How To Make 7 Healthy Meals Out Of Just 1 Chicken
The Debrief: Take one roast chicken.... and sort yourself out for the rest of the week
‘Erm, are none of your chickens organic?’ Yes this sentence actually came out of my mouth when I went to a supermarket recently. No, I’m not a lentil-knitting hippie or a fully paid-up member of Highgate Mums; just a vaguely health conscious twenty-something (ish) food lover and I don’t relish the thought of eating meat pumped full of water and antibiotics.
Just as most of us would rather shell out an extra £4 for an ok sauvignon blanc to avoid the bottom shelf stuff, I’m happy to put my hand a *little* bit further in my pocket to make sure my chicken hasn’t been fiddled with. And I’m not the only one; the Organic Trade Board say they’ve seen more demand than ever for organic food thanks to people getting on the Deliciously Ella bandwagon – and they believe it’s affordable for everyone, not just 4x4 driving smugsters or long limbed glowy ex-models. They reckon one chicken can make seven meals, and when you look at it like that, parting with your last payday fiver for two sad pale skinless chicken breasts is pretty mad. They’re calling it their #thriftyorganic challenge, and I’m doing it for your reading and eating pleasure – which is why I found myself lambasting a poor shelf stacker for his lack of whole organic birds.
Once you get your mitts on one (cheers Waitrose, £7.58) here’s what to do.
Use generic and easily transferable flavours like lemon, garlic, parsley and onions to maximise how you can use the bird for the remainder. No need for loads of different fancy seasonings anyway as slow grown organic chickens are WAAAAYYY tastier than the usual. Enjoy a nice roast then joint it (just have one leg – or breast, whatever) and reserve the carcass, stock and all the rest for later.
2. Greek Salad
Feeling super-healthy one day? Make yourself a Greek salad using any salady bits you’ve got around along with some olives, feta and the nicest dressing ever (red wine vinegar, oregano, olive oil) and half a chicken breast. It makes a good take-to-work lunch sans red onion.
3. Penne Pollo Arrabiata
Pasta. Everyone’s favourite easy dinner, and all you need to do is reduce ½ a tin of tomatoes along with some olive oil, garlic, basil, a pinch of sugar and lots of chilli then stir in your already-cooked-ready-and-waiting chicken breast. Bellissima.
4. Chicken & Sweetcorn Soup
Sure, the carcass looks horrible, but my gosh does it make delicious soup. Imagine your favourite Covent Garden carton and now times it by a hundred, because that’s what you’re going to make. Just get a big pan, put all the bones in it and fill with boiling water. Leave to simmer for an hour or two, until the water has reduced by about half and you’ll be left with a lovely nutritious broth. Strip the meat from the wings and use this. Add some sweetcorn, your choice of herbs (tarragon FTW), a swirl of double cream and maybe even some cubed potato if you want to thicken it and you’re good to go.
5. Cheat’s Pad Thai
Now this is by no means an authentic recipe for pad Thai, but it’s supremely tasty nonetheless. Get any generic bag of mixed stir-fry veg that includes beansprouts and fry it off with oil, fish sauce, garlic, chilli and your other half of chicken breast (shredded) that was leftover from the Greek Salad. Add a splash of soy, a tablespoon of good-quality crunchy peanut butter and then crack an egg in, mixing it all together. Finish with lime juice, more peanuts and some sugar.
6. Spring Veg Risotto
Risotto sounds hard but it’s not. It’s just a lot of stirring. And hey, no need to actually cook any meat for this, so you can probs cope with some stirring. Start by melting butter in a pan and adding Arborio rice. When it's coated and glistening add the stock that was left over in the roasting pan – veg and all. Now add garlic and any wine you’ve got hanging about. Stir the whole time and keep adding more stock / hot water. Add any veg you want (we went for broad beans and peas), then your chicken (the meat stripped from the carcass is ideal). Finish with as much Parmesan as you can afford.
7. Chicken Curry
This is my elderly Indian neighbour’s recipe (or it would be if she wasn’t vegetarian). Get your other half of the tinned tomatoes out and put in a pan with tbsp coconut oil, tsp turmeric, tsp ground cumin, tsp ground coriander, tsp mustard seeds and tsp fennel seeds and LOADS of garlic – I’m talking 4 cloves here. When the oil rises to the top add a squeeze of minced ginger and chuck in your veg of choice (I did okra, but 99% of people find it slimy and yuck). Tear off all the meat from your remaining chicken leg and any more you have left (I had loads I didn’t use) and add to the sauce. Serve with basmati rice or naan.
Aside from the chicken, I made all of this with standard store-cupboard items, or things I had languishing in my fridge or freezer. I probably spent another £5 or so on ingredients in total, so yes OK my chicken was maybe £3 more than others on the shelf, but it tasted amazing and next time I need antibiotics because I’m actually ill, they will probably work as my body won’t have developed some weird immunity to them from eating weird medicated meat from sad sick chickens. A win, win situation!
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