Wednesday, 31 October 2012

One Chicken many ways: the definitive round up

As I've mentioned previously, I was sent a Farmers Choice meat box recently, and I wanted to work with it in the way I really cook and not succumb to any temptation to try flashy new recipes, but focus on making thrifty, well cooked and loved food. 

One of the things that I mentioned in my original post was that the £72 cost of the meat box would probably have put me off purchasing, however - when I sat down and worked it out, this worked out at approximately £7 per pack of meat, which I had to admit was cheap, especially for good quality, free range meat. I typically spend £10 on a free range chicken, and only do so, probably once a month. So, the meat box is looking so far so good in terms of value for money. 

I decided to approach the value for money idea with the chicken. I love roast chicken - I remember in one of Jamie Oliver's books he mentioned that he cooks it weekly for his family and I really understand why, it's tasty, comforting, good food. Regular readers will know, and can explore the One chicken many ways posts I do - working out how to make a free range bird worth the investment. 

So, we started on Sunday with roast chicken - cooked simply with lemon and garlic, sat on thick slices of red onion. Served with roast potatoes, stuffing, cauliflower, broccoli, and carrots. Gravy made from the meat juices, cooked down red onion and a splash of white wine. We each had a generous portion of this on Sunday. 

On Monday we each had leftovers with baked potatoes and veg. 

On Tuesday, I stripped the chicken, made risotto with about half the meat, some mushrooms, onion and arborio rice (using chicken stock from a previous roast). This did 4 generous portions, so we had it on Tuesday and Wednesday.

On Tuesday I also made stock from the chicken carcass, a carrot, onion, celery, peppercorns and a little salt, 4 litres of water and boiled it up for 2 hours, skimming any scum from the surface. This made 3 pints of stock which I let jellify, and then...

On Thursday I made soup, I softened a finely sliced leek, carrot, some mushrooms, and thyme. To this I added a cup of barley, the shredded chicken and the stock, I let this cook over a gentle heat for about an hour to soften the barley. Then I simply seasoned and served. This made about 6 portions, 4 of which I froze and two we ate for supper. 

We're eating the 4 previously frozen portions at the moment, it's tasty, warming and filling. 

Most excitingly (yes, I know this makes me a nerd) our chicken provided the basis for 8 meals (14 portions). Aside from the roast, they weren't exclusively chicken, and we used lots of veg, rice and pulses as additions - but that works out at less than £1 per meal. Which is clearly good value. Obviously if you were cooking for a family and not just a couple this would be cut down, but I reckon 4 adult portions would easily work for 2 adults and 3 hungry children. I base that on portion sizes on Brownie and Guide holidays - but obviously each child is different. 

Find all the suggestions, recipes and whatnot for all my One chicken many ways posts here

I'm already considering getting another meat box when we've finished this one - and am wondering about Farmers Choice Christmas produce, specifically the turkeys have caught my eye already! 

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