Chicken challenge

April 8, 2016

Winner, winner, chicken dinner No. 1

Winner, winner, chicken dinner No. 1

Wanna play chicken?

No, not the kind when you barrel down the highway at high speed, headed straight for another vehicle, waiting to see who flinches first. I may or may not have partaken in that foolishness when I was a kid, but not since I (a) began paying my own auto and health insurance, and (b) got over the notion I was immortal.

For the record, I started the first when I was 19, and the second when I was about, oh, 40. Arrested development (at least in some regards), that’s me.

No, this is a culinary challenge having to do with chicken. Over on the food forum (can I just tell y’all I LOVE, and y’all should scoot on over there and peruse it, whether you sign up and choose to comment, or just read, and if you really like it, you can donate a small sum to help keep it out there), someone raised the question of how many meals one could get from a single roast chicken. The answers, to date, have ranged from two to seven.

So I thawed a chicken t’other day, cut him in half, and roasted him.  His two halves weighed out 2 pounds, 6 ounces when he was done. For good measure, I roasted his dissected breastbone, backbone and wing tips with him, so’s to include them in the stock I plan to make from his nearly-nude carcass after I’ve picked him clean. Stock, as a major ingredient, may or not constitute a meal, but I’m going to argue for same.

Life being what it is, effed-up schedules intervened, so I stuck the bird in the fridge in a big ziplock bag and hauled him back out tonight, to slice off some breast slices as the protein portion of Meal No. 1.  Unless otherwise indicated, these meals will be for two, those two being Child A and me.

This one had with him a cranberry gastrique, or a sort-of gastrique, the classic version of which involves caramelizing sugar, deglazing with vinegar, and adding fruit. In this instance, I had the elements, but switched up the chronology, boiling some dried cranberries in a combo of red wine and balsamic vinegar, pureeing with an immersion blender, and then adding honey and butter to finish off the sauce. It wasn’t enough butter to call it a beurre blanc, (or beurre rouge, as the case may be), and it wasn’t a true gastrique, but that’s what I’m calling it, so if you disagree, take a number and stand in line.

I nuked the chicken slices for just 15 seconds, to take the chill off, and stuck them on a dinner plate. Added my green beans, which had been blanched and then drained and steamed with some butter for a few minutes, and some sweet potato wedges that had been tossed in olive oil and dusted with a bit of seasoned salt, and then very nearly left in the oven too long. The final element on the plate was a quick cucumber and tomato salad, with a dressing of rosemary white wine vinegar, olive oil and oregano.

This, for two, accounted for a bit more than half the available white meat, I’ll estimate. My future plans are for the remaining breast meat to go in a chicken and asparagus risotto; the thighs to go in a pasta primavera with lemon; and the meat from the drumsticks and wings to go in a sort of carnitas-ish dish with Korean galbi sauce, as I have some of the bottled variety, and maybe serve it as a sort of bhan mi sandwich with some quick pickled veggies. Or in a lettuce wrap. And then we’d have the stock, which would make a couple more meals.

FWIW, I find a decided difference in quality in thigh meat and drumstick/wing meat, from a roasted chicken. It always seems to me that the meat from the drumstick and wing is a little dryer and a little more stringy than that from the thigh, which is much like breast meat but a shade darker. I prefer to segregate it out and put it in a form where it’ll be soaked in a sauce of some kind. Your mileage may vary.

In any event, this was a quite exceptional meal, and not too time intensive to put on the table. It would be quite easy to recreate with your basic supermarket rotissiere chicken, and then you ‘n y’mama ‘n ’em could take your own stab at the chicken challenge.

C’mon….play a game of chicken with me.



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