Crispy chicken skin – with extra rewards…

Crispy chicken skin – with extra rewards…

Crispy chicken skin with benefits

I was veggie for 8 years. I most missed roast chicken, picking at all the good bits with my dad, like little Henry VIIIs at the end of Sunday lunch.

Rediscovering the joys of crispy chicken skin has been a joy of my later adult life. If a recipe calls for chicken thighs, I’ll always, always strip the skin off to render the fat. It takes a little time but you don’t have to pay any attention. Slowly the fat will melt into the pan, leaving you with crispy chicken skin that you can, if you’re me, enjoy just with some salt and a cold drink. If you feel so inclined, crumble it through some popcorn.

The benefits? Now you have chicken fat to cook with. Think relay race: what does that chicken fat inspire you to cook? It will only keep for a week or so, in a lidded jar in the fridge. Maybe you’ll make pasta; maybe a stew. The point is that from one packet of chicken thighs, you have the stew you were going to cook, some crispy skin and some fat. One meal, one snack and one store cupboard ingredient, and never a leftover, leftover.

Crispy chicken skin with benefits

Rendering fat from meat is a zero-waste and tasty way to make the most your chicken

Ingredients

  • chicken skin
  • salt go crazy with smoked salt if you have it...

Tools

  • frying pan
  • tongs
  • jar/little pot for storing leftover fat

Instructions

  • Place the chicken skins in the frying pan and salt them well. Turn the heat to medium and gently cook the skins through.
  • It will take about 20-30 minutes to get the skins crispy, gently pulling the skin so that it's as thin as possible.
  • When you are happy with the crispiness, eat. You can store them but they are best served warm, maybe with a little extra salt.

The fat

  • Pour the fat into a jar and store in the fridge. It will keep for around a week or so. Use the chicken fat instead of any butter or vegetable oil if you're making a soup or stew.

Leftover Green Beans with Soy Pork

Leftover Green Beans with Soy Pork

Leftover Green Beans with Soy Pork

This Chinese recipe for green bean stir fry shows one of the food rules I like to teach: pork and green stuff work well together. Every culture pairs them (bacon and cabbage! Ham and peas! Frisee lettuce and lardons!). Sweet and/or bitter greens both work well against strong flavoured, fatty pork. Hell, that’s why I love adding peas to chowder

Stir Fry is an excellent book to learn about Chinese cuisine; it’s simple and the recipes work. I avoided cooking Chinese food for a long time as I couldn’t afford all the flavours and vinegars. Living on a budget means not having a larder stuffed so you can cook Italian, Japanese, Ghanaian or Nordic cuisine on any given day. Right now, greens are great and I know I’m cooking a lot of Chinese cuisine. This means I can justify the rice wines and whatnot. I know that I’ll use up the little bottles before moving on to different flavours – and not necessarily replacing the oyster sauce or rice vinegar when I finish it.

Inspiration isn’t easy to come by when you’re buying the same veg week in, week out. Starting with using up half a packet of green beans in a new way is a great place to start. Or try a veg box; or buy two things from a farmers market; or take a punt on a large £1 scoop of a veg you might not usually try. You might be surprised. You’ll never know unless you try, right?

If you like the look of this recipe but don’t have green beans, then use runner beans, or maybe even some sliced hardy greens or peas. I don’t know if that’s authentic, but it’ll use up those veg or that meat, it’ll get everyone fed and it’ll taste great.

Leftover green beans with soy pork

Adapted, barely, from 'Minced Soy Pork', Ching-He Huang, 'Stir Fry', p173

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 red chilli (optional, if cooking for kids)
  • 200 grams minced pork
  • 1/2 teaspoon Chinese five spice
  • 1 teaspoon dark soy sauce/tamari sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Shaohsing rice wine or dry sherry
  • around 200 grams leftover green beans cut into 2.5 cm slices
  • 50 ml water
  • 1 tablespoon light soy sauce/shoyu
  • 1 teaspoon cornflour, blended with 1 tablespoon cold water
  • pinch freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

Tools

  • knife and chopping board
  • wok
  • measuring jug
  • ramikin/little bowl
  • measuring jug

To serve

  • jasmine rice or noodles

Instructions

Prepare the noodles or rice

  • Cook as per packet instructions
  • If you haven't already, blend the cornflour and water.

Prep

  • Cut the beans into 2.5cm slices. Slice the garlic and chilli, if using.

