When my brother, Walt and sister-in-law, Marge, come to visit, almost anything can happen in my kitchen. The pantry may be rearranged so it takes me six months of using up hurricane supplies to find everything again or all my cabinets are rearranged and glasses put directly above the sink even though I never use glasses and drink the water from a bottle and coffee and tea from my mug. The reason of course is that “everybody does it their way” and this would make it easier for guests. Now the only frequent visitors are my daughter’s family and their daughter (my niece) and the last time everyone came, they complained they couldn’t find anything because it had all been moved.
Oh well, none of this is important and worth worrying about so I just ignore it. Besides, sometimes I even learn something new. Like Marge does, I usually buy chicken thighs on sale and skin and bone them myself and the same with chicken breasts. Marge likes to cook and Walter prefers food cooked exactly her way with exactly the ingredients they use at home. This means at the end of a visit I end up with weird stuff I never use full of sugar and artificial flavors and colors which end up getting dumped. Every now and then a good idea sneaks up on me by surprise.
One year, after they were gone, I pulled some frosted over chicken parts out of the freezer for my next days dinner and when I started preparing my evening meal, I found a bag full of skin and bones with almost no meat. Naturally, I avoided confrontation and called my niece to find out what the heck I was looking at and it seems she knew the answer and this time it was logical. This was how her mom stored all the chicken parts from deboned chicken thighs and breasts and also the carcase from a roasted chicken after it was finished carving. She uses it as a base for chicken soup.
I liked the idea but decided to carry it to the next level. Since many recipes that call for a quarter teaspoon of a pinch of some spice are difficult to scale down, I hold the sauce constant and cut back on the meat and vegetables to four to six ounces of meat instead of a pound. Some times I will use the sauce and turn a vegan meal into a chicken meal, other times I will just save the sauce and add it to the skin and bones container and freeze it.
If the sauce is really good, it is likely to be rebuilt into a second meal. If I don’t think it was perfect, I will add it to the container of skin and bones and freeze it. The container could be quite eclectic with Pot Liquor from Collard greens and smoked turkey, sauce leftover from vegan or chicken curry, standard giblet gravy or pan drippings from a roast turkey or chicken. Everything vegan, chicken or turkey goes into the container. I don’t include any vegetables as the get mushy – just the sauce gets added to the container.
I don’t worry too much about the mixture of flavors. I also add the liquid from canned beans when the liquid is not added to the recipe. It seems that our local stores pack 5 pieces of chicken to a tray in the meat counter. Recently as I tightened up on my portion control, I add the odd pieces of chicken to the pot as I know I only need two small legs or thighs and cooking that extra piece in a pack serves no useful purpose as leftovers but does help build the pot of soup.
Pretty much the stew featured above was made from various sauces, skin and bones with one thigh and one leg. After defrosting and cooking for a couple of hours I removed the skin and bones and discarded them leaving just the thigh and leg. I added a handful of parsley and celery from my garden and a can of garbanzos with the liquid and a half cup of barley and let it cook a couple more hours. Next, I added the potato and carrot and 12 ounces of water as the barley had adsorbed all of the stock and it needed to be thinned out to cook the carrots and potato.
Sometimes, I add dumplings and leave out the potato. If I have leftover peas or corn, it gets added to the pot. Depending on my mood and what I have, I could also substitute brown rice for barley.
There can be no recipe for this chicken stew because;
Indescribably Delicious Chicken Stew is a lifestyle.