I start cooking by asking, “What do I need to use up?” A few nights ago, the answer was “A lonely potato and the remainder of a head of lettuce.”
Aldi’s, the budget grocery store, offers thigh-drumstick chicken pieces individually frozen in a large bag. Can’t beat the price, so I always have some in the freezer. I pulled one out and dropped it in a pot upside down, over low heat, to thaw the skin enough so I could pull it off.
I cut up a potato and half of a carrot (also on the use-up list), and several cloves of garlic. I thought about chopping up an onion; I made chicken soup on the weekend at Grandma’s and cooking an onion gives a great onion flavor to the broth. But since I had done that recently I didn’t want to do it again. This time, after removing the skin from the chicken, I added chicken broth, the potato, the carrot, the garlic, and some sliced mushrooms. I ground in some black pepper and possibly added a dash of red pepper. I thought about basil or oregano and I decided to use just parsley flakes. Then I just let that simmer for a while.
When the potatoes were soft and the chicken was cooked I pulled the meat off the bone using two forks, then let that sit a while longer while I made a salad. I tore the lettuce, just because I recently said here that cutting it was better, sliced up some more mushrooms and the rest of the carrot, and added cottage cheese and mustard-onion pretzel bites. The cottage cheese was also on the use-up list, as well as the mushrooms.
None of these use-up items were bad–smelly, rotten spots, or anything–but they needed to be used before they got to that point. The lettuce was getting limp, the cottage cheese was nearing its date, the potato was losing its firmness.
The soup was splendid. The garlic was about half-cooked, so it had plenty of flavor and somewhat of a bite, which accented the mellow flavor of the broth. The canned broth was boosted by the juices that cooked out of the chicken (which probably had been soaked in flavor enhances before freezing, come to think of it), and the parsely and carrots added background to the flavor. I relished the leftovers in lunch the next day.
The salad was overwhelmed by the carrot, but the pretzel bits worked very well. Put some carbs in there to help make up for what one solitary potato couldn’t provide. I forgot to include the tomato, but I am not sure the soft wet tomatoe would have gotten along with the crispy-crunchy carrot-pretzel theme I already had going. And the tomato went in the next day’s supper without incident.