As I stood in the grocery aisle not that long ago I overheard two women talking about what a waste it was to buy a whole chicken and it dawned on me that most people don’t realize the benefits AND cost saving that goes into using a whole chicken. I’ve kind of made that my mission when the topic of chicken comes up and what I hear most is “I don’t have time for that”… but you do because it will save you time in the long run.
We, as a family of four can get about 4+ meals out of one whole chicken! That’s pretty good for a $10 investment. I always look for the natural chicken on sale and freeze them or wait for a sale at Whole Foods. When we are in a hurry, we even buy the natural rotisserie chicken at the grocery store for quick meals. I do find that these chickens are a whole lot smaller than ones that you roast yourself. When you do go this route, DO NOT THROW THE BONES AWAY!! I’ll explain that part later.
One day we will raise chickens for meat, we just aren’t quite there yet….maybe next year. 😉
The best way to get the most out of your chicken is to first roast it. If you work outside of the home, I would suggest doing this on a Saturday afternoon because it takes about 15 minutes of prep and 1.5 hours of cooking. Heck, while you’re at it, roast two and you’ll have meals all week long!
1 Natural whole chicken
Method of Prep: Pre-heat oven on to 425 degrees. Place your chicken in a roasting pan (preferably on a roasting rack), remove giblets from inside. Save the neck for stock. Rub your chicken with olive oil, salt, pepper, thyme leave and lemon juice. Place used lemon and thyme sprigs/branches inside chicken.
Oven sear at 425 for 15-20 minutes then reduce heat to 375 and cook until golden brown. Should be about 1.5 hours. Temp breast at 180 and thigh (near the bone) at 190.
Let it cool for a few minutes. Remove the breasts and serve with your favorite sides, rice, potatoes, vegetables, or over salad. Yum!
Meal one done!
Pick the remainder of the chicken from the bones after your roast chicken dinner and place in a plastic bag for another meal. Perhaps some:
Chicken Quesadillas/Burrito/Rice bowl
One organic diced onion
3 cloves organic diced garlic
Organic Black beans
Frozen organic corn
Leftover cooked organic rice
Saute Onion and Garlic in a a little olive oil. Add leftover chicken, rice, corn and beans when onions are translucent. Add some mexican spices, cumin, coriander, chili power, whatever you’ve got. Heat it all up together.
Place in a bowl or tortilla and top with cheese, sour cream and salsa. Eat!
Chicken Fried Rice
Leftover organic cooked rice
3 organic eggs
Frozen organic peas, pea pods, carrots, broccoli, mushrooms whatever you’ve got on hand
Method of prep: in a large sauté pan or wok, heat up 2 Tbl olive oil and 1t sesame oil. Sauté onion until translucent. Add eggs and scramble in the pan until just cooked. Remove eggs and onions. Add a bit more oil, sauté any frozen vegetables and add chicken heat until warm then add rice. Heat the rice and add soy sauce to taste. Finally add scrambled eggs in the end.
Mix it all up and you have another dinner! Takes maybe 20 minutes to make and is such a comfort type food. 🙂
If you do cook 2 chickens, you will have enough of the dark meat to throw in a slow cooker with some salsa or bbq sauce to make some great pulled chicken for later in the week! So many choices!
Meal three…maybe even four…
I would suggest starting this on a Sunday morning on the stove or in a large slow cooker. Your home will smell amazing! There are so many vitamins and amino acids that come from making your own stock that the grocery store options don’t have plus, you are using an item that you have already paid for! Whenever I have bones left over, I save them, freeze them and pull them out when I want to make soup. I also make LARGE batches and freeze or can the extra stock so when we need a meal in a hurry, all we have to do is add veggies, pasta, rice, beans whatever is in the pantry or leftover in the fridge not to mention the flavor and extras that you get when cooking a batch of rice using your own stock, it’s amazing! When you refrigerate your stock, you will have a nice float of chicken fat on top…save it for a bonus meal 5!
You can add fresh chopped or frozen veggies and pasta for a quick dinner. You can even save some chicken to add back into the soup.
Bonus Meal 5…..
Once we’ve eaten chicken rice, noodle, veg soup for a few days we get a little sick of it, I turn it into a chicken ala king or chicken pot pie. Bring your soup to a simmer while you make a roux.
Take the chicken fat and flour, equal parts and make a roux(thickening agent) with it.
Heat 6 tbsp. of chicken fat over medium heat until it is completely melted.
Whisk in 6 tbsp. of all-purpose flour. You should have a slightly grainy mixture.
Simmer the roux, whisking constantly, for six to eight minutes for a blond roux. The roux will expand and thicken as you simmer it, but it will gradually decrease in thickness the longer you cook it. If the roux begins to burn or turn brown too quickly, reduce the heat. Remove half of your finished roux (incase you have too much, you can always add more if you need it)
Take a little bit of your soup stock and whisk into the pan with the roux to temper the two together. Then slowly whisk in the roux and stock mixture into the rest of your soup. Bring to a boil. It should be the consistency of a thick gravy, if it isn’t, add a bit more roux and boil again. Chill and serve over rice, in crocks with pie shell top or in a pie shell for a traditional pot pie. I freeze these pot pies and pop them into the oven when I don’t want to cook. 🙂
And, THAT is how you use a whole chicken, grocery store ladies! 😉