Love Your Leftovers
Making a roast chicken on a Sunday is like having Thanksgiving every week. And the most important part about Thanksgiving? Leftovers!
My family is big into having everyone and their great step-aunt over for the holidays. As I’ve said before, the more the merrier. One year for Thanksgiving we had plans with a number of families, each group bringing some sides or a dessert and we supplied the turkey. But come that Thanksgiving Day almost everyone had canceled, and there was our small 4-person family and a 20 lb gobbler. Two weeks later I swore off eating turkey. I may still be recovering from the Tryptophan coma.
For those two weeks we ate turkey sandwiches, turkey noodle soup, turkey and leek quiche, turkey hash, turkey and cheese on crackers, and turkey-cranberry ice cream sauce (ok, I’m kidding about the last one). It’s been a few years now and I will have a slice or two of the T-word on the third Thursday in November, but that Thanksgiving of the Turkey Overload taught me an important lesson: make use of your leftovers, be creative, and enjoy each bite to the last crumb. (And make sure your guests confirm before buying 4 times too much food.) So I am introducing a new Yumventure: Love Your Leftovers.
Love Your Leftovers will include recipes using leftover ingredients from other meals, whether it be meats, veggies, or grains. This not only helps cut down on food waste, but saves time and money when you cook and buy in bulk. Brown rice takes 40 minutes on the stove, wouldn’t you rather do that only once during the week?
My roast chicken on Sunday was a smashing success, and while we ate all of the veggies along with it, I purposefully bought a 4-lb chicken that I knew we wouldn’t finish. Leftover cooked chicken is quick and easy! So here is part of my first installment of Love Your Leftovers: Chicken.
Let’s start with the part of the chicken you wouldn’t normally think about: the carcass (aka all of the bones). Think like the Native Americans, use every part of the animal!
Home Made Chicken Stock
1 roast chicken carcass (with the wing/drumstick bones and the giblets from the inside)
2 large carrots, chopped into 2 pieces each
1 onion, quartered
3 stalks of celery, chopped into 2 pieces each
Salt and pepper
A bunch of fresh or dried herbs, whatever you have on hand
After you have enjoyed your roast chicken, spend a bit of time taking all of the meat off the bones. You feel a bit savage at times, but try to get all the meat you can, even if it is just little pieces (a lot of good recipes call for shredded chicken!). Put this chicken in a container and refrigerate for later. Once you are satisfied with the cleaning, put the chicken in a large pot.
Add the vegetables, herbs, and seasoning. Add enough water to cover everything.
Cover the pot and bring to a boil. Once boiling, turn the heat down to low and simmer, uncovered, for 4 – 6 hours.
Put the pot in the fridge, covered, and let cool overnight.
In the morning, remove the lid. You will see that all of the fat has risen to the top of the liquid and hardened. With a spoon, gently remove this fat and throw it away.
Remove all of the big pieces of bone you can find and discard them. Strain the rest of the liquid into another pot or bowl, removing the rest of the pieces of meat and vegetable. You are left with clear, glowing, amazing broth.
This stock can now be used for anything: as the base to a soup, to add extra flavor to chili or pasta sauce, to cook rice in, or to just sip and enjoy with some crusty French bread. You can use it immediately or freeze in individually-sized bags, ready to be defrosted whenever that pesky cold comes around and you crave some chicken noodle that’s better than Campbells.
So readers, I challenge you: take your leftovers from one night this week and turn them in to something great! Save time, money, and energy but keep your taste buds alive 🙂
What is your favorite leftover?