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Norfolk foodie shows you how to make a chicken feed a family for a week

PUBLISHED: 08:56 06 September 2011

Paul Campbell with the roast chicken he has cooked and is going to use to make five meals from, for EDP2 feature. Picture: Angela Sharpe.

Paul Campbell with the roast chicken he has cooked and is going to use to make five meals from, for EDP2 feature. Picture: Angela Sharpe.

Archant © 2011

STACIA BRIGGS finds out how a single chicken can feed a family for five days.

Just how far can you stretch one chicken?

If you ask Paul Campbell, who runs an online farmers’ market which delivers local food to people’s doors in Norfolk and Suffolk, one chicken can stretch an awfully long way: across five days, in fact.

Many people are no strangers to the concept of frugality and embrace the idea of spending, consuming and wasting less – and with the cost of living continuing to soar, more and more people will be joining the frugal fraternity, keen to make every penny count.

Despite the allure of supermarket bargains, a typical basket of fresh produce, including meat, bread and vegetables, now costs almost five per cent more than it did this time last year. And prices are still rising.

A family of four can now expect to see their weekly food bill of £100 increase by at least £5, meaning an extra £260 will be spent over 12 months.

“When food bills are rising all the time, you have to really look at what you eat and how you eat it,” said Paul, who lives in Long Stratton with his wife and two children.

“If you’re careful and plan what you eat and how much food you need in a week you can see instant savings and not feel as if you’re punishing yourself. We tend to waste a lot of food if we’re not careful.”

Illustrating the idea that frugality can be fun, Paul gave himself a chicken challenge: to cook one free-range chicken in such a way that it lasted for five family meals.

“We have some fantastic local chicken farmers who we trust and whose meat is superb.

“You can definitely taste the difference between a cheap supermarket chicken and a free-range chicken that’s had a happier life,” said Paul.

“It can feel like a luxury to buy free-range or organic chicken, but the trick is to make your meals work for you and plan ahead.

“One of our 2kg chickens costs around £12.40, but if you can make it last for four or five family meals, suddenly it seems like a bargain.

“Basically, our message is that if you eat meat, opt for quality rather than quantity.”

Paul Campbell runs Local Food Direct, an online farmer’s market and social enterprise. Visit Welovelocalfood.co.uk.

The recipes:

■ Day one: Roast chicken:

Simple but delicious, everyone has their favourite roast chicken recipe. One of the easiest of all involves rolling two medium-sized lemons on a chopping board to release their flavour, jabbing them all over with a skewer and then placing them inside the bird’s cavity. Drizzle rapeseed or olive oil all over the bird and roast. When you serve, bulk out the meal with plenty of seasonal vegetables, potatoes that are roasted, mashed or new and Yorkshire puddings. Everyone should be able to have a good serving, but you’re aiming for lots of leftovers.

If you’re really frugal, you can keep the pan juices to use to fry your chicken later in the week in the tortilla and noodle recipes. Decant it into a small tub and put in the refrigerator.

After dinner, it’s time to get to grips with your chicken. Cut all the remaining meat off the carcass, place in a container and put in the refrigerator for later meals. Place the chicken carcass in the pan, skin, bones and all and add a chopped carrot, a chopped leek, a chopped stick of celery, a large onion with the skin left on chopped into quarters, three cloves of unpeeled garlic, two bay leaves, a sprig of rosemary, 12 whole peppercorns and a pinch of sea salt. Cover everything in water and bring to the boil. Turn down the heat and simmer for three hours. Once the stock has cooled, you can put it in the refrigerator or freeze.

■ Day two: Chicken salad with green olives

Take a small amount of the chicken meat from the fridge and shred it into bite-size chunks. Place in a large bowl and add some shredded lettuce (romaine is perfect), some green olives, tomatoes, cucumber and whatever other salad ingredients you have to hand. Grind in some black pepper, a pinch of sea salt, a tablespoon of red wine vinegar and a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil and lightly toss to coat the salad. Serve with bread.

■ Day three: Spanish chicken tortilla

Boil one large old potato until soft, yet firm enough to slice into thin slices. Fry one medium onion, chopped, in an oven-proof frying pan with a little oil until soft and tip the onion into a heatproof dish. Then, take two slices of bacon, diced, and fry until cooked. Tip the bacon on top of the softened onion. In the same frying pan, add the slices of potato into the onion-y, bacon-y oil and cook until they start to turn golden on both sides.

In a bowl, lightly whisk four eggs together and add a grind of black pepper, a pinch of sea salt and a little fresh basil (or dried oregano) if you have it. Add the bacon and onion to the pan and spread to make an even surface before adding a handful of shredded chicken from your fridge. Pour the eggs evenly over the top and cook at a low to medium heat for around 15 minutes.

Sprinkle on a little grated cheese and place the frying pan under a hot grill for around three minutes until the frittata sets and the cheese browns. Slide the frittata out of the pan and onto a chopping board and then serve in wedges, hot or cold, with salad.

You can add all sorts of things to this dish – a can of drained, chopped tomatoes, roasted red peppers, spinach, mushrooms – whatever leftovers you think would work.

■ Day four: Chicken noodles

Make a peanut sauce to enjoy over chicken and noodles by blending one peeled garlic clove, an inch of peeled, fresh ginger, 130g smooth peanut butter, 125ml soy sauce, two tablespoons of brown sugar, one tablespoon of rice vinegar and ¾ teaspoon pepper. Blend until smooth and, with the blender running, add 125ml of recently boiled water. To serve, cook Chinese noodles and toss in the sauce with a handful of shredded chicken, half a diced cu-cumber, six sliced spring onions and a scattering of dry roast peanuts.

■ Day five: Chicken soup

Take your stock from the fridge (or defrost it from the freezer). Warm through and add a couple of chopped carrots and any other vegetables you fancy – try parsnips, leeks, onions and garlic and, if you like lentils, a handful to bulk up the soup. As it simmers and thickens up, slice some bread to serve by the side. You can either serve the soup as it is or whizz it in a blender to make a smooth soup. Insist on a round of applause at the end of Chicken Challenge Week!


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