It is amazing what a wonderful series of meals you can have from one simple chicken. The bird in question was a 5lb pastured chicken from Speckled Hen Farm, via North Market Poultry and Game. Unfortunately my enthusiastic carver set to work before I remembered to take a photo, but it was a fine looking bird. On the first day we roasted the chicken, invited friends for dinner and served it with roasted parsnips and carrots, duchess potatoes and roast onion gravy. The parsnips came out perfectly, thanks to Jamie Oliver’s advice to parboil them first and finish them with a touch of honey.
The gravy was based on Nigel Slater’s recipe for Chicken with roast onion and thyme gravy in which you roast the chicken on a bed of sliced onions, garlic bay and thyme. This recipe is from his book ‘Nigel Slater’s Real Food‘, a book I have had since 1998 but have only been recently reacquainted with – my parents kindly brought it with them on their recent visit. I enjoy Nigel Slater’s style of writing and cooking and have found his recipes extremely reliable. Real Food also gave me the idea for day number two of the roast chicken: creamy roast chicken risotto.
I had already made chicken stock using one of Michael Ruhlman’s methods in Ratio. It was the first time I have made stock in the oven and I am converted. Probably the best chicken stock I have ever made and this definitely contributed to the success of the risotto. Nigel’s risotto recipe called for creme fraiche but I substituted some Snowville heavy cream and a little lemon juice and white wine for a touch of acidity. I have a bag of Snowville cream cubes in the freezer and they are really useful when you need a small quantity of cream for a recipe.
Nigel Slater’s risotto recipe claims to feed two ‘generously’ but luckily for us there was plenty left over. Roast chicken day number 3 was another Nigel Slater recipe, this time from his Kitchen Diaries, for Taleggio and Parsley Cakes. If you don’t have the book you can find a large extract with his countdown to Christmas on the Guardian website, which includes the recipe below:
Nigel Slater’s Taleggio and parsley cakes
leftover risotto 3/4 lb+
parsley – a small bunch, roughly chopped
grated Parmesan – 2 heaped tablespoons
Taleggio, fontina or another cheese that melts easily- 4 oz
a little butter and olive oil for frying
Stir the parsley and the grated Parmesan into the cold risotto. Add some freshly ground black pepper.
Cut the cheese into cubes, discarding any rind. For each ball take a small handful of the rice and press a cube of cheese into it, then press more risotto on top to cover the cheese, squeezing the rice into a rough ball as you go. You will probably make four or five decent-sized balls.
Warm a little butter and olive oil in a skillet. Flatten the rice balls a little and lay them in the hot fat. Let them brown on one side, then turn and lightly brown the other. Press the rice down with a spatula so you end up with a thick patty. They are ready when a golden crust has formed on both sides and the melting cheese is trying to escape. Best served on warm plates.
I have eaten arancini in restaurants but at home I usually eat leftover risotto reheated in the microwave. This was so much better, in the way that only something that combines a buttery fried crust and melted cheese can be. They made a very tasty lunch.
So there you have it, one chicken, three very satisfying meals and three pints of chicken stock left in the freezer. I’m tempted to make more risotto – just for the leftovers.