Thursday, September 27, 2007

Two Meals from a 3 lb. Chicken with a Tragic Past

A few miles from my old house is a hamlet called Singer's Glen, where Joseph Funk assembled the Harmonia Sacra and where my friend's grandmother made two suppers from a three-pound chicken (the recipes for which are in More-with-Less). Her daughter worked for a time in a local poultry barn and contracted something called Brown Lung -- a chickenshit-and-dander version of bronchitis. The long poultry houses smell like ammonia from yards away, and the dirty gray birds are overgrown broken-legged things that we'd commonly see smashed into tractor-trailers on their way to the processing plants. Sometimes a young one would fall off the truck, and you'd see it wandering by the side of the road looking for all the world like a white grocery bag buffeted by the wind from passing cars. We'd stop and take it home and raise it for a while till it got old enough to crow and attack us, and then we'd do it in -- and stretch it into two or three meals. Poor lucky bird.

The principle: Stew the chicken the first night, with the usual onions, carrots, celery, potatoes, peas or sweet corn, reserving the broth and some of the meat for chicken soup the next night. Complete the classically Mennonite simple meal with raisin-studded refrigerator bran muffins (which reminds me: the usual recipes for refrigerator bran muffins call for boxed cereal, like raisin bran. I do not condone the existence of boxed cereal, so I'm working on a recipe that doesn't depend on something so expensive, preservative-ridden, and disgustingly sweet).

When I had raisin bran as a child, Mama picked out half the sugary raisins to use in baking.

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