Thursday, September 22, 2011

Eating Omily: My Lunch Story

It's after midnight...Happy Autumn, you guys!

So my last few posts about Food Network's Health Eats' Brown Bag Challenge have made me feel a little fraudulent because my schedule is such lately that I've been able to enjoy lunch in the comfort of my own home.
(You can read more about the Brown Bag Challenge in my last couple Eating Omily Posts, and of course, on Food Network's Healthy Eats blog, where you can link to lots of other blogs about delicious food!)

I was actually really excited today to get to brown-bag my lunch, and take it with me to work, for realz! What tasty thing did I enjoy today? Why, chicken salad. Do you like chicken salad? If the answer is no, what was the last chicken salad you had? Some anemic bird drowned first in saline in a can, and then in cheap mayonnaise in a bowl with some chopped imported celery? Well of course you didn't like that! The tale of my chicken salad begins further back, and just a bit further away...

There is a lovely farm called Flying Pigs Farm in upstate New York. As the name suggests, they specialize in pork, and oh, that bacon is too much for words! But, they also offer eggs, and consequently, chickens. I bought myself a beautiful little two-pound chicken from their cooler at the Farmer's Market last Friday, and this Monday I was most excited to pull that baby, now thawed, out of the fridge, and stick some garlic cloves and bay leaves up its nether region! Ok, that wasn't the most exciting part until my husband and I started making inappropriate jokes. I also spread olive oil and dried herbs between the skin and the meat all over the breasts, and put a handful of chopped onions and some green beans in the roasting pan. This all went into the oven at 400 degrees for, oh, one hour. Aromatic, herby, moist, golden-crunchy skinned, quintessentially chickeny roast chicken came out. Oh, what a dinner that was! Nom nom nom...

I cleaned the rest of the meat off the carcass while my husband did the dishes, placed the carcass in a baggy along with the roasted veggies we hadn't eaten, and the left over chicken in a tupperware, and relegated them both to the fridge. The next day I simmered that carcass with some peppercorns, a generous palm-full of salt, and some sad, wilty celery from the back of the fridge, and it yielded deep yellow, fragrant, delicious stock that, when refrigerated thickened to a glossy jiggle from all the natural protein-rich gelatin extracted from the bones. Nom!!

So today, Wednesday, I pulled that left-over meat out of the fridge, and mixed some if it up with low-fat organic yogurt, and some of my home-made spiced apple chutney I canned the previous Winter for the easiest, most delectably moist, flavorful, and nutritious chicken salad imaginable. Remember, I didn't have to flavor the chicken, the chicken was already exquisite all by itself; I only had add creamy texture, and that sweet flavor, and texture variance that makes chicken salad chicken salad. I dumped the salad onto the lid of the container, and tossed some chopped salad greens in the creamy dressing in the container, before topping the dressed salad greens with the chicken salad. I could not wait to eat this lunch.
Yes, it was delicious.

The moral of the story? A good bagged lunch is the result of an eating lifestyle that embraces a deep respect for the ingredients themselves: a cooking style that seeks to enhance, instead of being forced to fix, and, and of course, an appreciation for left-overs and the treasures that can be gleaned from them.

Tomorrow...maybe chicken-vegetable soup!

~em

P.S. Next post I'll tell you what my husband had for lunch today! Hint: Winter squash was involved!!

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