Thursday, November 8, 2007

Local Meal (challenge week 4) - 4+ meals from a 5-pound chicken

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...

1 comment:

Nicole said...

Trying to explain to people about the true cost of food has always been an exercise in futility for the most part. No one understands that with things like your chicken, you're paying for sustainable and ethical practices, etc.

With clothes it's easier - you throw in a factory full of five year olds making five cents a day and it becomes instantly clear.