Thursday, July 16, 2009

It Also Fights Frizz

I was proud of my resourcefulness last night.

There was a whole chicken in my freezer just waiting to be used as part of an inspired meal. Only, it's been far too hot lately to think about roasting it, and my other whole chicken favorite - chicken and dumplings - didn't sound too refreshing either. But chicken salad sandwiches did sound nice on a summer day when eating anything warm would have sent me over the edge.

I've really conquered my dislike of whole chickens over the past year, and have even come to enjoy cooking with them for a few reasons.

1) They're cheap. A package of breasts is close to $6 around here, and I can get a 5 lb. chicken for about $5. Way better.
2) They're versatile. Shredded chicken can be used for so many different recipes, and can easily be frozen if there's leftovers.
3) There are always leftovers, because a whole chicken has a lot of usable meat.
4) They can be used to make homemade chicken broth - saving money on another of my pantry staples.

So I cooked the chicken, seasoning the approximately 8 cups of broth at the same time. Less than half of the cooked chicken went into my chicken salad sandwiches, so I froze the rest for another meal. Feeling pretty good about my money saving, dinner making skillz, I chopped the rest of the ingredients for the salad and anticipated my mouthwatering meal. It's a very simple recipe of chicken, finely chopped apples and grapes, and mayo. Very delicious, too. (Though you wouldn't know it by watching my darling daughters trying to choke it down. It wasn't pretty.)

Then I headed for the bread.

The bread that was triple wrapped in the deep freeze.

Minutes away from a successful meal, and my bread was frozen solid.

Having no other options, I dug it out, unwrapped it and tried to figure out what to do next. It was definitely hard as a rock, so just waiting a few minutes for it to thaw wouldn't work. I didn't want to stick it on defrost in the microwave, either, because I was sure that would mean soggy bread. Pop it in the oven? Croutons. Nothing seemed quite right.

Until the best idea ever came to me. The hair dryer.

Oh yes, I did. I sat on my bedroom floor with slices or bread laid across my lap, blasted them with hot air for a minute or two, and BOO-YAH. Thawed bread. Slightly dry, but ready to eat. I grilled them with butter on the stove top and we were in business.

Chicken salad sandwiches. Now with more volume.

6 comments:

  1. Nice! Hey, if it works, right? P.S. I have never cooked an entire chicken before, but you inspired me!

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  2. Oooh, you are resourceful! I don't know if I would have come up with that idea!

    And I'm especially impressed at your whole chicken cooking skills. I'll admit, the whole chicken intimidates me :) How did you cook it?

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  3. Bread thawing in the bedroom is even kookier than blending outside after dark. People would love watching a cooking show with you as the star. Very entertaining and inspired! ;)

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  4. I should keep my hair dryer next to the blender. :)

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  5. Lenae - There's nothin' to it but to do it! (This is a phrase I use a lot - and it works here as well as any other time!) You should check out the recipe for roasted chicken in my recipes label. It's DIVINE.

    Amy - Same thing I told Lenae - just jump right in and do it. You'll be proud of yourself :) I just covered the chicken in water in a big stock pot, put it over med-high heat to get it boiling, then turn it down to med-low with a lid half-cocked on the top so it won't boil over. I added salt, celery salt, chicken base (which is basically boullion in paste form - wonderful stuff) and let it cook for a couple of hours. I don't know exactly how long, but I just kept an eye on it. I'd bet that an hour of near-boiling would do it. Sometimes I add big chunks of carrots, onions, and celery, but I wasn't interested this time. When the chicken's done, I set it out in a bowl to cool off before removing the skin and picking off the chicken. This part is tedious and takes awhile. But it's easy-peasy, and you can use the chicken for so many things - soup, enchiladas, casseroles, sandwiches, etc. I think I got about 4 or 5 cups of shredded chicken this time around. Then I strained the broth to get out any bits leftover, and filled ziplocks with about a cup of broth each, froze those flat, and will use them next time a recipe calls for a can of broth. This broth is pretty rich, so I add water to make up the difference between what a storebought can would hold.
    Glad you asked?? :)

    Diane - Hmmm...would I have to shower daily to host a cooking show? Wear makeup? Stand up straight?

    Yes?! There goes my chance :)

    Lerin - I like your style.

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  6. i love cooking whole chickens! i use my crock pot, though, and do a similar set of seasonings. i usually fill up the crock pot to 2/3 full with water, herbs, etc after popping in the chicken. the meat literally falls off the bones, and then i just strain out the stock. we did chicken salad for dinner this week with pita pockets. the kids were absolutely enthralled with the pocket idea! my boys just adore pockets!

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Hmm...And how did that make you FEEL?