Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Happy Accident (or the adventures of the teeny-tiny chicken), whichever suits your fancy

I'm a creative cook, but I also love the basics. One of my favorite meals is a stuffed, roasted chicken.

Several weeks ago, I purchased a teeny-tiny roaster chicken for my crockpot. I chopped two baked potatoes (peeled, of course) into the bottom of the crockpot, chopped up an onion and placed it in the chicken's cavity (after I had rinsed the whole thing), and then lovingly sprinkled some garlic powder, onion powder, and salt and pepper on top. 1/4 cup of water went in the crockpot, and then I lined the top with fresh carrots.

Typically, slow cooker recipes suggest 6-8 hours for a roast chicken. Not a problem. Anal-retentive cook that I am, At 4 hours I went in to flip the chicken, so that it would cook evenly on both sides. My first clue that something was going to go wrong was that when I flipped it, the wings came loose. Or rather, came right off. I was not using much force (it was a 4 lb chicken, after all), so I was simply pleased that it was cooking that well, and decided it would just be a rather juicy chicken.

HAH. When I went back 2 1/2 hours later, and poked the chicken, it FELL APART. Not kidding, it shredded in the pot. I'd never seen this happen, and I momentarily freaked. Then I checked the remaining contents of the pot. I removed all the chicken (an arduous process if you've ever seen one fall apart). Picked all of the bones out and threw the chicken back in, but there was a lot of liquid. Thinking fast, I glanced in the cupboard and pulled out the whole wheat couscous. Added about 1 cup (it absorbs liquid as it cooks). Yum - but no color outside of some carrots - I now had somewhat-passable chicken MUSH. I reached into the freezer and pulled out a steam-in-bag broccoli and cauliflower, microwaved it, and then added it to the MUSH. Presto change-o, the mush became stew, I had salvaged the meal, super-hero style, and NAH LOVED the CHICKEN STEW!! (I even had about 3 cups of cooked chicken left over for chicken salad, an allergic diner fav.)

It was so darn good, in fact, that I replicated it yesterday. And this time I took pictures.....and the cost?About $10. And we have leftovers for at least another night. About $10 for two nights for two people. Three servings of vegetables, 1 of whole grains, and a lean protein. No dairy, no allergic ingredients....what a happy accident!
The adventures of 1, teeny-tiny chicken...
Start with an Allergic Diner's best friend....

Take 1 teeny, tiny chicken, 3 baking potatoes (added an additional one this week), 1 cup fresh carrots, 1 cup of fresh mushrooms and 1 onion. Sprinkle with seasoning....
Give it 4 hours, then flip. At 7 hours, remove whole chicken (CAREFULLY), and shred, removing bones. Add 1 cup of whole wheat couscous to pot, stir. Return chicken to pot. Microwave bag of cauliflower. Add to pot. Stir. Allow to simmer about 15 minutes. Chicken stew!!!

The BEFORE and AFTER...and while it may not look like much, it tastes incredible!

How am I so sure that it was about $10, you'd like to know?

Easy - teeny tiny chicken ($5.17); 1 onion ($0.69); 1 cup carrots ($0.67); 1 cup mushrooms ($0.79); 1 cup whole wheat couscous ($0.89); 3 baking potatoes ($1.45); cauliflower - steam in bag variety ($1.99) = $11.65 (ok, not $10 exactly, but pretty darn close!)

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