Troll Cave

The Care and Feeding of Barbarians

More gravy. When you need to really stretch the leftover’s from the night before, your choices are generally gravy or soup, and when your audience doesn’t really care for soup but does like gravy. . .well, you wind up making a lot of gravy. It effectively spreads out the protien without leaving people hungry.

The chicken in question is cooked in balsamic vinegar, garlic, rosemary, bay-leaf and lots and lots of mushrooms. Leftovers are scarce, because this is a popular meal. However, these leftovers do have flavor, and it merely needs to be encouraged. A faulty stretching of leftovers is one which dilutes the flavor as well as the main ingredients, producing an unsatisfying meal.

Once again, I start with a stick of butter and 1/2 cup flour. My liquid is one can concentrated chicken broth and two cans water. I slice the chicken and the mushrooms–the smaller the pieces the more even their distribution. I put dried rosemary leaves (not ground rosemary) and dried bay-leaves in a tea-cup. Ground rosemary tastes a lot worse than the whole leaves; I’m not sure why, but ground rosemary has a strong tendancy to taste like dirt. However, the whole leaves can feel quite pokey and prickly in the mouth. So I pour boiling water over them and let them steep a while, to soften them up and release the flavor.

After adding the chicken, herbs, and any leftover liquid from the night before, you’ll have to taste the gravy. I needed to add granulated garlic powder (real garlic in the butter would have been even better, but I forgot), and more balsamic vinegar. I also added more water to thin it out more.

I usually serve this over rice or egg noodles. My barbarians prefer Jasmine rice, so we make a big pot of it–5 cups of rice, and 7 1/2 cups of water. I put the rice and water in the pot, bring it to a boil, and then lower the heat as much as I can. I don’t remember the exact cooking time, but the rice is done when you tilt the pot and can no longer see any water in with the rice. Rice should be covered when it cooks, but not totally. If none of the steam can escape, the rice tends to be kind of soggy and mushy. We have a lid with a little hole right in the center, and that works well. But when I have to make a small amount, I just use a small saucepan and leave the lid slightly askew.

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