Thursday, April 9, 2009

A few homemade, from scratch items

Where does the time go? I told myself that I would post more than just once this week and I can't believe a week has already passed by! This week has been pretty crazy with work, I had a big deadline and and short week - because I'm taking tomorrow off!! oh, yeah!

Anywho...I didn't just do work business, but home business, too. Our outside fridge's freezer is now home to jars of black beans, kidney beans, and chicken broth. In an effort to reduce our grocery bill, I've made a commitment to make more of our food from scratch. To accomplish this I bought dry beans from the bulk bins and ordered a whole free range chicken from Burgundy Pasture Beef - this isn't it, just all that I'm focusing on today.

Dry Beans

I'll be honest the dry beans take planning, something at which I do not excel. I tried the 'quick-soak' method on the black beans, because I wanted them for dinner. I was making chicken enchiladas and wanted them as a side. With the quick-soak method you bring the beans to a boil in a big pot, boil for a couple minutes, and then you let them soak for an hour. I'm not really sure what I did wrong, but they didn't work out so hot. Even though I soaked them for the right amount of time, it took them forever to cook. The other method is long-soak. You put the beans in a pot, cover with water and let 'em sit for at least 8 hours. Don't put them in the fridge, though, I discovered that slows down the process during another batch.
The kidney beans went easy-peasy. Funny enough, they were my first attempt. I did the long-soak method, put them on before I left for work so they would be ready to cook when I got home that night. After soaking, drain them and put them back in the pot with more water. Bring the beans to a boil and then simmer until they are tender. Since I was cooking these to be used in various recipes, I didn't season them, but you could if you wanted.

After I cooked the beans I put them into quart-size mason jars. As long as you don't fill them past the line there will be enough expansion room. Now, I've got BPA-free beans at the ready and the actual labor involved was minimal.

Whole Free-Range Chicken

I've cooked whole chickens before, usually to lackluster results. I mean they were ok, but you know, just ok. I didn't actually use a recipe this time, so I'll just tell you what I used. I had a bit of a surprise with the free-range bird. There wasn't a plastic bag full of neck and gizzards. The gizzards weren't included and the neck was still attached. So, my first act of business was to remove that. I just snipped it a bit with the scissors, cracked the neck and pulled it off. I froze it to put in the garbage on trash day, but I'm sure you can actually use it for something.

This recipe is really just about what you have on hand. I used the herbs I did because that's what was growing in the garden.
Preheat oven to 350. Mix together salt, pepper, rosemary, and thyme in a bowl. Pour olive oil over the chicken and rub it all over. Rub the salt mixture all over the chicken, be sure to get that yummy-ness under the skin. I also put some of the leftover seasoning into the cavity along with some fennel from the garden.

Bake in the oven until the meat's internal temperature is 180, it took about 40 mins for my bird and it was over 4lbs. This was the best chicken I've had. I'm sure the free-range aspect had something to do with it, but I like to think that I did, too. Dinner is served!

The carcass? well...that's another post for another day.

1 comment:

-Your Friendly Neighborhood Dentonista said...

You can so use that neck (and carcass) for easy, natural chicken broth. I make my own pretty frequently.