Category Archives: chicken

Chicken for 77 Cents per Pound…nostalgia and inspiration!

chicken and kimchee lettuce cup

Chicken at Safeway this week is 77 cents per pound – seems like Safeway changes the chicken price to this level from time to time. I remembered that long, long, LONG ago, I bought a whole chicken and froze it. I figured that I should use it…nearly a year later?

chicken price sticker

So I defrosted it overnight, and then brined it. Didn’t follow a recipe for the brine – just threw everything (for just a few hours, with salt, sugar, and apple cider) into a large stockpot, stuck it in the fridge for about 4 hours. I figured the apple cider vinegar would help liven up the taste if the chicken had fallen victim to freezer burn.

Someone had given me many bags of veggies, including a wealth of root veggies: fingerling and purple potatoes, as well as carrots. I decided that they would form a bed for a roast chicken. While the chicken marinated, I soaked the root veggies which were a tad dried out.

potatoes

carrots

bed of root veggies

After quickly rubbing it with some chilic powder I got for $1.00 at the dollar store, I put the 4 lb chicken on a bed of root veggies into the 450 degree oven. About 75 minutes later, it was all quite roasted. The feedback on the chicken? No one knew it was previously frozen!!! I could have roasted a (previously frozen) woolly mammoth if I brined it first!!! Brining is truly magical.

roasted chicken on a bed of root veggies

Roasted chicken was part of one day’s meal (yesterday’s). And what about the second day of roasted chicken? Why not make lettuce cups? That’s right, slather that chicken with kim chee and roll it up in some lettuce. And call it a day. So so easy.

chicken and kim chee lettuce cups

I can see doing something similar with cold, drained, firm tofu. Hm…maybe I’ll have to try that.

Thanks for still reading my blog, despite my inattention! Here’s a totally gratuitous photo of some California goodness.

sunset

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Forty Cent Chicken Soup

French Daisies

Wildflowers

In the summertime, I bought five pounds of chicken quarters at $.77/lb. A total steal.  AndI had bought ginger, garlic, celery, and carrots. I had grand plans to make curry chicken, which I had’t done in ages. But then a heat wave hit. Who has the will to brown five pounds of chicken quarters when it is HOT? I couldn’t do it. But I didn’t want to freeze it either. So…maybe it’s time to make some chicken soup! Using this recipe means you want a LOT of chicken soup. Are you ready for it? And the chicken meat is soooo tender!

Forty-Cent Chicken Soup

  • 5lbs of chicken quarters (@.77/lb = $3.89);
  • majority of a bunch of celery ($1.79 per bunch);
  • 1 large yellow onion about 3/4 lb ($.99/lb = $.75);
  • most of 2 heads of garlic (sold 2 for $1.00);
  • most of a 1/3 lb chunk of ginger ($2.99/lb = $.93);
  • 1/2 lb of baby carrots (1lb for $1.00, on sale);
  • lots of water; and
  • salt to taste.
  • Total cost: $9.36

    Total elapsed time: 90 min.  (including washing the pot, cutting board, etc.)

    Yield: about 6 quarts (24 cup-servings)

    Cost per serving: 39 cents.

    0. Washing/Chopping

    I washed and chopped the veggies first. Then I washed the chicken. I always handle the meat last, in the interest of food safety.

    1. Sweating the veggies

    I started a skillet on medium. Smashed the garlic cloves, in their skins. Then removed the skins, and added them to the skillet. Then added the chopped onion, celery, carrots and ginger. The proportions are really forgiving. I am fickle about carrots so I don’t put a lot of them. In general, any type of root vegetable – rutabaga, beets, parsnips, daikon, etc. – can be part of the soup (if you have any type of root vegetable. There are a lot of root veggies from the brassica family, a.k.a., the cruciferous vegetables, which are extremely good for you.

    2. Bringing everything to a boil

    Once all the veggies were sweated/carmelized, I added the chicken quarters. I didn’t even feel like removing the chicken skin! So I didn’t. Then I just added water to barely cover and brought everything to a boil, leaving the lid off.

