Once a week, my mother cooks what the family has taken to calling the "faux Thanksgiving dinner." It's a roast chicken, mashed potatoes, peas, and gravy — and it's delicious.
So this week, I set out to make the first faux Thanksgiving dinner of my own. The ingredients — 1 medium sized (free range, but not organic because that doubles the price) roasting chicken, a bag of Yukon gold potatoes, an onion, a garlic clove, a bag of frozen peas, and a bag of carrots — totaled $11.
I'm sure most already have a trusted roast chicken recipe, but I'll share mine anyway because it's my mom's and it turns out perfectly every time.
Dice two potatoes, a medium onion, 1 garlic clove, and 2 carrots and put in roasting pan. Salt vegetables and cover with 2 cups of water.
Season chicken with salt, pepper, paprika, and sage. Trim excess fat off of chicken and roll into six twine-like strips to place over breast area (this will keep the breast moist). Set chicken in roasting pan rack.
Roast in the oven at 400* for 90 minutes.
After you've removed the roasting pan, take all of the vegetables and purée them in a blender or food processor. Add water until you reach a consistency you want in your gravy.
Add the puréed mixture back to the roasting pan (or a sauce pan). Add salt & pepper to taste, and simmer until you're done carving up the chicken.
My husband and I ate heaping portions of chicken, mashed potatoes, peas and gravy for dinner and still had lots left over. So the following night, I made a stew out of leftover chicken, potatoes, peas, chopped potatoes, onions, carrots, thyme and gravy. Exact same ingredients as the previous night's dinner just left to cook in a Dutch oven on very low heat for an hour. We ate generous portions of the stew, and still had leftovers (enough for a fifth meal, which I had for lunch today).
And with the remaining chicken carcass, I followed James Delingpole's recipe for a simple, delicious chicken stock.
So long as we're living in Obama's America, I figure there are a lot of us out there who could use ideas on tasty ways to stretch our pennies. So bring your suggestions.
Image of whole roasted chicken via Shutterstock.