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Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Post the Forty-seventh (in which our heroine vows to be more savvy with leftovers)

We don't really have a leftover culture in Ireland.  I'm not sure why this is, considering we were, as a nation, dirt poor for a long time, but it's just not something we're particularly good at. Maybe, in my family, it was to do with the fact that there was seven of us, so there didn't tend to be a whole lot left at the end of a given meal.  But since we've all moved away and there's only two of us here chez moi and three people chez maman, we don't seem to have improved a whole lot.  Oh, our intentions are good, let there be no doubt about that.  But intent seems to be all we have.  Intent, and a motley collection of mismatched tupperware in the fridge at any given time, all containing bits of food of unknown provenance and varying age.  This is particularly the case in my mother's house.  It's like she has to allow food to sojourn in the fridge for a week or two before she can throw it out guilt-free.

In my house, the food rarely makes it as far as the fridge in the first place.  It goes directly to the dogs as soon as we've finished eating.  A few weeks back, after Emmet and I had eaten the best bits off a roast chicken for dinner, I was stripping the rest of the bird and giving it to the dogs, and it was mostly gone before I realised how wasteful I was being.  Buying a whole chicken and getting one dinner for two people out of it?  Frickin' ridiculous!  So, today and tomorrow's posts will show you how to get two meals out of one chicken  Now, obviously how much meat is left on your chicken after day one will depend on how big it was in the first place, and how many people it served.  For comparison, I used a 1.4kg free-range bird, which fed Emmet and I the first night (and he wasn't sparing with his portions, as usual) and made four servings of the second-night recipe.  So, if you plan to feed four people both nights, obviously get a bigger chicken and maybe make a bit more of the veg sauce.  Or, just add a side dish or two - green beans and cauliflower cheese, maybe.

This is by far my favourite ever way of eating roast chicken.  I can quite honestly say that I will never bother "dry" roasting one again.  You will need either a cast-iron casserole or a deep metal roasting tin to do this in, as you start it on the hob and then transfer the whole lot to the oven.

Pot Roasted Chicken - serves 2

1.4kg chicken                                    2 sticks celery, diced
1 large leek, cleaned & sliced             1 large onion, diced
150g bacon lardons                            3 cloves garlic, diced
150ml white wine                               500ml chicken stock
2 potatoes, peeled & quartered          Loaf of ciabatta, sliced
Salt & pepper                                    Olive oil & a knob of butter
Sprig each of rosemary, thyme & parsley

1. Melt the butter and a splash of olive oil in your casserole or roasting tin.  Fry the chicken on all sides until evenly golden, then remove to a plate and season all over with salt & pepper.  Stuff the herb sprigs into the cavity & wash your hands.

2. Add the onion, garlic & bacon to the dish and fry briskly for 5 minutes.  Preheat your oven to 150C at this stage.  Add the leek & celery and fry for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Deglaze the dish with the white wine, making sure you stir any lovely sticky bits off the bottom of the pan.  Allow the alcohol to cook off - about five minutes.

3. Return the chicken to the dish, snuggling it down into the veg a bit.  Tuck your potato quarters in around it, then pour the chicken stock over the whole lot.  Cover with a tight-fitting lid or with a double-layer of tinfoil, pop into the oven and roast for 80 minutes.  (That's perfect for a 1.4kg bird.  Obviously increase the time for a heavier chicken.)

4. Take the dish out of the oven and put back on the hob.  Carefully remove the chicken and potatoes from the dish and leave to rest on a clean, warm plate.  (By the way, allowing it to rest upside-down will result in a lovely, juicy breast.)  Bring the veg & stock mix to a rapid boil and allow to reduce by a fifth.

5. While this is happening, toast your ciabatta slices very lightly under the grill.  You don't really want to colour them at all, just crisp them up enough so they don't fall to soggy pieces in the sauce.  Take your roasting tin/casserole off the hob, place the ciabatta slices on top and bring the whole thing to the table along with the chicken on its plate. Assign one person to carve the chicken.

6. Give everyone a warmed plate and allow them to serve themselves -  a big dollop of the veg sauce on top of the ciabatta is HEAVEN!

When you're done eating, cover the remains of the chicken with foil, allow to cool to room temperature, then stick in the fridge until tomorrow.

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