    3. Simmer

    After the water came to a boil, I lowered the heat to a simmer, added the lid, and did something else for about 45 min. The mass of ingredients was too large to place into my pressure cooker safely (you are only supposed to fill it to 2/3 capacity) but this would have been a good one for pressure cooking in a larger pot.

    4. Homemade Chicken Soup is Mine

    I let it cool down, and boiled some pasta for a simple soup-meal. Homemade chicken soup makes everything taste better! I eventually refrigerated it, skimming the fat (schmaltz) off of the top to use later.

    5. Schmaltz

    Chicken breasts are not my favorite. I usually eat them last, when there is no dark meat left. I had some chicken breasts leftover from a whole fryer I was using to make chicken curry, and I thought about trying the schmaltz from the chicken soup. Oh, it was SO good. The schmaltz picked up all the wonderfully deep flavors of the soup and gave them to the chicken breasts.

    Someday I might have to try a stock recipe – just using the bones, and no meat.

    P.S. I added to the Tips page the other day: The always-brilliant Frugal Cuisine says to never throw out chicken fat – use it  in lieu of expensive, fancy butters. Also on the Tips page – how to make a vegan stock.

    my first pressure cooker dish: Chicken with Bamboo Shoots – very inexpensive prep

    Well, I broke down and bought a Presto stainless steel pressure cooker. It’s worth every penny. I got it from an evil retailer who shall remain nameless for about $60.00. Holds six quarts. I am in LOVE. Why? It cooks very very quickly. It keeps flavor locked into your ingredients. It tolerates amazing laziness from the cook. Run, don’t walk and get a pressure cooker. Here’s the first dish I prepared with it:

    Chicken with Bamboo Shoots and Apples

    • 4 lbs of chicken (about $7.00);
    • 4 small chopped Gala apples (about $2.00);
    • 2 containers of tofu ($2.00 – from Whole Foods);
    • 1 large chopped yellow onion (about $1.00);
    • 1/4 cup of soy sauce (pennies);
    • 4 tablespoons of sugar (pennies);
    • 1/2 jar of bamboo shoots in chili oil (about 1/2 of $2.19);
    • 1 beef bouillion cube (approx. $0.20); and
    • 3/4 cup of water.

    Well, just throw everything in and toss well. Um, get the thing to start pressuring. Pressure it for about 15 minutes. Remove it from heat, and keep the lid on for about forty minutes. Once the pressure has escaped, open the lid. Enjoy the heavenly texture of the chicken, now imbued with the confident tang of the preserved bamboo shoots. Yes, the meat will fall off the bone. As for the cleaning – hey, no burns on the bottom of the pot. No scraping. Sudsy water and sponging should do it. So easy, and so absolutely delicious. I’m sure the dish could be improved by browning the chicken, but, why not be lazy?

    convenient and delicious roasted chicken stew: under 90 min, under $1.00 per serving!

    In the middle of the week, I got a craving to prepare curry chicken after getting a package of chicken quarters. But, I didn’t feel like dealing with the spatter associated with browning the chicken (yes, I know, you might suggest using a screen to keep that at bay). And how to do it in just a few hours? This is how – broil each side of the chicken quickly in the oven before adding it into the curry sauce – when I say “quickly,” that means broil just enough to sear each side and seal in all the chickeny goodness. While the chicken seared away in the oven, I sauteed 2 extremely large onions with vegetable oil and spices, letting that sweat, then added the chicken and some water. Brought that to a boil, and added sliced cabbage. Yummy!!! Prep and actual cooking time was less than three hours.

    I used three of the chicken quarters for the curry. The remaining two stayed in the oven to roast at 350 or so. Those two became part of a stew. Read on!

