(PHNO) By Sol Jose Vanzi - Today’s big crisis: noche buena and Christmas family reunion meals while on a very tight budget. This poser is a real challenge, with beef prices approaching P300/kilo, good pork parts at P180/kilo, and choice chicken portions at P150/kilo.

Here is a solution. Buy one lechon manok and cook it 4 ways.

Purchase the cooked roast chicken from the supermarket, where they cost only P140, much cheaper than Andoks which now costs P220 each.

Cut up the chicken, separating the parts. The breast, deboned, will go into Chicken ala King on Pasta. Neck, backbone and wings are for Paella. Legs, deboned, will stuff Shawarma. And the bones (from breast and legs) will flavor Minestrone soup.

Chicken ala King

1 cup sliced onions
½ cup each sliced mushrooms, celery, carrot, green and red pepper (optional)
1 can condensed cream of mushroom soup
1 chicken cube
2 tbsp cornstarch dissolved in ½ cup water
Salt and pepper
Shredded or grated cheese
Green onions, parsley or kintsay for garnish

Stir-fry one cup sliced onions in 3 tablespoons of oil over a medium flame. At this point, you may add sliced celery, carrots, green and red pepper. When the onions turn a pale amber color, pour in one can condensed cream of mushroom soup, 2 cups water and 1 chicken cube. Stir to break up lumps. Thicken with corn starch dissolved in a little water. Taste and season with salt and ground pepper. Add shredded cheese and immediately mix with the boiled spaghetti or flat noodles. Garnish with sliced parsley, kintsay or green onions, and serve with additional grated cheese on the side.


4 ¼ cup 1 kilo rice
3 tbsp minced garlic
1 cup chopped onions
4 cups water
1 chicken or pork cube
3 tbsp atsuete, mashed in ½ cup water to extract color
1 kilo small clams or mussels
Strips of green and red pepper
Salt and pepper Neck, backbone, wings of roast chicken (cut up)

Heat the oil at the bottom of a thick covered pot. Stir-fry the raw, unwashed rice until the grains turn white. Add garlic and onion, continue stirring until onion is transparent. Carefully pour in 4 cups water and the crushed pork or chicken cube, the atsuete liquid,
1 tablespoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper. Stir thoroughly and cover. Cook over very low heat for 20 minutes. Add clams, cover again. After 5 minutes, stir in the sliced peppers. Cover and turn off heat. Serve topped with the reserved chicken parts and sliced hard cooked eggs. Some cooks offer sliced lemons or calamansi with the paella.

Chicken Shawarma

Meat from roast chicken legs, cut into strips
1 cup shredded cheese
2 cups sliced fresh tomatoes
1 cup sliced onions
2 cups shredded lettuce or cabbage
1 cup cucumber, sliced into sticks
1 cup garlic sauce (recipe follows)
Bottled hot sauce
10 pcs Arabic flat bread (available at supermarket and shawarma shops)

Arrange the bowls of vegetables and chicken strips around a plate of Arabic bread. The bread should be heated briefly over a very hot stove and covered with a cloth napkin to keep warm and pliable. Each diner assembles his own shawarma, first by spreading a little garlic sauce over the bread and then piling vegetables, cheese and chicken in the center of the bread. More sauce is sprinkled, and the whole thing is rolled just like a lumpia. A bottle of hot sauce should be at the table for those who like them spicy.

Garlic Sauce

This is a frugal version of the original yogurt garlic sauce. Chill one small can evaporated milk. Shake well and pour into a bowl. Whip in 2 tablespoons calamansi or lemon juice until the milk thickens. Add 1 tablespoon grated garlic. Continue stirring to blend. This sauce is best made several hours ahead and kept in the fridge until serving time.


Bones from the roasted chicken
½ cup each diced Potatoes, carrots, celery, green and red peppers
1 small can green peas (gisantes), drained
1 pork or chicken cube
¼ kilo shell or small elbow macaroni
½ cup grated or shredded cheese
Evaporated milk (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste

Simmer bones in 15 cups water for about an hour. Strain and discard solids. Return strained broth to soup pot. Add potatoes, onions, carrots, celery, peas, peppers and 1 pork or chicken cube and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the pasta and continue cooking until pasta is tender, about 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve in bowls topped with shredded or grated cheese. There are Filipinos who like a touch of milk in the soup, too.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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