Sunday, February 14, 2010

Doggie Stew

Its a strange feeling to have an entire day off without any real commitments aside from carrying the pager this weekend (on-call). I took advantage of the free time and went grocery shopping - it'd been about a month since my last grocery store run so I felt like I was out of everything - which happens when you don't shop very often.

I hadn't planned to make stew for the dogs today, but roasting chickens were on sale for $.49/lb - it was hard to pass them up. So I picked up two chickens (about 5lbs each) and the rest of the ingredients to make some stew for the dogs.

Back in the day when I was exclusively cooking for the dogs I had to be a lot more concerned about balanced nutrition and balanced fats and proteins. Since this was just a couple of days worth of dog food I skipped the weights and measures part of the preparation. If you have a dog with special dietary needs you should adapt this recipe as necessary.

You will need:
1 (or two) whole chickens (4-5lbs each)
2 cups pearled barley
2 cups lentils (I used orange lentils today)
1 lb frozen spinach
1 lb frozen carrots
6 eggs


Method:
Place chickens in a large pasta pot, fill pot with enough water to completely cover the chickens. Bring chicken to a boil, then turn heat down to medium and simmer chicken for 2-4 hours (covered). The idea here is to make one heck of a broth so check the pot often adding additional water as needed.

Evacuate chicken to a strainer retaining the broth. Allow chicken to cool before de-boning. Return broth to pasta pot, add carrots, lentils and barley and bring to boil. Boil for 5 minutes, cover and drop heat to simmer for 45-60 minutes.

The lentils and barley should have adsorbed most of the broth, add the deboned chicken, thawed spinach and eggs. Stir to combine. Serve at room temperature.

Chicken can be replaced with turkey, lamb, fish or beef. I once made some venison stew for Murphy when I was gifted a hunk of a whitetail deer. Twice I tried this recipe with a whole turkey and struggled with bits and pieces of turkey in several pots. Not to mention the actual process of cutting a whole turkey into pieces to fit in my pasta pot! The barley and lentils can be substituted by oatmeal, pasta, rice or quinoa.

For my two guys this recipe makes approximately 4 days of dog food, depending on what else they're eating and how much they're training. It's easily digestible (at least for my guys) so I can swap it in for a day or two without any transition of their current food (currently that's Honest Kitchen Keen). It also freezes well.

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