So, Broke-Ass put the kibosh on the rest of the Botox barter story, after her guardian angel and most excellent writer–Jeff Gordinier–gently pointed out that if she had a brain left in her head, she would write about it for a publication that would PAY her to do so. Right. This made Broke-Ass reflect fondly on the days when she actually used to be paid a living wage to write magazine and newspaper stories. She reflected while clipping dandelion leaves for dinner. Thanks for the tip, Jeff!
In the meantime, Broke-Ass has been receiving a fair amount of mail at firstname.lastname@example.org asking about cheap-ass cooking strategies and recipes. So, in lieu of writing about bartering for Botox, Broke-Ass submits for your consideration and application:
HOW TO PULL ONE CHICKEN INTO THREE DAYS
Brothers and sisters, it can be done–holding your head high and nourishing your schmushkies. This is how mama does it at Rancho del Broke-Ass.
Day One. Set the oven to 350. Put a roaster chicken in a big cast-iron dutch oven, and pour in whole milk to cover about three-quarters of the bird. (Attention fallen yuppies: You do not need a fancy Le Creuset. Broke-Ass bought a plain old, 7-quart cast-iron dutch oven for under $50, and it does the job with no complaints. Just season it every now and then, and stop feeling sorry for yourself.)
Now, dump into the dutch oven a ton of peeled garlic cloves, about a half-cup of olive oil, salt, and whatever spices you like: oregano, thyme, rosemary, tarragon, Tandoori, tumeric, curry, cinnamon. Don’t get too cerebral about it–just think about what you think it going to taste good and toss it in. Having said that, however, one killer app is to zest a few lemons, squeeze the juice in, the squeezed lemons themselves (you can fish them out later), and the zest. Particularly tasty with rosemary.
Because Broke-Ass is kind of a witch, she also tosses in all kinds of crazy dried herbs that she stores in mason jars: dandelion leaf, red clover, nettle. All these green leafies are foolishly healthy; between them, they’ve got vitamins A, C, D, and B complex as well as iron, magnesium, zinc, potassium, manganese, copper, choline, and calcium. If you’re too much of a pussy to pick and dry this stuff yourself, you can order them in bulk from the awesome Mountain Rose Herbs.
Anywho. Stick the whole damn thing in the oven (lid on) and get ready to wait about an hour and a half or so. Answer your e-mail, help the children with homework, get someone to rub your feet, give the milk a stir every now and then; flip the bird over a few times.
About an hour into it, add a healthy amount of some kind of grain that you’ve bought in bulk. (Don’t be dumb: Buy in bulk, ALWAYS.) Pearlized barley is good; wild rice; quinoa; even quick-cooking lentils. If you don’t have enough of any one item, toss whatever you have in. It’ll all work out.
By the time all the grain has cooked up, the chicken will be just falling apart–and it’s fantastically wholesome, juicy, and fall aparty. Take the pot out of the oven and pull the meat off the bones with a fork. You’re ready to serve up your delicious one pot meal! But don’t do it yet! First, put the bones into another giant pot of water, bring to a boil, and let it simmer at the lowest possible heat overnight. Babydolls, you’re making chicken broth for Day 3.
Day Two. Not even a family of five could have possibly eaten the amount of food you made last night. Which is why you saved the left overs in the cast-iron stock pot. Now, you will convert those leftovers into a butternut squash soup that’ll make you blush.
So, get two butternut squash (squashes?), cube ’em up, and then peel them–it’s easier that way, to me at least. Save the seeds, stick them on a piece of tin foil, drizzle with olive oil and salt, and toast them in a toaster oven until brown. Set aside. Now, bring about an inch of water to a boil in a saucepan, add the squash cubes, olive oil, salt–and again, with the garlic. Meanwhile, get your cast-iron on the stove, toss a little water in, and begin heating up the leftovers.
When the squash is squashy, break it all up with a spoon, and toss the entire mixture into the leftovers pot. Toss in a can of coconut milk in there, too (comes in a 6-pack at Costco). Stir. Taste. It should taste really fucking good. If it doesn’t, add stuff that you think it needs. Maybe some curry powder and cinnamon. That’s always good. Or nutmeg and tumeric? That could work. You’re the freaking cook–give it a try.
Serve with a dollop of whole yogurt (you can make this yourself, too, you know, but we’ll leave that for another time) and the roasted seeds on top. Voila et voila. Hope you remembered to put that chicken stock in the fridge!
Day Three. Start this in the morning before you go to work, or the whole apparatus will crumble before your eyes, and your children will cry that they’re starving. Dump into the stock pot about a two cups or maybe a touch more or so of some kind of BULK dried bean: Cannellini beans are my favorite, but do what you like. Pour in enough water to fill the whole pot. Cover it up on the kitchen counter.
When you and the kids get home, you will notice nature’s miracle has been at work: Beans soaking up water! Jesus Christ! Now, the chicken stock. Take all the bones and floaters out with a sieve-type spoon and toss them. Heat up the resultant broth and dump the beans in. You know the drill: Bring to a boil, then simmer. Toss in more garlic cloves and spice with rosemary. Cut up cubes from a block of parmesan (bought at Costco), and set them aside, but take that useless rind and dump it into the pot, too.
If you’re like Broke-Ass, now is the time you’ll go out to the back yard and ferret around for some green leafy thing. I’ve got kale and chard growing in my ghetto garden. I’ll bet you have dandelion greens at the very least, and if you haven’t poisoned the shit out of your lawn, clip ’em. Throw them in the pot! In about 45 minutes, the whole thing is ready to roll. Toss in your chunks of parmesan, a handful of walnuts (also from Costco), and you’re good to go.
Each meal costs under $10, and is unimpeachably nutritious and yummy. You’re welcome, sugar bunnies. Broke-Ass loves you.