Method

  • Heat the wok over a high heat until smoking and add the oil. Add the garlic and chilli (if using) and toss for a few seconds to release the flavour. Add the pork and let it settle in the wok for about 30 seconds to brown and sear and then stir for 1 minute.
  • Add the five spice powder and season with the dark soy/tamari. Toss until the pork turns rich brown and then season deglaze the wok with the Shaohsing rice wine/sherry.
  • Add the beans and toss for 2 minutes. Add the water and bring to the boil, then season with the light soy sauce and stir in the blended cornflour. Add a twist of black pepper and season with the toasted sesame oil

Storage

  • You can stir in a lidded container, in the fridge, for up to 5 days.

Leftover sausage and bacon stuffed potatoes

Leftover sausage and bacon stuffed potatoes

Leftover bacon and sausage chowder

My friend Chloe scooped out the middle of potatoes in her aunt’s Harringey kitchen, scorching her fingers whilst a bemused bunch of her Italian friends watched. Chloe was living in Italy and a group of mates had come over for New Years. Her then boyfriend loved cooking, he encouraged her, and helped, burning his fingers too. I think I just sat at the counter, happy that they were all back over from Italy for now, basking in the happy noise of their company.

She mashed the potato with bacon and butter, squashing it back into the skins before re-baking them. We ate for hours that New Years Eve, a mix of Italian and English, plenty of wine, lots of chat.

A few years ago, faced with hungry kids and a small food budget, I went back to these potatoes. Pork is a strong flavour, so carries through potato well. Mixing in an egg with the potato gives everyone some extra protein which can be helpful if you’re worried about getting goodness into everyone’s bellies when the pennies have to stretch far. Bubbling cheese is optional but so good; it’s also the only way to get my eldest any way near a jacket potato.

Every time I make these potatoes, I think of Chloe. I think of the time I learned that brussells are amazing steamed with a healthy wodge of melted butter and a sprinkling of salt; I think of the endless plates of tuna pasta I’d eat at her mum’s house and the aranchini that her ex made me. Of her mum’s industrial bags of sugar and the fact that I only drink tea because you had to at her house (I’m not joking).

The only reason any of us can navigate around StorrCupboard is down to Chloe. She is a bloody wonder. And if you ever find yourself in Turin, go to the lovely ex-boyfriend’s excellent restaurant Scannabue, where you’ll eat nose to tail, and roll out afterwards, full and happy. Every recipe has a life before and after anyone puts it in a book or a blog; I hope you have fun making this idea your own.

 

Leftover sausage and bacon stuffed potatoes

Servings: 4

Ingredients

  • 4 large potatoes or 8 small...
  • 1 rasher leftover bacon
  • 2 leftover sausages (around 400 grams)
  • 2 eggs
  • 50 grams butter
  • 200 grams cheese

Tools

  • Scales
  • Chopping board
  • Knife
  • Potato masher/fork
  • Whisk/fork
  • Oven-proof dish
  • Dessert spoon
  • Cheese grater
  • Optional: metal skewer

Instructions

Prep

  • Crumble the sausage into small pieces and chop bacon into small pieces

Method

  • Turn the oven to 180c
  • Prick the potatoes all over with a skewer/fork else they will explode!
  • If you have a metal skewers place them through the potatoes, as this conducts the heat through the middle and saves a lot of time and electricity
  • Depending on the size of your potatoes, they will take between 40m & 2 hours... you can start them off in a microwave if you like (WITHOUT the skewer...)

When the potatoes are cooked

  • When the potatoes are squashy to touch, take them out and *carefully* cut into them; try to cut them through their fat side, so it’s easier to fill them/cover with a lot of cheese.
  • PLEASE BE CAREFUL! THERE WILL BE A LOT OF STEAM READY TO GUSH OUT AND STEAM BURNS ARE PAINFUL
  • Scoop all the soft potato into a mixing bowl and break up with a potato masher/fork. Add the crumbled meat, season, and give a good stir
  • Whisk the eggs, and pour into the potato mixture. Stir again.
  • Place the potato skins in the dish. Using a regular eating spoon, put the potato mixture into the potato skins. Grate cheese all over the top.
  • Return to the oven for between 20 & 40m (depending on the size of your potatoes). They are done when they feel firm.

Storage

  • They will keep for a day or two in the fridge. As you have re-heated the meat once already, be careful! Smell and taste, and if you must re-heat ensure that fucker is piping hot all the way through.

