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Monday, February 11, 2008

The World's Most Expensive Chicken (with a recipe for Hungarian Dumplings)


  Homemade Chicken Soup - Max's Bowl 
  Originally uploaded by Foodmomiac

I think I mentioned that after I finished Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, I did my food shopping online. I got my staples from Peapod, and then ordered my meat and produce from Fresh Picks, a local service that gets food from (mostly) local farmers, and delivers it once a week. One of the items I ordered was a whole chicken, cut up. It was about 5 pounds, and the total cost was $20.

For those accustomed to buying their chickens at Costco or the supermarket, this price is outrageous. But, when you consider that this chicken was organic, and was raised at a family farm, allowed to roam free all day, it becomes worth it. Also, if you compare it to eating out, it's way cheaper. This $20 chicken fed three adults and two children on Wednesday (we made a version of Chris' recipe). And then it make a delicious soup for two adults and two children last night. AND, I have a really big container of the soup left over. See?? A bargain.

For the soup, I was craving Hungarian dumplings (virtually the same thing as German Spaetzle), which are really easy to make, especially if you have a Spaetzle Maker. I put the leftover chicken in a big pot with carrots, celery and onion. Then, I covered everything with fresh water and let it cook for a few hours. I removed and discarded the onion. I pulled the chicken off the bone and chopped it up, adding it back into the stock. I also chopped up the carrots and celery and added those back as well. This soup went into the fridge to hang out until we were ready to eat.

About 45 minutes before dinner time, I put the soup pot back on the stove. In the meantime, I prepared the dumpling batter. The recipe came from The Frugal Gourmet on our Immigrant Ancestors. It's super easy. Combine 2-1/2 cups flour, 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. baking powder. In another container, combine 2 eggs beaten, 1/2 cup milk, 1/2 cup water and 2 Tb. oil (you can also use lard for a more authentic Hungarian flavor). Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix well. This will produce a very sticky batter. Let it hang out on the counter while you wait for your soup to get nice and hot. When the soup is ready to be dumpling'd, put the batter into your spaetzle maker, and let the dumplings fall in. They will quickly rise to the surface, at which point your soup is ready to eat. If you don't have a spaetzle maker, you can put the batter in a large ziploc bag and cut a 1/4 inch size hole in one corner. Then, squeeze out small pieces into your soup.

You can also cook spaetzle in salted, boiling water. Once done, transfer them to a colander. If you cook them this way, you also have the option to follow the boiling with some pan frying in butter. Yum.

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