    Convenience Chicken Stew

    • 1 can of Swanson’s Reduced Sodium Chicken Broth; (about $3.50)
    • 3 cans of no-salt kidney beans; (less than $2.10);
    • 2 roasted chicken quarters; (less than three dollars);
    • 1 cup of sliced cabbage; (pennies)
    • ground pepper to taste (pennies)
    • 1 lb of dry rotelle, made by Garofalo Pasta di Gragnano ($1.00 – from Costco, part of a 6-pack); and
    • water to cover the pasta.

    Put in the roasted chicken quarters and the chicken broth into a large-ish pot. Bring it to a boil. Then add the drained beans. Bring to a boil again. Throw in the rotelle. Bring to a boil, then a simmer. Throw in the cabbage at the end. Done. All of this should take less than 90 minutes. Easy. Tasty. Nutritious. Fibrous! What else could you ask for?

    chicken curry command performance

    I promised to help one of my friends with a surprise birthday party. Upon arrival, he beseeched me to prep the chicken curry. Oh dear, it was a study in desperation cooking. See, I made certain assumptions…Oh, but, don’t assume, don’t ever assume anything! I asked, um, do you have chicken stock? No? How about vegetable stock? No? Bouillion? He had the bachelor’s kitchen condition…oh, quite, quite developed. So, when I arrived, what could I find, that might turn into a feasible sauce?

    • chicken breasts;
    • tomato sauce;
    • broadly chopped and sauteed white onion;
    • tumeric;
    • curry powder;
    • cooking oil;
    • gas stove; and a
    • wok.

    I put the spice powders on a hot wok. Because the volatile oils were asphixiating the other people in the kitchen, someone opened the kitchen window despite the sub-freezing (about 1F) weather. Onward ho! I put in the sauteed onions and tomato sauce. Frantic for time, I did not even brown the chicken (!!!), just desperately hoping for hungry diners who would accept a simple simmer for the chicken in the curry sauce. About thirty minutes later, the chicken was a fait accompli. Whew!

    People said they liked it. And, at the end of the evening, there were only a few tablespoons of it left. So, this desperation dish served its purpose: feeding hungry birthday party goers. The tastiness of the sauce compensated for the chicken issues – but never mind that.

    I write all of this only to emphasize that you must try making some kind of curry with tomato when the occasion strikes, because it truly is stupendous. The tomato adds acidity as well as sweetness, carrying all the spices so well. I can’t really explain it, you’ll just have to try it yourself.

    Madras Chicken Curry in the Tundra for less than $1.00: even better than it sounds

    In the tundra, what better dinner could you have than piping hot chicken curry? Yesterday, there was a sale at the supermarket – I got about 3lbs of chicken drumsticks for $2.62 (or, 88 cents/lb). Fabulous price. Yes, I know, I know, Costco sells chicken thighs for 89 cents per lb…living in the land of the severe tundra, one does not always feel motivated to drive into the non-metropolitan areas that Costco typically occupies. And yes, I was a bit concerned that this chicken was 1/2 off…but I have not yet taken ill, so, I am guessing that the chicken was fine. Of course, once I got it home, I had to make a curry from it.

    Madras Chicken Curry in the Tundra (best if it’s below 30F outside!)

    Here it is:

    • skillet;
    • slow cooker* (mine is 6qts);
    • chopsticks or fork;
    • spatula;
    • 3 lbs of chicken drumsticks (or thighs);
    • 2 cans of organic chickpeas (or, 30 oz of wet chickpeas you soaked yourself overnight – approx. 1lb of dry – the canned will increase the saltiness factor);
    • 3/4 lb of yellow onion, broadly chopped;
    • 5 tablespoons of Madras curry (I used Suraj brand, the house brand of Westfair Foods – a Canadian food retailer);
    • 1/4 cup of nguoc mam;
    • 1 Knorr beef bouillion cube;
    • **forgotten from original post**2 cubic inches of ginger;
    • 1 lb of bok choy stems (the white stalk only); and
    • 5 tablespoons of vegetable oil.

