This frigid, single digit temperature, multiple feet of snow thing has us CuTters running for our kitchens to stuff our faces with comfort food — and since we’re all still dirt poor, we have to do it on a budget. But since we’re also generous cheapskates, we’ll share our know-how with you.
Asian Persuasion: Roast Chicken and Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup
I love roast chicken for dinner because it’s comforting and cheap as all get out — and it’ll serve you for many meals to come. I try to get my bird on sale — usually for about $6 — but even at “full price” it’s still a cheap way to get a lot of food.
Wash and pat dry the bird — and remove that bag of innards. (Boil and feed them to a pet for dinner and you can save on its meal as well.) In a bowl mix some chopped onion, garlic, salt, black pepper, parsley and a very little bit of thyme (which you can omit completely if you want). Lift up the bird’s skin around the boob area and shove the herb mixture under the skin. Shove a little more in the cavity — no TSA scans here. Shake some kosher salt on the skin and place the bird in a pan, uncovered, in the fridge for about four hours. This dries the skin out just a little bit so it comes out nice and crispy without adding oil or butter.
Once you take it out, you can truss it if you have string and are not a klutz like me. I use Alton Brown’s turkey triangle which basically means you make a foil triangle and cover the breast area. I also cover the wings with some foil so they don’t burn to a crisp. Cook the bird at 375 degrees for about 40-60 minutes (depending on the size), take the foil off and let it go for 20-30 minutes until the juices are clear and nothing is raw.
With your leftover bird, make some chicken noodle soup which is cheap and yummy. Remove as much of the skin as you can, place it in a big pot, fill with water until the chicken is covered 2-3 inches and add about 1/2 cup of chopped onion, 1 tbsp of black pepper, 2-4 bullion cubes and let it simmer for a couple of hours. Remove the chicken and let it cool before taking it apart. (Prepare to get down and dirty when doing this–it’s just plain nasty). Chop up 3 carrots, 2-3 stalks of celery, and some more onion. You can also add a package of white mushrooms or any other veggies, if you want. Take apart the chicken — I like mostly white meat and the dog gets the dark meat, but whatever tickles your fancy. If you want to add rice, add about one cup and cook for five minutes before adding the veggies and chicken. Boil the veggies and chicken in the broth for 10 minutes, then add a bag of egg noodles and boil for 7-8 minutes.
At any point, be sure to taste your broth. Add more pepper, bullion or salt according to your taste. Once it’s ready, eat for about five days, while cuddled under a cozy blanket.
Anti-Couric: Beaver Club Banana Bread
I was going to write about a new winter vegetable chowder I tried out last week. But it seems the Asian has all the soup bases covered, so I thought I’d cover desserts. Back when I worked in New York, my boss’ wife would send in delicious treats on occasion — like prune and Armagnac cake, which I’ve never had the courage to make but is truly heavenly — and one of my favorites was banana bread that tastes more like chocolate than bananas. I love to bake when it’s cold outside — helps warm the house — and the recipe makes two loaves (which seem to stay fresh for ever, and freeze well, but you can give one away if you’re feeling generous). If you’ve recently bought more bananas than you can eat, this is a good way to get rid of them without letting them go to waste.
3-4 ripe bananas
3 3/4 cups flour
2 cups & 3 tsps sugar
1/2 cup oil
1 cup buttermilk (I’ve been known to use milk & vinegar when I’m too lazy or cheap to buy the buttermilk)
7 tsps baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 loaf pans
Preheat the over to 275 degrees and place the rack in the middle.
Start by combining the bananas, sugar, baking soda, and salt in a bowl and mixing thoroughly. Then add eggs one at a time and mix at medium speed. Sift in the flour, about a 1/2 cup at a time (otherwise you’ll find yourself with a royal mess on your hands). Add buttermilk and oil, blending until smooth. Now you’re ready to bake…for 2.5 hours. Your bread should come out dark and downright chocolaty thanks to the long, slow cook-time. And you’ll have enough dessert to go with the Asian-Persuasion’s chicken and days of soup.