Recycling R Us

March 17, 2015

Shells, recycled meat sauce, grated parmigiano. Excellent.

Shells, recycled meat sauce, grated parmigiano. Excellent.

The nice thing about an Italian roast chicken is that it recycles through several other meals.

Four of us pretty much decimated the four-pound bird Sunday, but there were some bits of white meat left as well as both drumsticks. That’ll be enough chicken for — something, yet to be determined; soup, or chicken and dressing, or, well, something.

Then there’s the carcass itself. It will become chicken stock, perhaps tomorrow, as I have not yet gotten to it. I can generally get about six pints of stock out of a bird, and they go in the freezer, and I never have to deal with buying chicken stock that’s chock full of salt and not nearly as good as mine.

(To make chicken stock, put the chicken carcass, skin and all, with any shards of meat, in a pot; add an onion, cut into quarters, an unpeeled carrot or two, cut in chunks, and a few cloves of garlic. Put as much water as you can get in there, leaving a little room for it to boil, and add salt and pepper. Bring it to a boil uncovered (so it won’t boil over); turn it down to low and let it simmer an hour or so. Let it cool, strain it into containers, and freeze it. Boom.)

Then there’s the meat stuffing, and the attendant meatballs. Sometimes someone will eat some of it, but for whatever reason, generally not. Maybe it’s because the stuffing’s main raison d’etre is to flavor the chicken and keep it moist, and the chicken’s so good no one has time for ground beef. But there’s nothing wrong with that ground beef.

As I was dealing with the chicken remains Sunday night, I was contemplating what I could do with the meat stuffing and three of the four meatballs I’d made (son-in-law ate one), or, the better part of a pound of ground beef. And it occurred to me: “Self? When you make meat sauce for pasta, you cook the ground beef first. This is cooked ground beef. Make meat sauce.” And self agreed that was a reasonably decent idea.

So I put the meatballs and stuffing on a cutting board and whacked it up into small crumbles, which I put in a saucepan. I added a can of diced tomatoes — fire-roasted, because that’s what I had picked up at the grocery, all the home-canned ones being gone (sigh) — and a can of tomato paste, to get some intense tomato flavor without a lot of liquid, because I wanted a thick, bolognese-ish sauce. But that wasn’t enough liquid, so I added about 3/4 of a cup of beef broth. For good measure, I diced up the onion that had roasted with the chicken, and about six cloves of garlic confit. Added a little more oregano, and set it to simmering.

This made a most excellent meat sauce, and we enjoyed it over shell pasta because the only linguine I had was gluten-free and I didn’t want that. Pretty doggoned sporty, particularly for a recycled meal.

So that was last night. Tonight is corned beef, cabbage, potatoes, carrots and rye bread, in honor of my Irish ancestors. Should have picked up a six-pack of Harp’s, but I forgot, so I’ll make do with Jameson’s.

May the luck of the Irish be with you ‘n y’mama ‘n ’em!



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