Better than the real thing

Chicken Parmesan
Having been mostly vegetarian for some 15 years, I am well versed in the ways of substitution. Non-meat eaters often have to go to great lengths to satisfy their protein cravings. Many meat substitute products are frighteningly bad (vegetarian bacon? No thank you …), but sometimes, these products actually excel: To this day DPaul and I still purchase veggie dogs (Yves brand are a particular favorite), and I am here to tell you that vanilla Tofutti Cuties truly are better than the real thing.

Giving up meat was one thing, but most recipes that eschew natural fats or sugars leave me utterly cold. It's not that I don't appreciate the desire to reduce calories and cholesterol (having, as I do, hereditary hypercholesteremia), but all too often these sacrifices are made at too high a price.

But once in a while, a recipe comes along that changes the way I think about low-whatever foods. It is, after all, possible to rethink a recipe totally, deconstruct it and rethink its elements, and return a newly engineered product that surpasses its predecessor. And thanks to America's Test Kitchen, chicken parmesan has been born again.

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Chicken stock

Chickenstock2 Chicken stock: The mother’s milk of cooking. It is the most fundamental ingredient besides the water it’s made from. It makes everything better, lending a depth of flavor and subtle unctuousness to soups and sauces. It is the very embodiment of home cooking, and its aroma makes the home more homey. And I love making it.

Since we fairly frequently roast chicken, we almost always have at least one carcass in the freezer. (Right now, in fact, we have two.) We would very often also keep a running baggie full of vegetable cuttings, offcasts from various meals, building up in the fridge. When the veggie bag was full and a carcass was at the ready, it was time to make stock. However, since living in our current place, where we have a garbage disposal, I am chagrinned to say that we bow to convenience and seldom optimize our kitchen scraps the way we used to. Meh, it’s optional.

Making stock is simplicity itself. Though it takes a fair amount of time, the labor is minimal, and you’ll feel great about squeezing the last drops of vitality out of your carcasses and cuttings.

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