This post refers to Save With Jamie, which is a book I was sent free of charge. I was not asked to write any content about the book, and Jamie Oliver is unaware that I’m doing so. And believe me, JO always likes to keep up with the latest Rock Salt posts.
I roasted a whole chicken last Monday. I love roasting a whole bird – the smell of it filling the house, the awesome gravy you can make from the pan, the choice of any kind of meat, the indefinable but irrepressible sense of accomplishment… But, when you’re often only cooking for one, it can be a bit of a food waste minefield.
I turned to Jamie Oliver’s cookbook Save With Jamie to see what I could do with the leftovers that wasn’t just ‘reheat them in the microwave and eat chicken and potatoes every night for a week’. There were lots of options – there’s a whole section on chicken alone – that made me excited about making dinner with leftovers. This is no mean feat for a leftovers shirker like myself; I hate to waste food, but I get bored by the same dinner two nights in a row. Let’s just say my freezer is always full of mystery tupperwares – I knew what was in them when I put them in, but the information is shrouded in the mists of time.
The recipes I decided to make was his chicken chowder, though I changed it to suit the ingredients that I had to hand – I threw in some frozen peas and some tenderstem broccoli. The cooking time was sped up by using cooked potatoes instead of raw, and I made some substitutions. This is partly because the recipe called for bacon, and when I defrosted what I thought was a stack of rashers, it turned out to be a pork chop. See above note on mystery tupperwares. A wee sneak preview of the end result:
Fair warning – this soup ends up looking a lot more attractive than it starts out. In fact, it starts out pretty ugly.
I began with a tablespoon of oil, a couple of shallots, and some cooked new potatoes.
When the shallots are softened, and the potatoes crushed into a starchy mess, add some chicken stock – ideally, freshly made from the carcass of the chicken you roasted earlier in the week. When I made my stock, I used the water the potatoes had boiled in, and poured in the veg that had been sitting under the bird as well as the pan juices. Might as well pack in as much flavour as you can, right? A stock cube would also be fine, and is my usual recourse, but I figured that if I was roasting a whole chook I may as well go the whole hog. Or chicken.
After about fifteen minutes, the potatoes had absorbed a lot of the stock, and thickened it considerably. I then pureed it into a really thick paste, which looked only marginally more appetising than the brown soup it had been before.
I put in frozen peas, frozen sweetcorn, chopped tenderstem broccoli, and plenty of shredded chicken – this is ideal for using up wing meat and other scraps.
I addressed the consistency of the soup by adding both single cream and more stock, until it was the texture and taste I wanted. Too much cream would be too rich; you could probably go with stock only, though I like the extra luxury the cream adds.
I left the soup to simmer for about twenty minutes – the broccoli took an age to cook, another time I would steam it separately and add it in to the soup fully cooked.
Before making the soup, I made oyster crackers to serve with it. Oyster crackers are a thing I’ve never seen here in the UK. I experienced them on holiday in Maine, after eagerly ordering a bowl of clam chowder. They’re just simple little savoury biscuits, and it turns out you can make them at home with very few ingredients, most of them are in the store cupboard already. They are easy to make, and you can choose your own shape, which was another reason for me to use my little icing cutter tools. I love those guys.
I used a recipe from Serious Eats, and made three different shapes for my own amusement. The method is similar to making scones, and not only is it easy to put together, it’s quick, too. You should let them rest in the oven for about twenty minutes after baking, though, so it’s best to make them before you start the soup.
Once the crackers were baked, and the soup was ready, I put the lot together, and added some pea shoots in lieu of any fresh herbs. They were excellent, crunchy and fresh.
Usually I’d be insistent on some bread to go with this kind of dinner, but the crackers took care of the carb side of things. If you make them, you might want to have a wee bowl of extras on hand to drop on top of your soup as you go along.
All in all, this was a massive success, and I also managed to make enough for only two portions, so that I wasn’t then stuck having the soup every night for a week instead of plain chicken. Doing that would have made the whole thing a pointless exercise, really.