The Elastic Chicken

We've all been there. an unexpected bill comes up or you have to drain your savings account for some emergency expenditure. Sometimes, things like this just happen and your food budget is usually the first to suffer because of it. Our family used to live in the country and we didn't have the luxury of town water.

One time our well went dry and we had to spend every penny we had to have another one dug. Of course, this new well had to be deeper than the first which meant the man who did the work dug deeper into our pockets. I started to worry about how we were going to be able to feed the family until I sat down and made a plan. Hence the story of the Elastic Chicken. I went to our local grocery store who happened to be having a sale on some great Perdue Oven Roaster chickens. I bought one of them that was about eight pounds.

I knew my plan and wanted to get the most bang for my buck so I opted for one of the biggest ones they had. That night I fixed Baked Chicken. I simply put little pads of butter on its skin and added a sprinkle of salt and pepper.

(I really didn't have many seasonings to use nor a lot of money to buy any.) We had some mashed potatoes and green beans to go with the chicken and everyone was quite full when we finished dinner. Meal number one was a success! Before I put the leftover chicken carcass away, I picked off as much meat as possible from the bones. I chopped and diced the pieces and came up with nearly 3 cups worth of chicken meat! Hurray! I then took the carcass and placed it into a large storage bag and put it into the freezer. The next night, I took half of the chicken meat and mixed it with about one cup of mayonnaise. To this, I crumbled up a leftover piece of bacon from breakfast that morning.

I also mixed in one celery stalk and one small onion, both chopped up finely. I added a little salt and pepper to taste and served on toasted bread as Chicken Salad Sandwiches. As a side dish, I'm sorry to say we had potato chips. Nothing fancy but it sure did make for a quick and easy meal! I also knew that the next night would knock their socks off! The third night I made Chicken-Pasta Salad. To make this wonderful meal, I thawed a bag of frozen pea pods in cool water until they were slightly tender then drained them. Next, I boiled about half a box of macaroni adding the pea pods to the water for the last two minutes.

After draining the two together, I stirred in a third cup of mayonnaise, a quarter cup of French dressing, a cup of cherry tomatoes cut into halves (regular tomatoes will work but you will need to drain them a bit) and the rest of the leftover chicken meat. Lightly toss everything together and you have an excellent meal that you can serve with some bread and butter on the side. Meal number three was a huge hit!! But wait until you hear about the last meal. The last night, I took the chicken carcass out of the freezer and put it into a large pot with about five cups of water. I also added some chopped celery tops (which I had conveniently kept in the refrigerator instead of throwing them away), one carrot chopped, and one small onion sliced thinly.

I brought the carcass and vegetables to a boil and then simmered them for about two hours. I then removed the carcass from the broth that I had made and finally threw it away. That chicken had served me well! Some of the meat from the carcass that I had missed during my picking and boiled off and was floating in the water. I scooped the new meat and vegetables out of the water and set them aside. I then removed about four cups of broth and set that off to the side.

In the large pot, I added a half cup of Bisquick. I cooked this mixture over low heat until the mixture was smooth and bubbly. I then added the reserved broth back into the pot and returned it to a boil. After it boiled for about one minute, I added the chicken meat and vegetables back into the pot. I took another two cups of Bisquick and mixed it with two-thirds cup of milk until a soft dough formed.

By dropping the dough in spoonfuls into the hot chicken mixture, I created the most delectable dumplings! I cooked the chicken and dumplings uncovered on low heat for about 10 minutes and then covered and cooked for another 10 minutes. This was, perhaps, the BEST Chicken and Dumplings I had ever tasted. This story is true and I believe it would have made Mr. Perdue proud. Even to this day, when I go to the grocery store and see a fat Perdue Oven Roaster, I think about the time that I had to stretch one chicken over four nights.

Otherwise known as the Story of the Elastic Chicken.

Della Franklin is a business owner, successful IT Systems Manager & Internet Marketer. She counts 10 years experience as a teacher as well as being a Certified Network Engineer, cook, wife & mother. See more about her at http://www.foodielooksatfood.com or http://www.dogwoodsquare.com


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