Leftover sausage and bacon chowder

Leftover sausage and bacon chowder

Leftover bacon and sausage chowder

What angel first paired smokey food and milk?  Comfort food of the highest order.  Chowder, an American soup from the east coast, has hundreds of iterations (I once sat with a cookbook devoted to chowder.  Totally ignored the friend who I hadn’t seen for about a year and her new home and hamsters, but I learnt a lot about chowder.  Sorry Becky).
If you can, use whole milk because you want that creaminess.  This is not the place for skimmed milk. The potatoes should be floury ones like maris pipers or king edwards- you want the potato to crumble in, so that you get the starchiness.
If you have time to cut the fat off the bacon and let it melt a little in the pan, then you’ll get more bacon-y flavour in the soup.  Yum.  Seriously – are you still cutting fat off bacon and frying it in olive oil?  STOP!  Snip off that cold fat (what is oil if not fat?) and pop it in the cold pan on a low heat and leeeeave it for about 15 mins.  That fat will, slowly, melt (“render”), and you can cook the onions and other veg for the soup in this fat.  And now you don’t have to buy more oil! So, you haven’t chucked good bacon fat AND you’ve not used unnecesarry olive or sunflower oil, leaving it for another meal – so, that’s basically 2 food waste pitfalls avoided.  Win win!
In this chowder  I used basic veg, but you can add in sweetcorn, peas, diced pepper.  And even my kids eat this for heaven’s sake, so it’s a straight up win for me.  Whatever random bits of cold chicken, chorizo, veg -as long as it tastes good with the soup, it goes in.  Happy days!

 

Leftover sausage and bacon chowder

Ingredients

  • 25 grams butter
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 medium potato (around 300grams)
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 stick celery
  • around 350 ml milk - ideally whole milk as this is creamy soup
  • leftover sausages and bacon
  • sweetcorn & peas optional
  • salt & pepper

Tools

  • Scales
  • Chopping board & knife
  • Large saucepan with lid
  • Potato masher/fork
  • Wooden spoon

Instructions

Prep

  • Optional: cut the fat off the bacon and place into a cool saucepan. Once it sizzles a little add some extra oil
  • Chop your veg. Crumble the sausage into small pieces.

Main

  • Once the fat is warm/butter is melted, add the onion and cook on a moderate (middle) heat for about 10m. You don’t want the onions to brown, you want them to go translucent and soft enough to be squashed by the back of your wooden spoon
  • When the onions are cooked, add your diced potato, carrot and celery. Season. Place the lid on.
  • Turn the heat down a little so that the veggies ‘sweat’ and get a little soft. This takes around 10m.
  • Now that the chopped veggies are ready, pour the milk over and bring to the boil.
  • DO NOT LEAVE YOUR PAN! Milk can boil over v quickly!
  • As soon as it’s boiling turn the pan down so it’s simmering (that is, little bubbles are popping up but it’s not boiling hard)
  • Timer on for 15m; keep checking the the veggies are done by pulling a couple out and checking if they are soft. Depending on how large/small you’ve cut them, this could take anything between 15 & 25m**
  • If using peas/sweetcorn, add them now.
  • Add the crumbled meat, boil it through and serve with lots of buttered bread.
  • ** If you’re making the soup in advance, turn the heat off and leave to cool. Do not add the meat and store separately. When you’re ready to eat, heat the soup; as it comes to boil add the meat and let the soup boil for a minute or so, to make sure that the meat is fully hot. Do not reheat.

Storage

  • I wouldn't re-heat this as it'll be the third time around for the meat. 

Leftover sausage and bacon wraps

Leftover sausage and bacon wraps

Leftover sausage and bacon wraps

At home we’re trying this whole “don’t just eat it because it’s there” thing.  Not easy when it’s so easy just to eat those last two sausages, last rasher of bacon, just sitting there, just in reach, so easy to just eat them … but we were good, we didn’t. Food waste is also eating food that we don’t need, a luxury that most of the world hasn’t long been able to achieve.
But 2 sausages and 1 rasher of bacon?  Cold bacon?  Ergh. Or maybe … some perfect salty, rich flavours that can stretch to feed 2 hangry adults or 4 modest appetites…
Using some Mexican inspired flavours, I though about refried beans. Refried beans were so surprisingly tasty to me when I got over my jitters and tried them.  The name is misleading, a mis-translation. In my local Asda, a tin of refried beans is £1.50, and a tin of pinto beans is 55p. It won’t surprise you to know I went for the pinto beans. Buy ready made if you like – we all need different shortcuts in life, and you’d be horrified to see the inside of my car, etc etc.
The garlic-y, soft beans are a great foil to the salty meat.  Toast your wrap, chuck in whatever salads you have, crumble over a little of the meat, some Tabasco or chilli flakes to taste and you’re done. Go crazy and add some sour cream.  Living on the edge, stopping food waste and saving money, whoop!

