Fare Exchange: Use your crockpot for moist, rotisserie-style chicken

bakery background
photo Jane Henegar

This morning we received a repeat request for apple butter made without sugar but with fruit juice. And here's another. Vera Storey of South Pittsburg, Tennessee, is seeking a lost spicy cookie. She wrote of reading "about a year ago a recipe for cookies that contained quite a bit of cayenne pepper. I cut the recipe out and used it often, as my family liked it so much. The recipe got lost and my family keeps asking for the cookies." So here's the request: for an afore-printed cookie with cayenne.

Thirdly, do you know from experience about making casseroles with instant potatoes, and whether the leftovers may be frozen? (See more details in this column.)

Finally, here's a request for one reader in particular but also for all of you: How does one make a mirepoix?

GINGERY CHICKEN

Clifford Burdette's second recipe highlighting fresh ginger comes with grilled chicken and has a family history to it. "This recipe was given to me by my father-in-law about 45 years ago," Mr. Burdette explained.

Hama's Hawaiian Grilled Ginger Chicken

1 thumb-size piece ginger (1 tablespoon grated)

1 to 2 cloves garlic, minced

1 green onion chopped small, (green and white part)

2 to 3 tablespoons soy sauce

6 to 8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, excess fat removed, cut in half lengthwise

Mix ginger, garlic, green onion and soy sauce in a sealable bag or shallow dish. Add chicken, and mix to combine all together. Cover and place in refrigerator for 2 to 3 hours to blend flavors. Place on grill, and cook until done, browning on both sides. Ginger chicken may be cooked in a lightly oiled skillet over medium heat until done.

NO-ROTISSERIE CHICKEN

When Jenny Hopkins saw the request for a whole chicken with the taste and juiciness of a store-bought rotisserie bird, she thought of this easy method in a crockpot.

Crockpot Chicken

There's nothing easier than this, my favorite method.

1 whole chicken

2 big chunks each of onion, celery and carrots

2 sprigs rosemary

1 lemon wedge

Salt and pepper to taste

2 chicken bouillon cubes

1 cup water

Put chicken in the crockpot, upside down so the breast sits in the juice. Stuff big chunks of onion, celery and carrots in the cavity, along with a couple of sprigs of rosemary and perhaps a lemon wedge.

Salt and pepper the outside. Add chicken bouillon cubes and about a cup of water. Cook on low. For how long, you ask? If you're gone all day, that's how long it cooks, but probably 6 hours is plenty. The chicken is moist and tender and falls off the bone. Be sure to strain the broth and save, especially if you want to make chicken and dumplings or soup.

Requests

› Sugarless apple butter› Cookies with cayenne pepper› Instant-potato casseroles› Mirepoix

FREEZER POTATOES

Marcia Kling proposed this question, for which an answer might have been available on the web, but she chose to turn instead to "my real-life expert - always the better idea, in my opinion." Fare Exchange is her real-life expert, and that means you.

Her question is this, "Can mashed potatoes be successfully frozen?"

She prepared a casserole from a packet of instant potatoes, something she hadn't done in decades. (This, Ms. Kling, reminded me of instant potato casseroles of that vintage, casseroles that were delicious.) The flakes multiplied, and the result was "far more potatoes than we could consume at a single meal. We were having wonderful short ribs, and I couldn't think of anything that would go with them as well as mashed potatoes. I bake them on my version of mirepoix, which I think gives them a wonderful flavor and creates delicious flavor when blended with a little cornstarch and water. I hate to throw away what is left of my mashed potatoes."

An answer was needed instantly to the instant potatoes question, so here is one shared anonymously from busybudgeter.com. But we are in the market for more, from real live you.

Super Easy Freezer Instant Mashed Potatoes

These are so quick to whip up, are cost effective, can serve a crowd and freeze beautifully to be served later. Not to mention, they're completely delicious. If you don't need mashed potatoes for 20, then just separate these into 4 smaller foil pans to serve with your family dinners.

3 pounds of instant mashed potatoes (available from Sam's Club)

Milk as required by instant mashed potato box

1/2 tablespoon butter

1 onion

2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese at room temperature

1 egg

Parsley flakes as needed

1 foil serving pan (full-size casserole pan)

Sauté onion in 1/2 tablespoon of butter.

Take the amount of liquid required by the box of instant potatoes and add them together, then subtract a half of a cup. Add that amount of equal measurements of both milk and water to the onions.

Do not add additional butter even if it's listed in the directions for the instant potatoes.

Bring the mixture to a boil.

Add in the instant potatoes and mix. The potatoes will be very stiff.

Add the cream cheese, burying it into the potatoes to help it melt and mix.

Add the egg and parsley flakes, mixing again.

Let cool, then cover and label with contents, date and reheating instructions. Freeze.

To reheat:

Let thaw completely.

Place in a buttered pan and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, covered.

Remove the cover and bake for another 1/2 hour uncovered.

For the last 15 minutes, dot the dish with butter.

FEEDBACK

Since we can't test all the recipes printed here, it's a big help to hear from you about recipes that you have enjoyed. Such a note came this week from Mike Coleman, noting that he "made the goat cheese and apple appetizer last night. It was delish." Thank you, Mr. and Mrs. Sunday, for sending that "Sunday at Joe's Appetizer," printed earlier, and for these new breakfast ideas as well.

Vegetarian Breakfasts:

Oatmeal is good of course, and replace sugar/brown sugar with molasses to keep sugar overload down.

Expanding on hot cereal, Congee is a rice-based porridge served not sweet but savory all over Asia. There are many recipes on the Internet. We've enjoyed it when traveling.

We're currently getting set to try a Bengali version of Congee which adds beans ... not clunky old kidney beans but small red lentils. Here's a link in case you want to get ahead of us:

http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2018/01/print/bengali-rice-porridge-with-lentils-and-chicken.html. The chicken should be optional.

Much of India eats Dal for breakfast (another lentil dish).

Also there is a fairly recent trend, Avocado Toast. The basic version is mashed avocado spread on toast. We add salt, pepper and garlic powder, but the sky's the limit. Top with your favorite hot sauce and/or lots of thin-sliced veggies, sprouts, spinach.

So at the end of this column, you have some ideas for new beginnings for your day. Let's keep adding to that list, how about it?

To reach us

Fare Exchange is a longtime meeting place for people who love to cook and love to eat. We welcome both your recipes and your requests. Be sure to include precise instructions for every recipe you send. Mailing address: Jane Henegar, 913 Mount Olive Road, Lookout Mountain, GA 30750 E-mail: chattfare@gmail.com