Last summer I picked up several chickens freshly "processed" from the (local) Deck Family Farm. The Decks appear to be devoted disciples of Joel Salatin (the beyond-organic farmer in "The Omnivore’s Dilemma"). I could have just picked up the chickens at the Farmers’ Market, but I was curious so I drove 25 miles to see for myself. The farm was everything they said it was, and the first chicken I roasted (at two days after slaughter) proved to be the best I have ever tasted. The down side, of course, is that it was also the most expensive chicken I have ever tasted! My gut feeling, and I plan to write a whole blog entry about this sometime, is that chickens are supposed to cost that much. Nevertheless, it’s hard on the budget, so I try to get as many meals from each chicken as I can.
On Monday of this week, I roasted the last of my Deck chickens. We had an all-local meal of roasted chicken, baked potatoes with butter & sour cream, and string beans (frozen from last summer’s CSA). After dinner, I picked off the leftover meat and made stock from the carcass.
Tuesday, I used some of the leftovers to make chicken curry. I was pleasantly surprised to see that it qualified as another local meal since I used local onions, garlic, apples and sour cream. The only non-local ingredient (besides the spices) was rice. Scott claimed the leftovers for lunch, which is his highest compliment to my cooking. :)
This evening I made one of my favorite soups, tuna cheddar chowder (don’t laugh -- it’s really good!), but substituted chicken for the tuna. I used mostly local ingredients as the recipe calls for chicken broth, carrots, onions and cheddar cheese. The Worchestershire sauce and flour were non-local. If anyone wants the recipe, drop me a comment and I'll post it. I also made biscuits, in which the only local ingredients were the butter and honey we spread on them!
So that's three meals from the chicken. I have a half gallon of broth left and more than enough meat for another meal, which I will probably make sometime soon.
The bottom line: It was all good. There’s as much difference between a happy, pastured chicken and a grocery store chicken as there is between a real and a fake tomato – darn it! Of course, I realize that the only reason I can get four meals from one chicken is that Munchkin refuses to eat anything that says, "Bock!"
What I learned: The string beans were great! I’ve never tried freezing them before, so this was a surprise. I wish I’d frozen more! Also, substituting chicken for tuna in the soup made the soup seem sweeter -- I have no idea why. I suppose it's possible that I dribbled some of the honey from my biscuit into my bowl of soup... (Friday Update: It wasn't the honey -- I had leftovers for lunch today and it was still sweet. Is chicken sweet?)
In other news: I finally ordered the video from New England Cheesemaking Supply and it arrived yesterday. I now have an idea what I might have been doing wrong, so I’m planning Cheesemaking Attempt #4 this weekend. Stay tuned...