Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Primal on a budget: week-long chickenpalooza

Homemade (easy!) chicken stock. Liquid gold, baby.

Here's what you do, right?

You buy a chicken. A whole chicken. Preferably a pastured, organic, humanely-raised whole chicken. You season it liberally with salt and pepper, maybe a little dried thyme or something, and you stick it in the slow cooker (along with the neck and whatever nasty bits were stuffed in the cavity)(don't bother adding any liquid) on Low before you go to bed for the night.

You wake up in the morning to the smell of roast chicken, which reminds you that you need to head to the kitchen first thing and take that sucker out of the slow cooker. While the coffee brews you shred every last bit of meat off of that thing, put a little in the fridge for later, and put the rest in the freezer for way later. You dump the bones and gristly bits back in the slow cooker, pour another cup of coffee, roughly chop an onion and a couple of stalks of celery and a few carrots into quarters. Don't bother to peel anything, just dump it all in the slow cooker with the bones. Maybe you crush a clove of garlic or two and toss that in as well. Along with a handful of fresh parsley. And some whole peppercorns. And maybe a bay leaf, if you've got one. If you want to leach as many minerals as possible out of those bones, you add a tablespoon or so of vinegar. Then you add a couple of quarts of water, put the lid back on, set the cooker to Low, and go about your day.

At least six hours later (longer is better) you put a cheesecloth-lined wire mesh strainer over a big bowl and dump in the contents of the slow cooker. You're left with the richest, most amazing chicken stock ever, which you ladle into containers for the fridge and freezer. And now you can pretty much eat for a week, for maybe 20 minutes worth of actual effort and the cost of one measly chicken.


When I tell people I eat primally, the first thing they ask is how my cholesterol numbers are (I actually haven't had them checked for about a year, but I promise to get back to you). The second thing they ask is, "Isn't it expensive? And time-consuming?"

It can be, but it doesn't HAVE to be. I mean sure, if I was eating grass-fed ribeyes three times a day and making complicated vegetable preparations to go with each one, I'd be out of time/patience AND money pretty quickly. But I'm telling you, buy ONE really good chicken per week, and do that up there, and you've got at least one meal per day for one person for an entire week sorted.

Use the broth as a base for all sorts of soups (primal ramen, maybe?) and sauces, drink a hot mug of it for breakfast, stir in a little sriracha if you've got a cold.

Put the shredded chicken in soups, lettuce wraps/tacos, salads, omelettes, or just snack on it right from the fridge when you need a quick hit of protein.

You can be lazy and cheap frugal and still be primal, y'all. I'm living proof!

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