One chicken. Two people. Three gourmet meals. - Page 2

FEAST: Cheap, easy recipes from star chefs
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Alice Waters, Gary Danko, and Traci Des Jardins
Waters photo by David Liittschwager

Strain the stock.

(Although most people discard the remainders, Gary Danko remembers that his grandfather "loved to eat the remainders of the stock pot. Being an old Hungarian, he called it 'a Hungarian picnic.'")

Chicken Vegetable Soup

6 cups chicken stock

1 cup each diced onion, carrot, and celery

2 cups cabbage, roughly chopped

2 cups potato, cubed

2 cups cooked rice or beans

chicken from carcass, shredded and seasoned to taste

1/2 cup pork product, cubed*

Curry, saffron, bay, pimento, or a pinch of Esplette pepper

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Juice of one lemon (add at the very end)

(Use either the chicken pieces that have been picked from the bone, or use a bit of bacon or other cured pork product. Render it or not — your choice, but include it nonetheless. The flavor will keep you coming back for more, and the fat — yes, there will be fat — helps our bodies realize we are really having a great meal.)

Sauté the onion, carrot, and celery in oil for five minutes, or until soft.

Then add spice seasonings and the pork product if you are including pork. Stir and cook for five minutes, then add in the stock and bring to simmer. Let it simmer slowly for 15 minutes, then add the rice, potato, or beans (or all three) and let simmer another 15 minutes. Season to taste. Makes about 6 quarts. Freeze all but two, no matter what the yield. Finally, when you heat up a meal's worth of soup, add a raw egg to the pot. Turn the heat down very low and cover. In three minutes, dish it up. Add a dash of sriracha sauce and a teaspoon of good extra-virgin olive oil. Serve with a slice of good bread on the side.

CLARIFIED BUTTER, CLARIFIED

Clarifying butter removes the milk solids and water from the part of the butter you want for sautéing — the translucent, bright yellow butterfat that can be brought to high temperatures without burning. (The smoking point of clarified butter — also known as ghee, the beloved cooking fat of India — is 485 degrees. By contrast, whole butter smokes at 350 degrees and virgin olive oil smokes at 375 degrees.)

For the Chicken Breasts Escoffier, you'll need two sticks of unsalted butter to begin with. Cut the butter into one-inch cubes, and heat it in a heavy-bottomed pot over a low flame. As the butter melts, it will separate into three layers — a thin foamy top layer, a middle layer of clarified butterfat, and a bottom layer of white milk fat. Skim off and discard the foam, and ladle the bright yellow butterfat into a heat-proof container. Discard the milk fat. You may need to continue skimming bits of foam off the top until your mixture is pure. You will keep around 80 percent of the butter you started with.

TIPS FOR LOW-COST COOKING FROM GARY DANKO
Meal planning is a great way to cut your grocery bill. If you go to the store less frequently, there's less impulse buying. It also keeps you from running to the store next door, where you'll pay more for your food.
The cost of meat has been going up. The best way to cut back on the amount of meat you use is by substituting a healthy filler, like tofu, in your meatloaf recipe. Try to stretch a pound of meat into two recipes instead of one or substitute meat with less expensive ingredients like beans.
Risotto is a great, inexpensive way of getting a lot of bang for your buck and it can be used as a base for endless flavor profiles using leftovers.
Take a doggie bag if you have steak or chicken leftover from your restaurant visit. Just last night I had some steak and a double cut pork chop left over from a restaurant dinner.

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