Thursday, April 9, 2009

Super Frugal Cooking: Reusing Stock Chicken

I guess to begin with I need to make a distinction between several ways of making stock. The first method, which is what you see in cookbooks, involves buying a whole chicken or something like that and then boiling the heck out of it. This inevitably leaves you with delicious stock and a bunch of flavorless chicken.

The second method, which isn't particularly relevant here, is using only inedible chicken parts to make stock. For instance we save all our bones and scraps (like wing tips) in a bag in the freezer and then when we have enough we use those to make stock, maybe with a bag of chicken feet (think I'm kidding?) thrown in. I like this method a lot because it makes you feel like you really aren't wasting anything. But to be fair I'll admit that is a cultural bias, in some places chicken feet aren't considered inedible.

So back to the method of chicken stock that involves a whole carcass. What bugs me about that is all the wasted meat. Some people still use the 4 hour boiled meat for some things but I've tasted it and it just doesn't work for me. So I started doing my own version of this process which involves cooking the chicken for only an hour, taking off the meat and freezing it and returning the bones and scraps to the stock to continue cooking. This way you get chicken that is still edible (although not the tastiest you've ever had) and good stock.

(Bag-o-cooked-shredded-frozen-defrosted Chicken)

While I have described this method previously I don't think I've ever really talked about what we do with the shredded frozen chicken. You might expect these bags to languish in the freezer, forgotten and frostbitten but quite the contrary, they are in high demand. This is because we've found they make really good chicken pot pie (or chicken and biscuits, or chicken and dumplings, or chicken over rice).

Of course when we make any of these variations on the basic creamy chicken stew with veggies over starch recipe we use our homemade chicken stock, which is kind of funny because we are reuniting the chicken with the stock. And although these all come out good there is just something about the frozen chicken that doesn't quite live up to using fresh (by grocery store standards) chicken. But this is a frugal recipe so of course we're going to find a way around that arent' we?

One day inspiration struck me, why not try a little curry powder? (Or perhaps it was the need to use up the gigantic jar of Madras curry powder I had bought.)

(This is the aforementioned giant jar of curry powder.)

I put in a couple teaspoons or so to my basic recipe (flour, fat, stock, milk, misc. veggies, chicken), not so much that it tasted like a full on curry but enough that you got a little of the spiciness. And it was surprisingly good and made up for what the chicken itself lacked. (I'm not giving you a recipe since I don't really have a set one but if you wanted one you could look up any good chicken pot pie recipe and just add a couple teaspoons of curry powder.)

Anyone else use curry powder in something that isn't strictly Indian cuisine? I'm curious because this is a new concept to me and I'm surprised I don't see it as an ingredient more often.


  1. I make a 5 root soup which includes about 1 teaspoon of curry powder. Any five root veggies, but always including potato, diced. Chop one large onion and fry in a little oil, add the curry powder and the diced veggies. Just cover with boiling water and simmer until the veggies are tender, blitz to a puree.
    I've used carrots, sweet potato, turnip, swede, celeriac, artichokes, basically whatever comes in our weekly veg box.

  2. That sounds delicious and I love that you can use celeriac in it! I'm always buying it at the farmer's market but no one else likes it so it's hard to use it.

  3. When I make artichokes, I flavor my dipping mayo with curry powder. Mmmm...

    Also - I always make stock after I do a roast chicken, we eat the chicken, and then the bones, and skin, and the neck, feet and any other part I didn't bake, plus the other stock regulars all go in a pot to boil away. We get to eat the delicious chicken and then the stock is flavored by the roastedness of it all. Yum.