Refried beans

Adapted, barely, from Wahaca by Thomasina Miers, p148-9
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Total Time30 mins

Ingredients

  • 1 can pinto or black beans
  • 1 medium onion (about 200 grams)
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 25 + 10 grams unsalted butter or lard * 25 grams for cooking, 10 for serving
  • few fresh bay leaves
  • salt & pepper
  • * if cooking with lard, still use 10 grams of butter to serve, not additional lard

Tools

  • sieve/colander
  • frying pan
  • chopping board and knife
  • food processor or immersion blender & bowl

Instructions

  • Drain and rinse the beans. Place in bowl or food processor and blitz, adding a little water to loosen up.
  • Finely dice the onion.
  • Heat the fat in your frying pan. When it starts to foam, add the onion and season well. Let it cook until really soft - about ten minutes. When the onion is nearly ready, finely slice the garlic.
  • When the onions are done, add the garlic and stir, making sure that it doesn't burn - not too hot. After about a minute, add the pureed beans and bay leaf and stir well. Season heartily, as beans like a lot.
  • Stir regularly over the ten minutes to keep the texture nice and avoid sticking to the pan. Add a little more water - you're looking for a puree that falls off your spoon.
  • When you're ready to serve, stir through the 10 grams of butter. Spread over your wrap.

Storage and other uses

  • Drizzle with sour cream and serve with tacos.
    Store in a lidded container in the fridge for up to five days.

Sad salad pack chicken stew

Sad salad pack chicken stew

This stew is just yum.  Just. Yum.  It was inspired by the wonderful Victoria Glass, from her amazing ‘Too Good to Waste’ book.  Her stew uses sweet flavours – sweet potatoes and red peppers.  Lovely, but I wanted super super simple.  The leek is great and don’t miss it out if possible as it adds a gentleness that is just delicious.

Using chicken thighs is really cheap, and much better for a stew than breast meat.  On my insta stories I showed how to render the fat from the skins; you just leave them cooking verrrrrrrrry slowly and the fat will leach out.  And then you, dear cook, get to eat it all.  Yum.

Then the leaves – just stir them in and watch them wilt down.  Supper in one pot – what’s not to love?

Leftover salad pack Chicken Stew

Inspired by Victoria Glass, Too Good to Waste, p25

Serves 4

Ingredients

800 grams chicken thighs (4 chunky ones or a packet of 8)
1 onion (around 80 grams)
1 leek (around 100 grams)
1 carrot
1 stalk of celery
3 potatoes (around 500 grams)
1 sprig of rosemary
1 bay leaf
1 litre chicken stock
Any leftover salad pack leaves that you need to eat up!

Tools

Heavy saucepan
Tongs, if you have them
Knife
Chopping board
Jug

Time

About half an hour;  active time and 45 minutes simmering – so about an hour and a half all told

Prep

Pull the skins off the chicken thighs
Finely dice the onion
Wash the leek and slice in half lengthways
Cut the leek into half moons
Dice the carrot and the celery
Peel and crush the garlic

Method

Place the skins in a cold frying pan and turn the heat to medium; sprinkle over a little salt . Turn them every couple of minutes and press the skins into the pan

When they are crispy and crunchy, remove and either scoff them or use them to add crunch to a salad another day

Turn the heat up and brown the chicken all around; you may have to do this in batches

As the chicken pieces are ready, place them on a plate and leave them to one side.  Keep cooking until you have them all finished up

Place the onion and leek into the hot fat and sweat for about 10 minutes, until soft

When they are soft, add in the carrots and celery and sweat until soft

When the veggies are soft, scrape them out and leave to one side

Add in a little more fat and turn the heat up

Pop your potatoes into the hot fat and brown on all sides

When the potatoes are brown, turn the heat down and add in the crushed garlic and stir around the hot fat for one minute

Once the garlic is cooked, return all the veggies and chicken pieces to the pan

Pour over the chicken stock, bring to the boil.  Turn the heat down and leave to simmer.  You may need to rotate the pieces from time to time

When the chicken is cooked through, stir in the leaves.  They should only take a minute or two to wilt

Storage

Leave to cool to room temperature; if the leaves were on the wonk, freeze any leftovers.  If you were just bored of them, you should have up for 5 days to eat the stew.  Only reheat what you want at each meal.

Got a question? Ingredient you need help with? Get in touch:

ann@storrcupboard.com