A fruity salad for the purists and a cola braise for the naughty, both featuring chicken
I’m a devil for trying to make something out of nothing when it comes to cooking vegetables and then using them again as fillings for frittatas, pasta sauces or salads.
But for some reason, I’m always a bit lazy about making chicken stock after eating a roast chicken. So I’m trying to get into the habit – if having a roast chicken on a Sunday night – of using every scrap of the leftovers for school lunches for the following few days and then immediately (rather than plonking myself on the couch) sticking the chicken carcass into a pot, filling it up with water and letting it simmer away for a couple of hours.
This is ideally on the go by about 6pm so that I can let it cool down for a couple of hours before putting it in the fridge and saying goodnight to my apron.
An extremely quick soup can then be made the next day by sweating a couple of onions with a bag of carrots and a butternut squash, peeled and chopped, a few leeks and plenty of garlic and a good spoonful of Marigold stock powder, plus the chicken stock.
I let this simmer gently for about 30 minutes until it feels tender enough to blitz, then taste, season and cool it down to use over the next few days. It’s haphazard, but fast, and I do feel that I’ve managed to extract a bit more value from the Sunday roast dinner.
This green bean and peach salad uses a poaching method to cook the chicken. But if you had enough left over roast chicken, then you could use this too. You could also re-use the leftover poaching liquid, but it would be good to skim it occasionally and really reduce it down before using it. This idea of planning your next meal while cooking your first is an instinctual thing that comes to chefs, as it is a never-ending job: to keep feeding people. If you can think this way, it will help speed things up midweek when time really is a luxury as the nights close in.
The other dish is pure and utter white trash cooking, inspired by the South American restaurant cookbook, Ceviche. It’s a bit of fun and a twist on the usual cola and ham dish we see at Christmas. It was extremely tasty and I adore chicken thighs, as the meat is so much better than the breast. You may have to sweet talk your butcher into prepping them for you, but they are well worth it.