Eating well without breaking the bank or cooking every minute of the day requires strategies to economize on time and money. One way I like to do that is to start with one dish and transform it into another (and another and another). With a turkey or ham, that’s not too hard because there is usually lots of leftover meat. But even a simple roasted chicken can be given new life several times over. My most ambitious feat yet has been to cook one chicken, four ways. Check it out: slow-cooker roasted chicken becomes chicken pot pie, fried rice and chicken broth. Three out of these four recipes I have shared already on the blog, but now I’m putting it altogether for you to show you how to save time, and throwing in a simple description of how I make fried rice.
I have never perfected the timeless art of roasting a chicken. I can handle a turkey (perhaps because everyone’s expectations of the bird are pretty low, let’s be honest). But roasted chicken has me stumped. I’ve tried numerous can’t-miss recipes (techniques really) and I still failed. Usually they come out undercooked, so I put them back in the oven and let it go a little longer, which turns out to be too long. Dry chicken. Boo!
I’ve roasted whole birds on a rack and on a bed of root vegetables and a rack over a bed of root vegetables. I’ve slid butter and herbs under the skin (ew!), roasted it breast side up and breast side down, and even flipped it part way through. Stuffed it. Left the cavity empty. You name it, I’ve tried it. To no avail.
With breast meat that tends to dry out and thigh meat that determines the proper cooking temperature, I feel like the deck is stacked against me. It’s like betting against the house in Vegas – I’m gonna lose, it’s just a matter of how badly.
This weekend a cold took me down like a lion fells a gazelle. It snuck up from behind, bit me in the ass and laid me flat. Like that poor wounded animal I kept trying to get up and escape my fate. In my case it was to attend to my family and home, trying to carry on as usual, but I ended up splayed out and whimpering shortly after each attempt.
Before I succumbed completely, I did manage to whip up a quick broth-based soup with noodles and veggies. The broth I made last week never made it into the freezer, so it was easy to just dump in some chopped carrots, celery and kale and a handful of tiny pasta. Man, did that taste good. And it made me feel better, too.
I’m not sure whether it’s because of the busy schedules, getting dark early, or the slight nip in the air, but the beginning of fall reminds me to bust out my slow cooker. (They are actually a great way to cook in the summer, too, because they don’t heat the kitchen too much, but we tend to crave the fresher taste of quick cooking on the grill or stovetop in summer. When fall rolls around again, I want to return to the slow cooking taste of stews and other hearty dishes that have been gently cooking all day.
But this is not one of those recipes. No, this is yogurt. And it’s so simple you won’t believe it. The only tricky part is finding a day you are home long enough to attend to it periodically. It requires only a few minutes here and there (shown below in parentheses), but the timing matters. Let me break it down with an example: Continue reading Homemade yogurt: Another great use for a slow cooker→