Sunday, 21 April 2013

The chicken, the whole chicken...

Not as serious as it sounds.

It's always nice to come home to a warm soup and hot crusty bread on a cold, wet or windy day. There's something so satisfying sipping soup all rugged up with butter melting into hot bread rolls. Even better - when you know you've made the stock and soup yourself. You know what's gone into the stock - yes, chicken, celery, carrot of course, but love. I'm sure you'll agree love makes everything taste better and even look better! 

Good chicken stock needs good chicken bones. I prefer to use chemical free chickens which I can only find as a whole chicken. I used to be daunted by the 'whole chicken'. If I'm not roasting it all at once, what to do? I was a little stuck. Over the last year this is how I've come to make the most of the whole chicken. This ensures there's no waste, some for now and some for later. Freezer options are everyone's best friend when you are tired, sick, stuck for ideas or just want to take it easy. 

Two whole chickens five ways
1. Chicken stock 
cut used: chicken carcass
Made and once cooled can be frozen in many different sized containers according to your preferred use. Our current uses are risotto, soup with pasta and/or vegetables added, liquids to sauces and vegetables.

2. Chicken, vegetable and rice casserole
cut used: 2x legs, 1x breast
A staple freezer find for our children, a variety of fresh greens are added when reheating for colour, bulk and interest.

3. Roast chicken and vegetables
cut used: 2x legs, 4x drumsticks 
Classic. I cook this when it's just for my husband and me.

4. Chicken salad (image to be updated)
cut used: 3x breasts, enjoyed with sisters on this occasion
Poached and once cooled prepared into a sandwich filling or to have with a green salad on the side. Yesterday's combination was made with rocket, royal gala, walnuts, celery, mayonnaise, mustard (seeded adds an additional textured to the salad). 


5. Chicken schnitzel (image to be updated)
cut used: 3x breasts
Cut thinly these can be used as a main course, added to salads or on sandwiches.


The above recipes all provide practical life activities for my children.

The stock and casserole is about gathering, washing and sorting the vegetables and herbs for the pots. 

My son particularly enjoys helping with the schnitzel. The preparation of the chicken before frying using the flour, egg and breadcrumbs follows a set order, which is good for repetition and concentration. And of course the eggy crumby fingers afterwards provide a great sensorial experience washing them at the sink. Any washing up of utensils that happens at the sink as well is good practical life experience.

The chicken salad involves washing of the rocket, celery and apples. Cutting of the walnuts, apples, celery and chicken also provide an opportunity for concentration. Please note: cutting with knives is always a supervised activity.   

The roast chicken and vegetables need oiling up and seasoning, which can also be done by a three year old. Especially a sensory seeking one! 


Note: If you can buy the organic/chemical free chicken, you will be rewarded with a better flavour, more succulent chicken. 

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