Sunday, March 19, 2006

Recipe: Roast Chicken Leftovers

So, remember that chicken we roasted a while back? The question is, what do you do with the leftovers? Sure, you can just warm everything up again in the oven, heat the leftover gravy on the stove and repeat the original. Or you can heat up the gravy, toss in the cut up meat and serve it over toast. Or you can take it one step (or three) beyond . . .

here’s what you’ll need . . .

leftover roast chicken parts
leftover gravy (or, in a pinch, you can make fresh)
wide egg noodles
peas (fresh, canned, frozen . . .)
thyme (dried or fresh)
olive oil
sesame oil
coarse (Kosher) salt
ground cayenne pepper

Here’s how you do it.

Carefully peel all the skin from your leftover chicken parts and cut it up into little ¼” squares. Put a small skillet over very low heat, and just coat the bottom with a drop or three of olive oil. As soon as the oil “comes to fragrance” (a state which I’m sure you’ll remember from an earlier sermon - with apologies to David Steinberg), toss in the skin bits, reduce the heat to barely there. Let the skin bits slowly render all their fat for about 30 –45 minutes, until they are nice and crispy.

About 15 minutes into the rendering time, add a sprinkle of coarse salt, and a dash of ground cayenne pepper to the skin. Swirl, toss and otherwise mix it all up. Not exactly ‘cracklins’ but a tasty sprinkle for the finished dish.

Frizzling Skin

After you get the skin going, get out a couple of saucepans - gravy in one, water in the other. Heat the gravy slowly and crank the water to a boil for the noodles. (And if you scooped all the mushrooms out of your gravy during your original roast chicken dinner, well, for heavens sake, slice up another dozen and toss them into the gravy to cook!)

While the heat does its thing, get all the remaining chicken meat off the bones and cut it up into bite size pieces.


When the water boils, toss in your noodles (all right, you can add a pinch of salt to the water if you must), and cook them just barely al dente. Usually, we cook these wide egg noodles for about 5 minutes, but for this meal, three minutes works out just right. The noodles are going to continue to tenderize over a warm burner while you get the rest of the meal together, and then cook for another minute or so at the very end. So, barely al dente to start . . .

When they’re done, drain the noodles, and toss them with a goodly squirt of sesame oil and a squeeze of SriRacha. I usually do the oil first and when the noodles are well coated, then add about an inch long ribbon of SriRacha and stir again. That way, the spicy flavor ‘rides’ the oil rather than forming little hot spots in the pasta. Finally, toss the peas on top, sprinkle with a pinch of thyme and a few goodly grinds of Tellicherry.

Noodles etc.

Now cover that pan and put it back on the still-warm burner (electric stove). If you’re working with a gas stove (or your electric cools off too quickly), you could save a little pasta water and toss it back in, or add a little water from the can of peas. Then you can leave the burner on barely there heat until it’s time to put everything together.

Next, twiddle your thumbs (or make a salad or set the table or brew the coffee or . . .) until the chicken skin crispies are done. When they’ve reached perfection, scoop them out of the skillet and onto some paper towel to drain.

Chicken Skin Crispies

Then, toss your cut up chicken meat into the skillet and heat it up for 5 minutes or so. You can put some heat under it, but you don’t really want it to cook or brown very much – that will just make it tougher.

Sizzle the Chicken

Finally, put it all together. Put the noodle pan over the still going skillet burner, dump the chicken on top of the peas, and pour some gravy over all (wet but not swimming). Using your gentlest ‘folding-in’ action combine everything. Add some more gravy (sloppy but not swimming), and stir some more.

Mix it all around

Put the cover back on the pan, turn the burner off, and finish whatever else you need to do before eating. When it’s time, divide your creation onto plates, add as much more gravy as you like,

More Gravy!

and chow down!

Dine . . .

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