Today is a special day for some food bloggers. With a nor’easter storm bearing down on New York and New England, the food blogging community is coming together to show support for the victims of Hurricane Sandy. The images we have seen on the television and Internet are heart breaking and it is hard to imagine the challenges so many are facing.
Like many of you, I have family and friends who are still without power and facing another storm which will lengthen their suffering. They have amazing resiliency are trying to maintain positive attitudes while struggling with the basic day-to-day requirements. I wish I could be there to help them, but by sharing my post with you today, I can help everyone feel a little less alone.
In addition to sharing recipes, we are urging everyone to make a donation to those in need. Here are several of the best-known organizations that can take your donations and directly help those who need it most. It doesn’t have to be much, every little bit helps.
- American Red Cross is providing food, shelter, and other forms of support to hurricane victims. You can donate directly to the Red Cross or you can also text the word “Redcross” to 90999 to make an instant $10 donation.
- The Salvation Army is also focused on providing food, shelter, and support to victims, and takes donations for storm relief.
- Feeding America is providing food, water and supplies to those who need it as part of their disaster relief program.
Barbara of Creative Culinary and Jenn of Jenn’s Cuisine asked us to share one of our favorite dishes that would perfect to take to a friend in need; something homey, warming and comforting. We will all be linking our posts on their sites to a blog hop, to show in some small way, our support for those in need.
The first thing that came to my mind when considering comforting meals was roast chicken and homemade chicken soup. They are both things I crave when the world has thrown too much at me and I need to hunker down. If I was without power and a snowstorm was battering my city again, I would hope someone would arrive on my doorstep with a big kettle that would warm me to my toes.
Last week I made a wonderful Tuscan roast chicken, seasoned with fresh sage, rosemary and garlic and stuffed with pancetta (or bacon) and aromatics. When we were done eating the chicken, I used the carcass and pan drippings and made a pot of soup that was incredibly rich and nutritious. With one chicken and some vegetables I was able to make enough food for 8 to 10 servings. It is a wonderful way to feed your family healthy meals on a budget.
It is second nature to me to make soup from the bones of virtually any meal, but some of you have never done that. This is the perfect opportunity to share the basic technique and let you create your own versions of it. The soup can be frozen and used in other recipes that call for chicken stock or used when cooking rice or pasta. It adds nutrients and flavor that water just can’t provide.
Roasting a whole chicken may seem intimidating, (here is another recipe of mine to try) but in fact it is one of the easiest meals to make. You quickly prep and season it, and then put it in the oven and walk away. Soon the entire house is filled with the most amazing aroma that has your mouth watering and your mind imagining Sunday Suppers from long ago. Add some fresh vegetables and mashed potatoes and there are few that wouldn’t be thrilled to join you at the table.
You start by making your stock. When you have carved the meat off the chicken, take the remaining carcass, skin, extra roasted vegetables and any miscellaneous bits and pieces and place them in a large stockpot or Dutch oven. Cover it with water and set over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a low boil and let it cook until rich and flavorful. Starting with a roasted (or rotisserie) chicken intensifies the flavors, giving you the foundation for a very full-bodied stock.
You might wonder why I remove the meat and don’t just cook it along with the bones. If you do that the meat will be tough and inedible. The real flavor is in the bones. Save the meat and you can chop a small portion of it to add back to the soup when you get to that point. By the way, you can use this same technique to make soup from your Thanksgiving turkey too!
Once the stock is done I strain out the solids and throw them away. Then I can use the stock to make soup or freeze if for future meals. If you are making soup immediately, add more chopped vegetables, some herbs, salt and pepper and cook over medium heat until the vegetables are crisp-tender. The vegetables will boost the nutrients and their flavors will blend with the stock for a delicious, hearty soup.
Thank you for joining me today in our virtual pot luck. Please help us spread the message to your friends by pinning images to Pinterest, posting on Facebook and Google + and using #FBS4Sandy on your tweets.
Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone on the Eastern Seaboard. Consider yourselves hugged!!!
Jane’s Tips and Hints:
When working with a whole chicken or one that has been broken down by your butcher, you can use the backs, necks and other parts to make a delicious soup or the base for gravy. I keep a bag in my freezer with these pieces and when I have enough, I make chicken and dumplings, chicken noodle soup, or even tortilla soup. These can all be made with the same base ingredients and become unique with the seasonings and additions you use.
Roast chicken and chicken soup are naturally gluten-free when you make them from scratch. If you are thickening the broth for a stew, you can use a little cornstarch, xanthan gum, potato starch, arrowroot, or tapioca starch dissolved in water and whisked in. Bring to a boil to activate the starches and thicken the broth.
Kitchen Skill: How to Carve a Roast Chicken
As soon as the chicken is cool enough to handle without burning yourself, use a very sharp knife (I like my paring knife) and take the meat off the bones. This makes it much easier for your guests to eat and leaves you with the carcass to use for soup.
Start by removing the legs and thighs. Then take the breast and wing off the keel bone. Once the four major sections are off the carcass it is simple to break them down into smaller portions. My favorite video is from the French Culinary Institute. Another version from Gourmet is Here.
Use the same technique to break down a raw chicken. Remember that you can save a lot of money by doing this yourself instead of paying for the butcher’s time and labor. Once you get the hang of it, you will never buy chicken parts again.
Homemade Chicken Soup
© 2012 Jane Evans Bonacci, The Heritage Cook®. All rights reserved.
Yield: 6 to 8 servings
Bones from a roasted or rotisserie chicken, most of the meat removed
1 onion, peeled and chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
4 carrots, chopped
1 tsp dried thyme leaves
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 large potatoes, peeled and coarsely chopped
Place the carcass in a very large stockpot or Dutch oven. Cover with fresh water. Add the half each of the onions, celery, carrots and thyme. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce to medium-low and simmer for 30 to 45 minutes or until the broth is fully flavored.
Use a skimmer to remove bones and vegetables; discard. Add the remaining onions, celery, carrots, and thyme to the broth in the stockpot. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Bring back to a boil and cook for 15 minutes. Add in the potatoes and cook until vegetables are crisp tender, another 15 minutes or so.
Ladle into bowls and serve immediately. Store any leftovers, covered, in the refrigerator for up to three days or freeze for longer storage.
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