Turning Bones into Soup

The recipe I used to spatchcock the chicken last night suggested saving the backbone for soup. My mom makes soup or stock out of chicken or turkey carcasses plenty, but I hadn’t ever tried it. But considering we’re COLD here and I’m working from home tomorrow (meaning I can eat out of the fridge instead of off the expensive streets of DC), I decided to give it a try. I like chicken noodle soup fine, but I really like barley, so I decided to try Chicken Barley Soup. I chose this over my mom’s recipe because my mom’s takes several hours – whereas with this one, you cook the barley separately while you cook the soup and drain the barley and stir it in at the end. So this recipe gets bonus points for being quicker (but not quick – you still have to cook the soup for an hour, and use regular barley, which I prefer to quick cooking barley anyway).

I saved the raw backbone and the roasted bones from last night’s chicken, and added some of the leftover chicken, since I like my soup meaty. Add to that a little additional stock/broth, carrots, onion, celery, and barley – and voila, hearty chicken soup. I loved it – it has a really nice chicken flavor, isn’t salty (I added a little salt and some pepper to my bowl), and I really prefer the chewiness of the barley to soft noodles. Canned chicken soup really can’t hold a candle to homemade. I think I’ll be saving chicken carcasses more often!

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Spatchcocking

We had a very nice Thanksgiving with my parents, but ended up at home earlier than planned due to some illness. So I was home this afternoon in plenty of time to get to the store and cook dinner tonight. I was planning on a nice roasted chicken (my go-to in time of illness, I guess) but decided to try a new technique. I cut the backbone out of my chicken and flattened it out, browned it in my cast iron skillet on the stovetop, and popped it in the oven for 35 minutes. I think it actually could have cooked a little less, as it was pretty hot when I pulled it out. No added fat (other than the veggie oil I use to season my skillet), no spice other than kosher salt and fresh ground pepper (I skipped the red pepper flakes since I was feeding the kiddo, but will add next time). I roasted some of our favorite smashed potatoes at the same time, since they roast at the same temp (if you haven’t made these potatoes, you should – they are crisp and salty and delicious) and served some raw veggies (my favorite) on the side. Even little C, who usually asks for “kid food”, eagerly ate his chicken and potatoes, and a handful of raw red peppers on the side. Bonus: I have lots of leftover chicken for chicken salad,and I saved the bones to make chicken stock. And the chicken cooks quickly enough that I could roast it on a weeknight, which is great, since my family always enjoys roast chicken.

Happy belated Thanksgiving!  I’m thankful for these quick meals that my whole family enjoys!