Chicken challenge, Day 3

April 12, 2016

Lemon chicken pasta and veggies. A light taste of spring.

Lemon chicken pasta and veggies. A light taste of spring.

Tonight was my pick of the recycled chicken so far.

I ran across a recipe in the Memphis newspaper this week for a lemon shrimp pasta with green peas. Given that I know you can sub chicken for shrimp in most any recipe you want to, I decided to adapt it.

I pulled the chicken out of the fridge and went ahead and picked the rest of the meat off the bones. The carcass and skin is now in the freezer, and will go into stock at some point. Of the meat, I separated the remaining breast and rib meat from the thigh, two drumsticks and a wing, and chopped it fine, then set it aside. The dark meat got chopped as well; we’ll get to it later.

Sauce stuff. Light, but with some richness.

Sauce stuff. Light, but with some richness.

The sauce, as nearly as I can recreate it (because y’all know I don’t be measuring stuff unless I’m baking) was:

  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 1/2 cup 2 percent milk
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • juice and zest of two small lemons (about 1/4 cup of juice)
  • 3/4 cup grated parmigiano
  • 1/2 tsp dried tarragon
  • 1 cup finely chopped or shredded chicken
  • 1 cup sugar snap peas
  • 1 cup broccoli florets
  • 6 oz pasta (I used tri-color rotini)

The original recipe called for a cup and a half of half and half. That sounded like a heavier sauce than I wanted, so I proceeded to lighten it up. I made a quick roux, not letting the flour brown, and then added the milk, broth, cream and lemon juice and zest, whisking madly at the latter so it wouldn’t curdle. Added in the cheese and the chicken, stirred until the cheese was nicely melted and the sauce smooth, and covered it and set it aside in a warm spot on the back of the stove.

Cooked the pasta, and with a couple of minutes left in the cooking time,  dumped the peas and the broccoli into the pot with it. Drained it, dumped the sauce into the pasta pot, and tossed it all together.

The sauce was a little thin, but that was OK, because Child A had just gotten home and wasn’t ready to eat yet, so I just covered it and put it on low heat. In about 5 or 10 minutes, it had thickened up nicely.

This is good stuff. Veggies still had a little crunch to them. Pasta was nicely al dente (and the colors looked pretty). Tarragon played nicely with the lemon, which in turn played just great with the chicken and the veggies. Fresh would have been better, but the herb garden isn’t planted yet. It tastes fresh and springy.

The remaining thigh, drumsticks and single wing went into a dish of chicken and dressing, which will make meal No. 4 from the bird. I’m not sure when we’ll have it, as we have company tomorrow night and I promised her a steak, and Thursday night I’m out. Maybe Friday, or I may freeze it until next week or so.

The chicken stock will go in the freezer. I’ve spoiled myself to having chicken stock on hand all the time; it’s so easy to go out and fetch in a pint carton or two for whatever dish I’m cooking, thaw it quickly in the microwave, and move on. Noticed today when I got my stock out to make dressing that I was about to run a little low. I actually have two chicken carcasses in the freezer, so I’ll probably just do a big pot of stock and use them both.

When I make stock, I use my big shrimp pot with the strainer basket. The chicken, a carrot cut in chunks, an onion cut in quarters, and a few cloves of garlic and some peppercorns go in the strainer portion, so they can just be lifted out and trashed when the stock is through cooking. Then I strain it through a fine sieve to get any small stuff.  Into pint cartons, cooled a bit, lids on, and out to the freezer we go. Not much is simpler, and not much is handier to have on hand.

And I called today and ordered four more chickens from my farm guy. I’ll pick them up Friday, and we’ll be set for chickens again. Won’t be long until it’s time to grill some chicken quarters. You ‘n y’mama ‘n ’em just let me know when you want to come over, and we’ll fire up the grill and make a recipe of basting sauce and get busy!




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