Sunday, February 26, 2012

The cure for dry chicken

We love "broasted" chickens from the grocery store on lazy days, but nobody eats the breast meat, which nothing, in spite of the moist cooking method (long slow rotisserie at low temperature), keeps from turning to cardboard by the time it's on the plate. I had almost completely stopped roasting whole chickens at home as well, since the breast was  a leftover that nobody ever wants to tackle. Then I got a brainstorm for salvaging the breast and any other part that isn't consumed and it's so easy and good I'll share it here.

Ingredients (vary according to your taste)
  • Leftover roasted chicken meat, breast and/or dark, including bones, wing tips, etc.
  • 48 ounce box of Swanson's (or other brand) reduced sodium chicken broth *
  • 1/2 medium yellow, white, or Spanish onion
  • 3 or 4 medium-sized carrots to taste
  • Cooked short-grain brown rice, in any amount that pleases you
  • Garlic, herbs such as parsley, thyme, marjoram, and cracked pepper, as inspired
        Brown rice: 
  •  Measure 1/2 to 1 cup of dry rice  (the more the merrier, in my opinion)
  • Add just slightly under double the amount of water (e.g., just a smidgen under 1 cup for 1/2 cup of dry rice, a little less than 2 cups for 1 cup of dry rice)
  • Add a few shakes of salt (less than 1/4 tsp altogether)
  • Bring to a boil uncovered
  • Reduce to a gentle simmer, cover 
  • Check after 25 minutes; if not all the water is absorbed, cook in additional 5 minute increments until water is absorbed and rice is tender and yummy

  • Chop onions into 1/2 inch pieces
  • Peel and chop carrots into 1/2 inch pieces
  • Remove most of the skin from the chicken (to reduce the amount of fat in the soup); you don't have to be too meticulous about this since the skin adds lots of flavor
  • Pull chicken meat from the bones, cut larger pieces into 1/2 inch dice
  • Add chicken broth
  • Optionally, add dried or fresh herbs of your choice, especially if the chicken was roasted without herbs, garlic, or other seasoning
  • Boil over low heat for 20-30 minutes; if covered, you will end up with more liquid, if uncovered, the liquid will boil off to some extent, makes no difference to the flavor 
  • Pick out and discard the bones and wing tips
  • Add cooked brown rice to taste; lots of rice means lots of soup servings     
  • Cool and refrigerate to reheat later (the flavor develops even more overnight), or serve right  away. It's especially great with rosemary crackers (try Carr's or Wasa Rosemary Flatbread, both are delicious)

Variations: The short grain brown rice holds up extremely well in soup, and adds an especially lovely texture and flavor, but surely long grain brown would be good too (and it's likely to be easier to find than short grain) but the more traditional extenders, white rice or noodles, would also be worth a try. 

*When first opened, the Swanson broth has a slightly odd smell, but it tastes great yields a first rate finished product.


  1. Sounds really yummy. As they say, "soup is good food."

    1. Great use for all the chicken leftovers (well, maybe not the head!) I think. I find both with chickens and grouse etc that stuffing and roasting in a bag helps retain moisture. But I do prefer dark meat, though those grouse legs are so tiny...