou! We ate this for 2 nights and I am starting to feel much better. Making stock with a whole chook and lots of vegies seems to be a brilliant way to do things, as the stock was much more flavoured than my usual stock made from chicken drumsticks, and so I just might start doing this more often...

So that was 4 meals for 2 from one chook. Pretty good I think!

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