The mad, the maddening, and the meat

Every week, when I check the price points on the packages of my standard purchase of organic chicken and organic ground meat I start talking to myself like some kind of crazy person on the loose that found their way out to Redhook, Brooklyn and into Fairway Market, same way the occasional pigeon does, all flapping and feathers. How can ONE chicken breast be nine dollars and forty one cents? And how are you supposed to make one chicken breast and one pack of ground meat last for one week between two adults and a child the height of a short horse? I buy it anyway and mutter my way on through the snack aisle where bags of healthy chips on sale for two fifty calm me down a little.
Stretch. If you buy quality pasta made from high quality flour and strain it from the cooking water before it’s quite done, you end up with a higher protein content. Green Peas are also high and protein and have the benefit of being green. No need to count solely on Miss Chicken. Fresh parsley is high in vitamin C and an onion is good for the blood–throw that in, and you have a complete meal. Jewel in the crown is a gorgeous olive oil–so delicious you could sip it. Saute the onion in teeny tiny bits. Add a handful of chopped parsley, salt and pepper. Keep it going over a medium low flame until it is completely tender and only a tiny bit caramelized, along with an uncut clove of garlic. It should taste fantastic. That’s how you know it’s ready. Defrost some of your homemade stock (which you can make from the bones of the breast you bought the week before. If you want, you can defrost the stock right in the pea/onion mixture once it’s done.) Add the peas to the onion, and heat through. Cook the pasta separately in salted water and drain well slightly before it’s al dente. Reserve. If you haven’t already, add the stock to the peas/onions. Bring to a simmer. Drop in the chicken and over a very low flame, cook through, but JUST. Remove the chicken, cool slightly, pull it from the bones, shred and add it back to the stock, which is now off the flame. If the chicken is a little pink, it’s okay. It will cook through in the hot stock. Add the hot noodles and a good drizzle of your best olive oil. Taste for salt and pepper. On the side, make a smash of fresh basil, parsley or mint leaves, a half a clove of garlic, a grate of parmesan and a little fresh, toasted, ground bread crumbs. Even lemon zest if you like. Taste for olive oil, salt and pepper. Pass this in a little bowl on the side to top the soup with. (AKA gremolata) Lovely with a side dish of big olives, radishes, toasted walnuts and croutons.

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