So I have a new toy – a Char-Broil Infrared Turkey Fryer. I must say I love this thing, despite the fact that it is about the size of a Shop Vac. The Char-Broil people gave it to me when I started blogging for them. There’s a recipe coming so just wait for it.
Let me digress. I have fried turkeys the old-fashioned way and it is a royal pain in the ass. Yes, the turkey tastes good, but it takes more oil than the Exxon Valdez leaked and there is the actual real possibility that you could be severely burned or even die in the attempt. After you’re done, they tell you to strain the oil and save it. I did that. It was a mistake. The old musty oil sat in my garage for about six months before I threw it out.
So last weekend, I decided to put the oil-less turkey fryer through its paces but since it’s just Mark and I a turkey would have been overkill. So I decided to buy a chicken. And since I am now committed to trying to eat sustainable, non-antibiotic meat, I went to Whole Foods. How expensive could a chicken be? I picked up a beautiful specimen, about four pounds of whole bird. I got to the check-out line. The cashier rang me up. “That will be $22,” she says sweetly. Twenty-two dollars? For a chicken? I realize it is a chicken that had daily spa treatments and a pedicure every month, but really? I am too embarrassed to return it to the refrigerated case, so I pony up.
Now here is how I rationalize a $22 chicken. I used it for four – yes, four – meals, amortizing the cost of that bird down to $5.50 a meal. Okay. I can breathe again.
So, here’s how I did it. First, of course, I used the oil-less fryer and I must say I liked it quite a bit. The chicken was not “fried” of course, but the skin turned out very crispy and tasty and the bird itself was moist. And clean up was definitely a snap. And as an added bonus I got a goodly amount of pure chicken fat in the drip pan which I will use to make a roux for gumbo. Thrifty is as thrifty does.
The first night, we just ate chicken in it’s beautiful natural state. I don’t have to tell you that once you refrigerate leftover chicken, the skin just doesn’t hold up. So any crispy skin consumption, which I totally support, has to occur just after cooking. The next day, I sliced the chicken breast thinly for sandwiches. Delish.
Then, in a total tour de force, I made a chicken and dressing casserole. Actually, that could count as an extra meal since we had a lot of leftovers. So, if I count that as an extra meal it brings the average cost down to $4.40 a meal. Ha! And then Mark ate the rest of the chicken au natural one day for lunch.
I am now feeling dandy about my $22 chicken. It led a good life, a pampered existence and then it sustained the Mayhew family for several days. Even if you don’t get a designer chicken, you will want to make this casserole. Easy, yummy and cheap.
Chicken and dressing casserole
1 package prepared dressing mix
8 ounces sliced mushrooms
1 tablespoon butter
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 cup sour cream
Juice ½ lemon
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
Salt and pepper to taste
2 cups shredded chicken
Prepare dressing mix according to package directions. Saute mushrooms in butter until well browned. In a bowl, mix together soup, sour cream, lemon juice, paprika, salt and pepper. Add mushrooms and chicken.
Put chicken mixture in a 2 quart casserole dish. Top with dressing. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.