How To Turn Leftover Chicken Into A Tasty Soup

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One benefit of making a complicated, classic dish like bouillabaisse, as I did last week, is that the process of making it becomes its own version of cooking school. You follow the steps but as you do so, you learn things. For example: making a fumet (or fish stock) may be labor-intensive but your efforts pay off later when that highly flavored broth is poured in with the tomatoes and onions and fish and takes your bouillabaisse over the moon. Why couldn’t I apply a similar strategy with leftover chicken and leftover chicken carcasses? Last week, that’s precisely what I did.

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Three Chicken Dinners: Meyer Lemon Stuffed Chicken Breast, Italian Sweet & Sour Chicken & Chicken with Lentils and Marsala Gravy

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If you cook the same thing over and over and over again, eventually you get really good at it.

That’s what happened with me and chicken: I’m really good at cooking it. And though there are many who find chicken boring, that’s usually because chicken, when stripped of its skin and bones, is, indeed, very boring. So the first rule is: never cook chicken without the skin or bones. The second rule is: be generous with salt. I’ve quoted this often, because I never forgot it; when Mario Batali had his old Food Network show he showered a raw chicken with salt and said: “No one ever says ‘this chicken’s too salty.'” He’s right–and that salt makes a huge difference.

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How To Fry Chicken For A Crowd

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When scheming of ways to dazzle your guests at a dinner party, fried chicken is often tossed aside as too difficult to pull off. And for good reason: if you fry chicken the traditional way, where you start it and finish it in a thick layer of hot oil, you can only fry a few pieces at a time and there’s a no way you can time it so that all of your guests get hot chicken at the same time. So you stick to more traditional dinner party fare–roast beef, leg of lamb–things you can throw in the oven and carve easily for your guests. But what if you COULD make fried chicken for a dinner party and have all the pieces–20 pieces in all–finish at the same time? Prepare yourself, then, gentle reader. I’m about to rock your world.

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One Chicken, Two Dinners (Roast Chicken with Parsnips & Potatoes / A Chicken Burrito) + Stock

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When I was writing my first book, I had a chapter called “Stretch a Chicken” in which I was going to try to stretch one chicken over as many meals as I could. That chapter never materialized but last week I found myself stretching a chicken without really thinking about it. I made two dinners and froze the carcass for chicken stock. Both dinners were excellent and, because I used the same chicken, relatively cheap. Here’s what I did.

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Spatchcocked Chicken

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Have you spatchcocked your chicken lately?

For a long time, I’ve roasted my chickens the traditional way–sometimes trussing, sometimes not; sometimes stuffing with Meyer lemons, sometimes sprinkling with fennel seeds & cayenne pepper–but almost always keeping it whole. Then I read J. Kenji Lopez-Alt’s article on Serious Eats: “How (Not) To Roast a Chicken.” In his amusing and scientific way, Kenji explains why roasting chicken the traditional way (the way I normally roast) leaves you with a dry breast and undercooked thighs. If you want the chicken to cook evenly, you’ve gotta spatchcock.

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Meyer Lemon Chicken & Asparagus

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There are two dishes referenced in Kim Severson’s “Spoon Fed” that don’t have corresponding recipes: the first is a chicken stuffed with Meyer lemons, the other is something called a “Jewish muffin.” I haven’t had any luck parsing the mysteries of the Jewish muffin, but after an exchange on Twitter I was able to extract from Kim a Tweetcipe for the chicken: “Meyer lemons, cut in half, shoved inside a well-seasoned chicken along with some fresh parsley and maybe thyme.”

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Thomas Keller’s Roast Chicken with Root Vegetables

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Roasting a chicken is a very personal thing; those of us who are regular chicken roasters (and, in the winter, roasting a chicken is almost a weekly act for me) know what we like. For me, that’s a combination of fennel seeds, cayenne pepper, and kosher salt on the outside of the skin and thyme stuffed inside (see here). That recipe comes from the Chez Panisse cookbook and no matter how many other roast chicken recipes I try–the River Cottage one, for example–no chicken has been able to unseat the Chez Panisse chicken. That is, until last week.

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