A whole roasted chicken is such a lovely thing, and if you plan just a little you can get so much from one simple bird. A big part of minimalism and frugal living for me is using everything you can and minimizing waste. I prefer whole chickens to chicken parts, they are usually less expensive per pound and much tastier.
Here’s how I make the most of one modest chicken:
Of course the first thing I do is bake the chicken. I usually toss in some vegetables and loads of garlic (save any veggie ends, you’ll need them later, set aside some garlic for later too). Then I generously massage butter all over the bird and add a little water to the pan, I also salt the bird using kosher sea salt. I like to keep the chicken fairly pure flavor wise because I use it for so many things. I bake it on 375 uncovered for about an hour, then I baste it and bake at 400 until done. It really couldn’t be easier!
Once the bird is cooled, I carve it. The night that I make the chicken I always serve a simple dinner like this one with vegetables, couscous, and crispy moist chicken!
Once we’re done enjoying our first simple chicken dinner, I carve out the breasts and other large meaty chunks and put them in a container in the fridge.
Next, I pick the last of the white meat off the chicken (usually using my fingers). That chicken gets put in a separate container because it becomes…
Sandwiches for the fella’s lunch! I usually squeeze two large sandwiches out of the last pickings from a single chicken. Little things like this add up. Many people would toss out the carcass without getting every little piece of meat, but by taking just a little care I essentially found a way to give the fella 2 free lunches. His favorite is when I make a little homemade BBQ sauce and toss the chicken in that before piling it on a bun with relish, shredded lettuce, and mayo.
The next thing I do is get a huge stockpot. I toss in all the odds and ends of veggies that I have, then toss in the entire chicken carcass, fill the pot with water and begin to heat. I have used onions, leeks, celery, carrots, garlic, rosemary, thyme, etc.
Then I just boil the heck out of it for hours and hours. I continue adding in water as it evaporates, and I usually let it simmer on low for about 4 hours. It’s easy though because it’s not like you’re actually cooking for 4 hours, you just have to check it every 30 minutes or so and top it off.
Eventually the chicken stock is done so I drain it using a colander that sits inside of another pot – that way the bones and dried herbs are removed. I pour it into mason jars (leaving space, it will expand a little). Once it is totally cool I cap them and put them in the fridge. The stock becomes very gelatinous. To use it, I boil water and scoop it in and mix it well (like you’re using a soup concentrate). Different birds make different flavors, you can add your fresh bouillon by taste test.
In general I think 1 jar of chicken bouillon makes about 3 cups of stock. I will use this stock for soups, sauces, cooking vegetables, and making gravy for the next couple of weeks (until I bake another whole chicken)! Bone stock is very nutritious, I always make a big batch of Sweet Potato Bisque after getting my stock. I simply use 1 jar of bouillon, 3 cups of water, 1 peeled and roughly chopped sweet potato, and cinnamon to taste. I boil it all until the sweet potato is soft, then I puree it with my immersion blender. I serve it warm in mugs, it’s wonderful to have a nice big slurp of it after coming in from the cold weather.
The last of the chicken that was portioned and put in the fridge either gets eaten as is with some classic vegetable side dishes, or gets shredded and combined with jalapenos, pineapple, and black beans to make enchiladas! Shredding the chicken stretches it further than eating it in large pieces, so I usually take that route with at least half of it.
So there you have it, one chicken helps me create:
- 5 Jars of Homemade Bouillon
- 2 Big BBQ Chicken Sandwiches
- 2 Classic Chicken Roast Dinners for Two
- 3 Chicken Enchilada Dinners for Two (Or burritos!)