Monday, April 18, 2011

Living requires such courage at times.

I am loving two very honest and courageous books right now, both dealing with today's financial challenges:

Sarah Ban Breathnach's new book Peace and Plenty: Finding Your Path to Financial Serenity focuses on her own personal path. She relates never-before revealed details about how she fell from the financial top to the bottom and proves she understands the plight of those trying to maintain a happy and comfortable home, while at the same time not even knowing if they will be able to make the mortgage to keep that home.

Roth's Lost and Found: Unexpected Revelations About Food and Money is an absolutely riveting tale of how she lost her life savings to Bernie Madoff and the deep transformation that brought to her life.

In my own life, I remember that it was the hard times that taught me the most, and that brought out the best in me. So, I find it comforting that these talented authors are willing to share their struggles and lessons.

And, let's face it, we are all experiencing the effects of today’s economy.

So, here is my favorite solution--making at least seven (yes 7!) gourmet meals out of a single Costco rotisserie chicken.

Do you know how delicious these are? Even Julia Child had high praise for them! They are "brined" (soaked in salt water for plumpness and juiciness) and then roasted to a goodness it is almost impossible to duplicate at home. AND, they are only $4.95. So, yes, that is 7 servings for less than $.75 apiece.

Be sure to slice the chicken as soon as you get home while it is still warm. Use a serrated knife and hold it steady with a fork while you slice 4 even slices from each breast, reserving skin and bones.

See how the slices look along with all the dark meat I have pulled off by hand, and then drizzled with the drippings in the pan. Store in a plastic bag in the refrigerator.

Sometime in the next 5 days you can use these slices to make 4 delicious sandwiches. (I like using a honey raspberry mustard, mayo, sliced cheese, sliced fresh tomato and lettuce. (You can freeze these sandwiches without the lettuce and tomato if you substitute butter for mayo. They thaw very quickly and are handy for “What’s to eat around here?” moments.)

Place the skin in a soup pot along with all the bones when you are done. You will then add cold water to cover by an inch or two, an onion, a squashed clove of garlic if you like, some parsley stems and a little salt. Simmer for two hours, then let cool slightly and pour through a colander into a bowl to cool completely. Chill overnight. The fat will have congealed on the surface, so you can just spoon that off and throw it away (unless you have low cholesterol and like browning things like hash browns in chicken fat).

You will love how rich, flavorful and gelatinous this broth is from being simmered with bones.Freeze it, or use as a base for soup or sauces.

In this photo I mixed some of the thigh and leg meat pieces with a jar of Salsa Chile Verde from Trader Joe's that I stirred into a bit of butter, flour and chicken broth, seasoning to taste. This was inspired by Ted's favorite meal at the Pearl Restaurant in Napawhere we love to sit at the counter and watch the two chefs prepare all the orders. It is served with polenta. (The real one is pictured below.)

Or, sometimes I make a Chicken Salad by shredding the chicken and tossing it into a salad of torn lettuce, crumbled bleu cheese, dried cranberries and toasted almonds with a light dressing.


For 4 servings

This is so good, and ready to serve in minutes!

A drizzle of olive oil

1 small onion, chopped

1-2 cups vegetables from the fridge like 2 stalks of chopped celery, sliced baby carrots, sliced sugar snap peas, frozen peas or corn.

1 clove garlic, minced

3/4 cup white wine or dry vermouth

8 cups rich chicken broth (from method above, or use canned)

3/4 cup macaroni or other small pasta

shredded dark meat of 1 rotisserie chicken

Fresh minced herbs and salt to taste

Heat oil in a large saucepan. Stir in onion and minced vegies. Cook covered for about 5 minutes over medium heat. Stir in garlic briefly, then add wine. Cook until almost evaporated then add broth. Bring to a boil and add pasta, cooking until just tender. Stir in shredded chicken and fresh herbs and salt to taste.

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