Hello everyone. Meet Harold. Harold, Everyone.
I'm not sure how it happened, but somewhere along the way (because I'm weird and although I don't remember it, this has "me" written all over it) we started naming our food. We always buy chicken at the Fresh Market, and we always name it Harold. Harold, incidentally, is also the name of my father-in-law, who is most definitely not a chicken, and I'm not sure where the name came from. But I digress... I want to share An-Almost-Week-of-Meals with you, all courtesy of one 5 lb. chicken and a few other ingredients.
We LOVE the Barefoot Contessa's recipes. Let me repeat that for emphasis. We LOVE her recipes. If you own just one cookbook, I'd advise this one. Simple lists of the best and freshest ingredients combined simply and expertly. Probably I love it so much because everything is adequately salted (translation: will give you an early heart attack but tastes so good).
The gist of the initial recipe is thus:
Procure one lovely roasting chicken. Stuff a plump lemon, pricked with a fork, into the cavity. Tie the legs shut with kitchen twine. Rub the skin with a smidge of butter and sprinkle with salt. Lay on a bed of chopped root vegetables (I love parsnips, do you? I try to always include parsnip in my winter dishes, but it's so expensive!) We always include red or yukon potatoes, carrots, sliced onion and an entire clove of peeled garlic. Some fresh thyme if you have it. Roast for an hour and a half at 425 until meat thermometer inserted into the leg joint reads 180 degrees. Enjoy. Might I advise the perfect bite, including a bit of onion, carrot and a sliver of potato, each and every time.
This yields a LOT of meat. Cut it from the bones and chop roughly. Hang onto it. Place the chicken bones in a large stew pot, cover with water to the top of the pot, salt (about 1 T. )bring to a boil, and simmer for half an hour. Reserve 2 cups of liquid.
Now for the fun part. The rest of your meals. You will need: a bunch of celery, a half pound of carrots, a bag of quality egg noodles (we buy these at the Fresh Market) some more potatoes, a mix of frozen peas, carrots and beans, a pie crust, some milk, flour and butter, and some puff pastry (buy this stuff.)
Chicken Soup for your Soul:
Chop carrots and celery, and sautee for 10 minutes. Add to the broth, and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the entire bag of noodles. Simmer for 15-20 minutes. Yummm.
Melt 4 T. butter in a large sautee pan. Add 1/2 c. flour, and whisk to disolve lumps. Add 1 1/2 cups milk, cream, or some combination thereof, as well as your two cups reserved broth. Salt to taste (about 1 t.) Cook on medium heat, whisking constantly, until sauce begins to thicken. I like to add a little ground pepper and nutmeg at this point. Dump in the rest of the chopped chicken. Divide in two portions.
Chop up some potatoes, add your peas n' carrots mix, and boil it all for a few minutes. Drain, and add to one of your creamed chicken portions. Fill a lightly baked pie shell (I buy them, because seriously, who has time, although pie crust is ridiculously easy to make in the food processor) with the mix, and top with biscuit crust (2 c. flour, 1/4 c butter, 2 t, baking powder, 1/2 t salt, 1/2 t baking soda cut with pastry knife, and buttermilk to moisten. Bake on high heat (around 450, but keep your eye on it) for 15 minutes. Turn down temperature to 400 and bake 30 minutes more.
Chicken ala Me:
Bake the puffed pastry according to directions. Make pretty little stacks of creamed chicken and pastry. I like some parmesean grated on top.
Now go for a run. None of this is good for you, but it's so, so, comforting when it's 39 degrees and has been raining for a week like it has here.
Images from here, here, and here.