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The Perpetual Chicken

Today is day 3 of the residence in our house of the perpetual chicken.

She started her life with us…well, not so much life  really as the final post mortem phase of her corporeal existence…She started her sojourn with us as the Sunday roast, served with roasties and 3 types of veg. She was a well stacked bird. Her ample breasts would (proportionally speaking) put Jordan to shame and she cost a mere £5 from Sainsbury’s, so a good deal cheaper too, though somewhat classier.

I was going to name her Wanda (geddit?) but it seemed rude to eat something with a proper name.

Time was we’d buy smaller birds and sometimes have enough leftovers for the next day, but now, economies must be made and, in the absence of loaf and fish multiplying deities, minor chicken miracles must be wrought. I have mastered the art of ekeing out a single large bird to feed the family for 3-4 days, sometimes longer. Needs must y’know.

So, for the frugal amongst you, here’s how to feed a family of four for a week or more on one large chicken, some store cupboard staples and a few veggies (vegetables, not vegetarians, that is) for about twenty quid or so. Prices are a rough guide based on Sainsburys but will be more or less the same at any supermarket.

Day 1 – Roast chicken

One chicken (£5), a bag of spuds (from 99p), any combination of frozen veg of choice (£1 per bag from Iceland), oil for the roasties and seasoning. We has peas, beans and carrots from stock so cost about £6.37.

We also had pudding – Pear Popovers (see previous post), which cost nothing extra as all ingredients were from stock or the garden, served with a scoop of Toffee Ice Cream (£1 from Iceland and a drizzle of single cream (42p), the remains of which will be used for another pud later in the week.

Day 2 – Enchiladas

This is another family favourite using leftover chicken, also a small tin of sweetcorn (about 50p), a pack of sandwich wraps (99p for 6), grated cheddar*, a carton of  passatta (creamed/sieved tomatoes) (51p), an onion (£1/bag), a red pepper (60p), smoked paprika** (alt. chilli powder), oil and seasoning,  cocoa powder and sweet chilli sauce.

One enchilada/wrap per person is plenty, leaving two for school/work sandwiches. Had no sweet chilli sauce so used a pinch more of the paprika instead. Total cost £3.60, or less since I counted a bag of onions  and another family meal for less than £1 per head.

*Cheddar is a stock item for us and I look for special offers so usually 400-500g  for £2-£3. You won’t use more than half of that.
**I love the smoky piquant taste of the paprika – you don’t need much so it will last you for months and is a worthwhile investment for the spice cupboard (£1.69 at Waitrose)

Day 3 – Chicken Pasta Bake

Chicken, Fusilli (75p), 1pt milk (40p), veg – broccoli, cauli, sweetcorn (from freezer), sauce (approx 50p – see recipe). Since most of the ingredients are from stock, the entire meal will cost under£2. Push the boat out and serve with Garlic Baguettes (£1 per 2 at Sainsbury’s) and it’ll still come to under £3.

I’ve skipped this is favour of a couple of days worth of crusty chicken mayo rolls for my lunch and am moving on to…

Day 4+ – Chicken Stoup

This is essentially the remaining carcass and small bits of meat used to make a stock base for stews and soups. I’ll add some spuds, a stew pack (60p-£1) or equivalent and whatever other veg are seasonal/preferred and this will last for at least 2 days. Less than £1 per day.

The next day – will add more liquid and veg if needed. If blended, a pack of noodles (40p-50p) or some vermicelli for a chicken noodle soup or a tablespoon of curry paste for a spicy soup. It matures nicely and also freezes or chills well if we fancy a chicken-free interlude.

This chicken could live (after a fashion) on…and on….and on.

I don’t do weights and measures – other than in baking, quantities are usually just a matter of preference.
Fry the onion and pepper in a little oil with the smoked paprika or chilli powder until soft. Add the passatta, plus (opt) a tbsp or so of cocoa powder for a richer taste, and heat until warm. Put some diced/chopped chicken, sweetcorn and grated cheese together with a little sweet chilli sauce (or a sprinkle of chilli or smoked paprika), in a wrap, then arrange in an oiled baking dish on top of a little of the sauce. Pour remaining sauce over the wraps and grate a little more cheese on top. Bake at about 200C for about 15 mins until the cheese is bubbling.
Chicken Pasta Bake
Cook up some Fusilli and drain when al dente. Make a quantity of white sauce using 1 pt milk (40p), cornflour and seasoning. You can add a little chicken stock or cheese and mustard powder, as preferred, or if feeling particularly lazy, a tin of Campbells condensed Chicken and White Wine soup (50p) works a treat. Mix the pasta together with the chicken and your preferred veg (thawed or lightly steamed). Put in an oiled baking dish, grate some cheese on top (I use a mixture of dried breadcrumbs, cheddar and parmesan for a nice crunchy topping) and bake (around 200C is a safe bet) until the topping is browned.
Chicken & Veg Stoup
On Day 2, strip off the big bits of chicken for the Enchiladas, pop the remaining carcass together with any small pickings and jelly in a  pressure cooker (a large saucepan works fine too) with a little water and steam until the meat is falling off the bone. Lift out carcass while still warm (not hot) and pick off as much meat as you can, discarding bones, skin and cartilage. This is your stock base and can be put to one side until needed. To this add 1 chicken and 1 veg stock cube and a stew pack (60p-£1) or your preferred veg (sweet potatoes, butternut squash….) and stew until soft. Add spuds or sweet potatoes later if you don’t want them to disintegrate. Serve as a chunky stoup or whizz up with a blender for a thick smooth soup and serve with crusty rolls.
7 September 2010

4 Comments to “The Perpetual Chicken”

  1. *You* shop in Iceland ?? 🙂

    • Mainly go to Iceland for frozen veg, ice cream and soft drinks. Don’t bother with the Chav meals, but they do quite good value frozen chicken breasts and fish fillets too, though I usually prefer fresh.

  2. I don’t get the Wanda thing. *sits in perplexed silence awaiting enlightenment*

    But, on a brighter note, am loving the recipes!

    Are you not taking part in that Getting To Know you thing that I tagged you in? Honestly, I’m not mortally wounded that NO-ONE that I tagged is taking part *sniffs armpits suspiciously*

    Ali x

    • She’s a Wanda-ful chicken ;D
      I looked at the tagged questions and most of them are not really things that I’d consider revealing to the world at large, so most of the answers would have been “I’d rather not say” 🙁 Happy to tell my friends about my personal life and loves but not splash it about on the interwebs.

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