One chicken, three meals speaks to many parts of my life. At Casa Mia, we are many things: waste warriors, creators of comforting and nutritious meals, experts at repurposing leftovers and scraps. It comes naturally to me. In my childhood home, we ate leftovers. Nothing went to waste. Hence one chicken, three meals.
A central ingredient becomes multiple meals. Lentils are transformed into soup, pasta and lentils and mixed with salad or rice or couscous because why not? Wilted salad leaves are given a second life, in soups and sautéed as side. Artichokes are braised, stuffed, tossed with pasta, and become tea. Roast squash is a side that becomes fetter for risotto. I took this habit of “no waste” with me when I moved to NYC, then onto London and now to Rome. My interest in no waste grows.
The word sustainability pops up more and more in daily lexicon. In food, travel, farming, industry… We can each make a contribution to the sustainability movement no matter how small. This article has been in the works for some time thanks to a roast chicken and Francesco’s perplexed face as I deconstructed it and transformed it into deliciousness.
I buy a whole chicken usually with a few pin feathers hanging on. Thinking back, I’m reminded of my grandparents going to the chicken house near Boston to choose their bird that became luxurious meals. One chicken, three meals in our Roman home, or more.
Meal 1: Buttery, roast chicken with onions, potatoes and gravy
The first call of duty; simple roast chicken, seasoned with salt and pepper, stuffed with lemon halves, whole garlic cloves and whichever herbs are growing on our balcony. Brush with some melted butter and cook until juices run clear. I sometimes add potatoes and onions to the pan.
Meal 2: Left over chicken meat becomes chicken pot pie, or chicken salad, or chicken with peppers
Take 2, a version of Mom’s chicken pot pie. Remove remaining chicken from the carcass. Make the crust with some flour, salt, butter, and ice water. Melt some butter or heat some oil, add carrots, peas and onions and cook. Add some flour and water or broth. Simmer until thickened. Stir in the chicken. Pour into baking dish. Roll dough out and place over filling. Slit the dough. Cook until bubbly and golden brown. I love making these in individual ramekins.
Meal 3: The carcass becomes flavor-packed broth for tortellini or risotto
The grand finale… nourishing collagen-rich broth. Place chicken carcass in a large, deep bottomed pan. Chuck in a few things like carrots, onions, celery, garlic, a few cloves, peppercorns, salt, bay leaves, potatoes, herbs… add cold water, bring to a gentle simmer and let it do its thing. Pass through a fine sieve and use within 4 days or freeze. We make tortellini in brodo (tortellini in broth) for the ultimate Italian comfort food.
I hope all of this chicken talk has you hungry. Join me to make chicken with peppers aka pollo con i peperoni aka pollo alla romana on Friday, June 11. We will cook this comforting dish together and talk about ways to transform chicken into many Italian dishes. What are you waiting for? Sign up!