Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Frugal, Nutritious Supper

I was rummaging around in the freezer looking for something to serve for supper tonight, and I came across 3 individual bags of bones leftover from 3 different meals.  Eureka!  The ingredients for a hearty and nutritious chowder were at my fingertips, so here's what I did:

First, I popped the bags of bones and meat scraps into my pressure cooker with enough water to just about cover them.  I covered it tightly and put it on high heat.  Once it reached high pressure, I cooked it at that steady heat for one hour.  Believe it or not, with a pressure cooker, that's enough time to fully extract the gelatine and all the nutrition from the bones and have the meat literally falling off the bones.  I love my pressure cookers as they make such fast work of creating incredible stock!

Once it cooled a bit, I strained the contents of the pot, and left all the bones and meat scraps to cool in the strainer.  I returned the stock to the pot and added lots of chopped onion, some celery and carrots and diced potatoes.   Back went the lid, and I returned the pressure cooker to high pressure for about 12 minutes.  I turned off the heat and allowed it to release pressure on it's own as it cooled, while I worked at pulling the slightly cooled meat off the bones.  I was left with just a few larger bones (which were discarded) but everything else went to good use.

The bits that I didn't want in the soup went into the chicken scrap bucket for our hens (food producing animals get priority for scraps at our house).   This bowl full of meat (mostly ham) was destined for the chowder.

Next step was to thicken the stock and turn it into a chowder by adding a litre of whipping cream and about 1/2 cup flour (mixed thoroughly with some water first to form a batter consistency).    I let this simmer for a while and it thickened into a gorgeous creamy chowder in just a few minutes.  I then added some frozen peas for color and to use up what I had left in the freezer.  They cooked up quickly and then I added the bowl of tender flavourful meat that I had set aside.

In about an hour and half (very little of that was hands on time), I had a fantastically tasty chowder on the table.  Served with some home made bread, it was very satisfying and as a bonus - packed with nutrition.

If you don't own a pressure cooker, I'd recommend looking into getting one.  They are a very worthwhile investment!

1) saving money (you can cook less expensive meats fork tender in them)
2) saving time (cooking stock, whole grains, beans and legumes is much faster!)
3) boosting nutrition (getting all the minerals out of the bones making your stock very gelatinous)

We'll get 2 meals out of this large pot of chowder, and for a cost of about $7.00CAD, that's a very frugal way to feed 7 people for 2 suppers!

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