Despite the fact that I live in a very small space, I simply cannot stop collecting those LCBO Food and Drink magazines. They lean in tottering piles in the bookcase, on end tables, on the bathroom shelf and the kitchen counter, even though I don’t even cook from them that often. I just love to read them over and over and gaze at the splendid photography. The current cover photo is a particular work of art (Spring 2014); a macro view of a buttery, crisp-skinned roasted chicken snuggled into a bed of glazed carrots and browned potatoes. The two-columned recipe, Lemon Rosemary Brined Roast Chicken and Vegetables, lurks inside.
I say “lurks” because, although I am always totally seduced by these photographs, there is a reason why I don’t cook from this magazine very often and it is inherent in this very recipe which calls for brining the chicken for 8, or up to 24, hours. (To be fair to Food and Drink there are easier chicken recipes included in the issue.) Now I have brined a chicken — I have even brined a turkey, in a laundry basket, in the cold garage — when I lived in a house. But make no mistake. This is a serious PROJECT.
Anyway, if you are determined to attempt this so delicious looking and so time-consuming feast, I have a few suggestions for making it all worthwhile:
First of all, remind yourself that two chickens are not twice as much work as one. I shall try brining one chicken in a re-sealable plastic bag in the refrigerator (as the magazine suggests) and the other on my balcony (I know I can depend upon cold weather this weekend and I still have that old laundry basket.) I will cook both together in the oven. Eat one with friends (recipe serves six, so plan accordingly) and stash the carcass in the freezer where the remains will eventually end up in a stockpot. Separate the dark meat from the light meat of the second chicken and freeze separately for meals to come. (Don’t forget, once again, to keep the bones.)
The meat from the second cooked chicken is going to come in very handy for cooking all sorts of things. The dark meat is wonderful in stir fries or soups and in so many different types of casseroles. It can be used in chicken pot pies, chicken divan, on pizza, in chicken enchiladas, chicken Alfredo, chicken lasagne and that old, tried and true favorite, chicken and mushroom casserole with noodles and sour cream.
The leftover white meat will make another meal and I like to use it for sandwiches or chicken salad. I must admit, that Gwyneth Paltrow’s recipe is my favorite. I know that everyone makes light of her cooking experiments (mostly vegan and gluten free) and her wide-eyed shopping advice( $258 set of Hermès playing cards? $100 sling shot?) But here’s her very simple chicken salad recipe and I promise you that it’s a winner.
adapted from her website, Goop
2 1/2 cups shredded cooked chicken
1 large stalk celery, diced
1/2 green apple, peeled and diced
1/3 cup toasted walnuts, roughly chopped
2 scallions, thinly sliced
2 handfuls arugula
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tsp fresh lime juice
1/2 tsp coarse salt
freshly ground black pepper
Stir everything together.
The final benefit of the two cooked chickens is, of course, the stock. Fortunately the bones and carcasses will keep in the freezer for months and the stock can also be frozen, so this can be made at your leisure. I like to simmer it on the stove on Sunday morning while reading the New York Times, or on Saturday afternoon while listening to Saturday afternoon at the opera. The fragrance of the stock always makes me feel so homey and frugal. And having made the stock, just looking at it sitting there smugly in the freezer, makes me feel so happy, secure in the knowledge that I will always be able to put a tasty meal on the table, in the future, in no time at all.
There are hundreds of worthy recipes for stock — some calling for wings and necks, chicken feet, livers and giblets and so on. Here is a very simple and very good recipe that I have used for ages.
Chicken Stock from leftover Roast Chicken
adapted from Gourmet magazine, March 2008
1 onion, quartered
2 celery ribs, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
1 head of garlic, halved crosswise
1/4 tsp black peppercorns
2 thyme sprigs
8 parsley sprigs, including stems
4 quarts of water
1) Bring all ingredients to a boil in an 8 quart stockpot. Reduce heat and simmer, skimming foam occasionally, 2 hours.
2) Strain stock through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl, pressing on and then discarding solids. If you have more than 6 cups, boil to reduce; if less, add water. If using stock right away, skim off and discard fat. If not, chill stock (covered once cooled) and discard fat once it solidifies.
You can use 3 – 4 lbs wings, neck and back from uncooked chicken as well. The stock can be chilled up to 3 days or frozen for up to 3 months.