Friday, March 26, 2010

Chicken Stock - The best is homemade

This is part two of the three-part saga story of what you can do with a whole chicken. Hopefully at this point you've made your Roast Chicken per the recipe below. After eating all the meat off that tasty chicken, reserve the bones and any small pieces of fat/skin you may have not felt like eating (if any!!), and start making some stock!

Reserved bones and skin** from previously consumed, extra-tasty chicken
1 medium, white onion, skinned and quartered
2 carrots, cut into 3-inch pieces
1 celery stalk, cut into 3-inch pieces (use the frilly parts too)
3 bay leaves
2 garlic cloves, chopped

**If you have any leftover skin, make sure to add it into the stock pot to cook. It will have all that awesome garlic and rosemary flavor from the chicken and will only serve to make your chicken stock better.

Add all the above ingredients into a large soup pot. Add enough water to the pot to cover the ingredients by 2-3 inches, depending on how much stock you think you'll want. I usually go with can always save it for later. Side note...(I don't add salt to the stock because I'd rather salt it when I use it for making soup later on. But if you want to salt it you can, just be careful not to add too much.)

Put the lid on the pot and cook over medium-high head until the liquid comes to a boil. At this point turn the heat down to medium or medium-low and let simmer for about an hour. Crack the lid open a bit to let the steam out while it's simmering away.

After an hour has passed, turn the heat off and let cool to room temperature. Once cooled, remove the bones from the stock and pour the rest of the contents, veggies and all, into quart jars or a tupperware container. At this point you can use this stock to make soup (recipe coming in a few days!!), or freeze the stock to be used at a later date. When I freeze it, I just make sure to only fill the quart jars about 2/3 full as the liquid will expand as it freezes. Wasn't that easy?

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Roasted Rosemary-Garlic Chicken

Everyone loves chicken, right? So when was the last time you cooked a WHOLE chicken? Sure, it takes longer, and it's easier to just pick up a bag of chicken boob and be on your way. But cooking a WHOLE chicken has more flavor, and more variety, plus you can use the chicken bones to make chicken stock, and then later a taste bud-tantalizing chicken soup. SO, this is part one of three of the uses of a whole chicken:

1 Whole chicken, about 4-5 lbs (I buy the organic, free range bird from Trader Joes)
5 cloves garlic, smashed and minced
2 Tablespoons chopped, fresh rosemary
2 teaspoons coarse sea salt
2-3 Tablespoons olive oil

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

If there's a baggie of chicken parts like the neck and heart etc inside the chicken cavity, please remember to remove this...also feel free to cut off any excess fat at the main opening, just to keep it clean. Pat the outside of the chicken dry with a paper towel.

In a small mixing bowl, stir together the garlic, rosemary, oil and sea salt. Use enough oil to make it easy to spread, but not too liquidy. Place the chicken in a medium-sized baking pan (I used a 12x8 pan), with the back side up. Spoon about half of the oil and herb mixture over the top of the chicken and rub in with your hands. Make sure to get around the wings and all over the backside of the bird. Turn the chicken over and repeat with the rest of the oil and herb mixture, rubbing into the chicken once more, making sure to rub a teaspoon or two INSIDE the bird cavity...this really helps with the overall flavor.

Once you've used all the oil mixture, pop this baby into the oven (middle rack) for one hour. After the first hour, turn the temperature up to 375 degrees and continue to cook another 30 minutes or so, depending on the size of your bird. I used a 5 pounder and it took about 90 minutes. The skin will be a nice golden brown and the garlic will be cooked to perfection. Let sit at room temperature for a few minutes before carving into. Serves 6-8 depending in their appetite.

* I had this roast chicken on top of a nice, large green salad with lots of spinach and veggies. Just place the warm chicken on top of the salad greens along with some of the juices (OK it's really just fat but it tastes SO GOOD) that ran off into the pan, and no need for salad dressing!!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Roasted Asparagus with Sun dried Tomatoes and Garlic

I. Love. Asparagus.

I could care less that is makes your pee stink. It is best fresh from the Farmer's Market, of course, but I can never resist buying it when it goes on sale at the grocery store. I mean really, who could? I usually just roast it in the oven with a little olive oil and sea salt, but last night I wanted something a little different....and you can't go wrong with sun dried tomatoes, am I right or am I right? So try the following and let me know how you liked it!

2 small bunches asparagus** (about 15 stalks in each bunch or so)
2 Teaspoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, smashed and minced
1/2 small onion, sliced thin
5 whole sun dried tomatoes in oil, sliced thin
1/2 tsp dried basil
Sea salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

Wash the asparagus spears making sure to wash the tips well. This is where sand gets collected, and trust me, gritty asparagus is not pleasing. Once washed, snap off the bottom of the stalks. Don't worry about how much snaps off, as it should break at the point where the stalk starts to get woody or stringy. I know cuz I watch the cooking channel. And trust me, you don't want to eat that part anyway. Once you've broken off all the ends, place the asparagus into a 13x9 inch baking pan. If they overlap that's fine.

In a small mixing bowl combine the rest of the ingredients. Pour in a little of the oil from the sun dried tomatoes if you like. Pour this over the asparagus and toss it around in the pan to get the sauce covering fairly evenly. Pop this in the oven for 20 minutes and check for done-ness. I like my asparagus just a tad crispy, but not raw. They should be just about done at this point. If you like them cooked longer just pop them back in. They may start to dry out, and if they do, feel free to cover the asparagus with tin foil. This will make them cook faster so check in another 4 minutes or so after covering. Remove from oven when done to your liking, let cool for a few minutes and enjoy!

Serves 4-5

**The cooking time here is for your average asparagus spear. If you can only find very thick, hulk-like asparagus, say more than 1/3 inch in diameter, then increase the cooking time. Similarly, if you find very thin (and therefore awesome!) asparagus then just watch them in the oven and make sure they don't overcook. No one likes a mushy asparagus spear.