Never judge a chicken by the sell-by-date

Basic Crock Chicken

Well, the sell-by date for this lovely specimen was for today (sorry veggie readers!) and at a bargainous price of €2.50 that’s a lot of eating. So I portioned it up (legs,breasts,wings), drenched in lemon juice and black pepper and a little sweet paprika, fried them a little in some sunflower oil and threw them in the crockpot (carrots first, then onions, then chicken then liquids). This is an adapted “Simple Crock Chicken” recipe to what I had to hand:

  • 1 whole chicken cut up into parts and fried as described above
  • 2 big carrots, cut ridiculously chunky
  • 2 onions, cut into fine rings
  • 1 lemon
  • 7 sprigs of fresh thyme (minus the twigs)
  • a can of cider (minus two “tastes” ;) )
  • a mug of vegetable stock
  • a third of a mug of cold water

I often have discussions with some of my German colleagues, for whom cooking is more of an event than something they regularly do. They often are amazed at why my boyfriend and I choose to cook so much rather than, as they see it, choose to eat out and have more time to do other things. I recently read somewhere that for every dollar you spend on bought meals, 20c of that has actually gone on food. If you breakdown the cost, of this meal, feeding 2 people, twice for approx €5.35 ( €2.50 chicken + can of cider €1.40 + organic lemon 75c + fresh thyme 30c + onions 40c + carrots 30c). That’s about €1.30 a meal. More when I serve it with potatoes and spinach. But that would not even bring it to €2! If i’d have bought chicken thighs, the whole process would have been much quicker.

Secondly, which is actually the first priority, is how much better for your body it is. Sure you can pick up a hot lunch in the posh deli across the road and go about your things, but I begrudge paying almost €5 for a bit of pasta in a white sauce baked with feta cheese on top. I need vitamins! The cheaper lunchtime menus on offer just don’t have enough *food* in them for my liking, and I’d rather have a sandwich ;)

And by the way, by all means check the sell by date but don’t let it put you off buying it if it’s close to expiry, it can easily go in the freezer for another day if you don’t want to use it immediately.



  1. OMG it looks totally delicious! And it sounds like such an amazing flavor combination. I have to go see if thyme is on my allergy list or not… but I could always improvise with spices that I’m sure are safe. I would never think to use lemon or cider with chicken… I’m gonna have to try that!

    I generally grab up any organic meats that are near their sell by date, because it’s soooo much cheaper that way. Of course, one time I bought about 3 packages of chicken that way, and didn’t get around to trying to cook them until a day or two had passed. Alas, when I opened the package there was a HORRIBLE smell, so I had to toss them. Lesson learned… if you’re gonna shop that way, you’ve gotta cook it immediately!

    I’m surprised that the aversion to home cooking has spread to Germany… I guess I was sort of hoping it was just an American phenomenon. Sigh. My German step-mother is one of the most amazing cooks I know. Of course she grew up in post WWII Köln and her family was dirt poor, so I think it’s a skill she learned out of necessity.

  2. The bizzare thing is that the cider was more expensive than buying wine! LOL! So I will have a go at that the next time. I think with Germans and cooking, it’s a generational thing and I think it’s also perhaps something quite unique to Hamburg. When I lived in Berlin since people get paid much less (and everything costs much less) they tended to cook a bit more. And yes generally speaking, the older people still cook :) Post WWII Koeln must have been a dreadful place altogether :( I think those kind of hardships that the people had still have an effect on the general german mentality.

  3. That’s quite right! I like for eating out to be a treat and not a “necessity” or a kind of habit, if you know what I mean. Then I can enjoy it :)

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