    Instructions:

    Turn on your slow cooker to HOT. Chop the onion. Set aside. Wash the chicken. Set aside. Heat the skillet to medium. Pour the curry powder onto the skillet. As it begins to toast, stir vigorously with wooden chopsticks or a metal fork. Do not allow to burn! You should really smell the oils escaping out of the curry powder now. Add 3 tablespoons of the vegetable oil. Keep stirring vigorously. Add the chopped onion. Saute aggressively.

    Once you have browned the onion, set it aside. Wash the skillet. Set to medium high. Wait for the pan to heat up. Add the chicken. Brown each piece on one side, and flip in 7 min or so to the other side. FYI, I had to brown in batches, even though my skillet is large. After you have browned the chicken, set it into the slow cooker – which should be quite hot by now.

    Leave the chicken bits stuck to the skillet.** Set the skillet to high. Peel, then grate the fresh ginger, and add it in. Vigorously fry it. Add 1/4 cup of water to the ngouc mam. Stir. Pour that into the skillet. Next, add the 1 beef boullion cube. Once it melts, add the curry/onion mixture back. Get everything in the skillet simmering hot. Pour into the slow cooker over the chicken. Open the cans of chickpeas. Drain them briefly. Pour into the slow cooker. Mix. Keep the slow cooker on HIGH. Leave for 2 hrs. Add the bok choy. Mix. Leave for another hour. Done!

    Estimated total cost of ingredients: $7.53 and some change.

    Here’s the math:

    1. $2.62 for the chicken;
    2. $1.98 for the canned organic chickpeas {obviously, cheaper if you soak your own};
    3. $1.61 for the yellow onion;
    4. $1.00 for the bok choy ($0.89 per lb);
    5. $0.22 for the beef bouillion {1/6 of$1.29 – you get six cubes in each packet};
    6. $0.10 for the ngouc mam {typically sells for $1.99 for a whole bottle);
    7. pennies for the fresh ginger;
    8. pennies for the curry (that was a gift, but, I’m guessing it costs no more than $10.00 for the whole bag);
    9. pennies for the vegetable oil; and
    10. pennies for the steamed rice that you will eat this with (I buy jasmine rice in a 25lb bag for under $12.00).

    I’m not sure exactly how many servings this recipe will accomodate, but, there are about 5lbs of food here, without counting the rice that you’ll be eating with it! That’s a lot. Even if you ate 1/2 lb of this curry per meal, each such serving would be less than 80 cents. Not bad, for a premium meal. Oh, gosh, how to put it modestly…my chicken curry is legendary!!! Yours for less than a dollar per serving!!!

    *I absolutely adore using my slow cooker to prep this with minimal fuss, mess, and attention span.

    P.S. Tumeric, an ingredient in most curry powders, is a brain booster!

    ** These bits are fond – very important for proper sauce development! Take that, nonstick pans! (updated 05.12.08).

    Update: June 8, 2008 – the photo at the top is from my more recent post about Madras Chicken Curry!

    If you are coming to this post from My Open Wallet, you might be interested in my other posts about one dollar meals.

    because I’m a dictatorial cook

    Went over to a friend’s house recently, to vegetate like eager addicts with a pile of inviting DVD goodness. I brought over food; it was, as somebody put it, enough food to feed the Red Army. And, as someone else noted, it’s important to have food when you are watching hours and hours and hours of entertainment.

    More than happy to feed people, I cautioned them that I would be so honored if they’d let me assemble their first servings. On each of the white plates, I gingerly ladled a few tablespoons of garlicky black bean stew, next to steaming white jasmine rice, and a rolled up, pan-toasted corn tortilla filled with an unorthodox combo: stewed chicken, collards, and a few strands of shredded cheddar. They declared it delicious. A sigh of relief! I subsequently permitted them to assemble their own plates.

    But, see, I had to assemble those first plates and exert control to maximize their appetizing natures. And now, because the results were positive, this will only reinforce my bossiness in the kitchen.