GREAT COMFORT FOOD FOR BUSY COOKS

The weather is starting to get cold. I don’t know about you, but when that happens, I jump right into the comfort foods. A big time-saver during the “comfort food” season is slow roasting a large batch of meat and using it over multiple days for a variety of dishes. I might roast a few chickens, or perhaps a turkey. Large hunks of meat like chuck roast and pork shoulder are also great candidates.

Gateway’s rotisserie chickens

If you’re busy, you don’t have to do all the cooking. I often pick up a rotisserie chicken or two from Gateway Market to get a head start. If you’ve never had one of these things, you should – these aren’t your everyday rotisserie chickens! Gateway’s are carefully brined and seasoned, which means the flavors seep all the way to the bone while tenderizing the fall-apart, juicy meat.

Rotisserie chickens packed up and ready to take home.

Of course, if you want to make your own, it’s easy to do. Yes, it takes a little time but not a lot of hands-on attention, as you’ll see.

George’s Outstanding Roasted Chicken

The ingredients are pretty simple – just meat and basic seasonings. However, the quality of the ingredients is hugely important, and in this dish, that means the chicken. You’ll need the following:

  • Two Gateway market all-natural Amish chickens
  • Salt, pepper and garlic powder

Liberally coat the chickens with seasoning. Cover all sides and the inside of the bird, and don’t skimp!

Place the seasoned birds in large, tightly sealed plastic bags or in a covered container. Place them in the fridge and let them sit for 24 hours.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place chickens on roasting rack and roast 50 to 60 minutes or until chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees (if you don’t already have a meat thermometer – get one!). This will be good practice for your holiday cooking marathon.

Make sure the chicken’s still warm, otherwise this gets a lot more difficult.

Once it has cooled (but is still warm to the touch), pull the meat from the bones. Divide the meat up into meal-sized portions and toss it into baggies along with a little bit of its juices and fat. Save the leftover bones for your chicken stock.

So, now you’ve got all this roasted chicken begging to be used in a variety of dishes. Here are some examples of how I use the same chicken over the course of three days.

DAY 1: Here’s something I like to do that works with most roasted meats but is especially good with pulled chicken. Toss a portion of the meat with chipotle powder, garlic, Mexican oregano, a few tablespoons of salsa and a little lime juice. For the salsa, my favorite is the Frontera brand salsa, available at Gateway. Try the chipotle salsa; I like it a lot.

After mixing all that, heat a few corn or flour tortillas and pile on the meat. Be sure to have some chopped onions, sliced radish, lime wedges and additional salsa on hand. Serve this with rice and beans.

DAY 2: OK, so you have some more chicken to deal with – let’s make some chicken and noodles.

All the ingredients you need – straight from Gateway!

To make the broth, you’ll need:

  • 1 quart chicken or veggie stock
  • 2 peeled and sliced carrots
  •  1 small onion diced
  • 3 stalks celery diced
  • Pinch of thyme
  • Big pinch of black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon chopped garlic

Put all ingredients in a stock pot and bring to a boil. Then turn to low heat and simmer.

Add your favorite noodles. Want to make your own? Here’s a quick and simple recipe:

Simple noodle recipe

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 egg
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 tablespoon milk

Mix all ingredients together. Want more noodles? No problem, this doubles and triples easily.

Homemade noodles

Let mixture rest for 20 minutes. Roll out using a wooden rolling pin and plenty of flour, or use a pasta machine. Use a pizza cutter to cut irregular shaped noodles.

Add the noodles to the boiling broth. (You can take this opportunity to throw in the chicken; if you’ve got some vegetarians in the house, you can simply add the chicken to individual bowls at the end of the line.)

Finished product – the perfect dish to prep for winter!

Cook the mixture until the noodles are done and serve. If you like that thicker, more stew-like consistency served over mashed potatoes (definitely a Midwestern comfort thing), then start a little starch on starch action. If noodles ate not starchy enough to make it happen, just thicken the mixture with corn starch and water slurry (4  parts water to 2 ½ parts corn starch).

Day 3: If you still have some chicken left, here’s something that I really like. Mix a desired amount of chicken with your favorite BBQ sauce. At Gateway, we have some truly wonderful and hard-to-find barbecue sauces. Heat the chicken in the sauce, serve on toasted South Union ciabatta bun with pepper cheese, bacon and sliced red onions. Serve with potato salad, chips and baked beans.

There you have it – one bulk ingredient in three easy dishes over three days.

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