Frideswide O’Neill offers some frugal tips for your shopping, cooking and eating habits. This week: chicken.
Three meals: one chicken
As thrifty students, we often avoid whole chickens in the supermarket in favour of neatly packaged breasts, thighs and drumsticks under the impression that they work out cheaper. However, chicken doesn’t have to be expensive. Here are 3 recipes for 3-4 people that show you just how far a roast chicken can go if you’re not afraid to get your hands dirty!
1. Roast Chicken
Firstly, the roast. Try rubbing some butter with herbs and spices (smoked paprika is great) into the skin before it goes into the oven. Opt for cheap vegetables like carrots and potatoes to roast in the same tin. Once the skin gets crispy, cover the chicken with some foil. Baste as you go, to keep the chicken moist.
2. Chicken Pie
Next up is everyone’s favourite, pie. A classic chicken pie needs one sheet of puff pastry (roll out some ready-made), a pack of mushrooms, three leeks and half a pack of bacon. Cook up all these ingredients with some onions and garlic, and while these are cooking, strip the remaining chicken from the bones and add that to the mix. Now for the white sauce – great to have up your sleeve – simply measure out 40g of butter and melt it over a gentle heat. Then measure 40g of plain flour (if you don’t have any scales a big tablespoon of each is a good approximation). Mix this in quite vigorously until you have a thick paste and continue heating for two minutes. Start adding milk little by little, mixing all the time, until you have a smooth sauce that resembles the thickness of custard. Pour this over the chicken mix in a big dish and cover with puff pastry, tucking in the sides. Bake for 30 minutes.
The key ingredient for a homemade soup is a good stock. Simply put the chicken carcass into a big pan, cover it with cold water and put it on to boil. Chuck in a roughly chopped onion, herbs like bay leaves and thyme, and vegetable trimmings of carrots or celery. Boil the stock for about an hour and a half until it has reduced by at least a third, constantly skimming off the scum that bubbles to the top. While the stock is boiling, make the base of the soup. Dice two onions, crush some garlic and gently sweat these. Add your chosen main ingredient to the pan – peas, lentils or butternut squash, for example – season well and add herbs and spices of your choice. Once the stock is ready, strain the liquid into the pan and boil until the vegetables are soft enough to blend.