As my witty sister would ask; what is the volume of a chicken? For this I do not have the answer, but I don't suggest Googling it either. This is not a question I would typically ask myself on a Saturday morning, but a couple of months ago I pondered it as I met the "Chicken Man."
My Grandma and Grandpa have a neighbor who raises chickens on his farm, and for the past few years Grandma has negotiated a great price for farm fresh chickens. One morning she called to ask if I would be home on Saturday morning at 10:30am because the Chicken Man would be stopping by with a dozen for me and my mom.
I waited and waited, and around 11:05am a beat up Ford Pinto parked across the street from our house, and out slowly climbed a rugged countryman and his trusty hound dog. Now you need to understand that this rugged countryman was not like the Pioneer Woman's husband Marlboro Man, no definitely not. He was like one of the characters on Duck Dynasty. As he looked around wondering if this was the place, I immediately recognized him, this was Chicken Man.
Chicken Man greeted me with a kind smile and walked to the back of his car and popped open a truck full of chilly, very freshly processed chickens. I wish I could have taken a picture, as the sight of several dozen individually bagged bright pink, headless, featherless, farm fresh chickens in the back of a broken down sedan is something that really should be seen. The good thing is that I'm fairly certain all of our nosey neighbors did. He proceeded to tell me to go ahead and pick out the ones I wanted. A chef's dream, not particularly mine. I tried to quickly conjure up my limited knowledge of poultry selection from watching Top Chef and The Food Network, and carried chickens two at a time into our house as my husband burst out in laughter.
I carefully placed 11 chickens in the freezer and left one out to cook for dinner. What I soon realized is that farm fresh chickens still come with all the innards, which my Grandma had kindly spared me of dealing with in past years by removing them from my batch. Instantly I was brought back to the sink of my childhood home, sometime in my pre-teens, when my mom made me remove the innards and prepare the chicken for supper. I specifically remember being incredibly grossed-out while listening to her tell me that I would have to know how to do this some day. With this memory front of mind, and channeling my best Julia Child, I stood at my own kitchen sink, reached in and grabbed whatever was in there, all while doing my best Julia Child impersonation, much to my husband's chagrin. "You must not be afraid of the chicken! After all the creature is already dead!"
So tonight in honor of my experience with a trunk full of chickens, and the first "Use-it-Up" recipe of 2013, we are having a an Asian inspired marinated roast chicken on carrots and sweet potatoes.
First, to recap what Use-it-Up is all about.
Basics: Use-it-Up is super simple, I will dramatically cut back on my grocery buying habits and only purchase perishables like produce, eggs, meat, and dairy from the grocery store, while trying to "use-up" the other staples and odd-ball food lurking in my overstuffed cupboards, refrigerator, and freezer.
Benefits: Savings on the grocery budget, thoughtful home cooked meals, less waste, and cupboards ready for another Trader Joe's splurge in a few short months.
Full Disclosure: I will post our grocery spending over the next two months, and promise to let you know when I cheat on the rules.
2013 Inspiration: Kathleen Flinn's "Kitchen Counter Cooking School", two fabulous Christmas gifts: a membership to Top Chef University online cooking school, and a Costco membership.
Now on to dinner. Left over from a New Year's Eve veggie and fruit tray I had carrots and orange slices. This and a lonely sweet potato and a quarter of an onion became the base for which my bird got to sit.
The marinade included the following:
2 Tab vegetable oil
2 tsp soy sauce
1Tab rice wine vinegar
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp minced garlic
The ginger and garlic were from a jar, but I'm trying to use them up and buy fresh in the future.
I stuffed the ugly bird with the other quarter of an onion and orange slices. The next part is where my Julia Child impressions come in handy.
I slowly poured the marinade over the fowl and rubbed it under the skin for flavor. "You must give the bird a good rub down to make sure all the flavor gets in it, otherwise you might as well just order out!" (In my best high pitched, slightly drunken Julia voice.)
Into a hot 425 degree oven it went for 80 minutes, until the breast meat reached 180 degrees.
One lonely sweet potato
Half of an onion
Defrosted farm fresh chicken
Yukon Gold Potatoes for mashed potato side
Pre-packaged Caesar salad mix
In the next post you will get to experience the big cupboard, refrigerator and freezer reveal. Stay tuned!