Today, I'm going to share how I can take 8 bucks worth of meat and make three meals out of it. This is a lesson straight out of Thrifty Living 101, and one I wish I'd learned a lot sooner than I did! For years, I wouldn't eat chicken off the bone. And for many of those same years, I believed chicken was an expensive meal, and Hamburger Helper was a budget-friendlier option! Tsk, tsk. Little did I know!
Fast forward to present the day, and you'll find me roasting whole chickens all winter long. It's a little more work, sure- and I had to get over my hangups about my food still actually looking like the animal it used to be... That aside, I'm surprised how simple it is to prepare and roast a chicken.
First, I preheat the oven to 425 degrees. While it's heating, I prepare my rub. This time, I used a simple mixture of three Tbsps. melted butter, 1 Tbsp. salt, 1 Tbsp. poultry seasoning and 1/2 Tbsp. pepper.
This is the part that turned me off whole chickens for the longest time. You gotta just take a deep breath and dig in here- literally and figuratively. Or, just pick the right package and it'll be really easy!
Many supermarket whole chickens still have all their innards intact. Yes, that means you've gotta scoop out the guts. I say that for the purpose of disclosure, now- don't get all icked out and come back yelling at me because I'm just going to say, "I told you so."
My saving grace here is Harvestland chickens- Hallelujah and Amen. That's my endorsement! They're a little pricier than the other brands, but I'm much more confident about the product I'm getting. AND. They've already gutted that bad boy for you- all you've gotta do is reach in and pull out the (neatly packaged/sealed) bag with the gizzard parts. Do whatever your heart desires with that- I choose to toss it, because I don't plan to eat it.
Now, rub that little lady down with your butter mixture, put her in a roasting pan and pop her in the oven! Martha Stewart, Ina Garten, and crew will tell you to tuck the wings a certain way and tie the legs together and whatnot, but I never do. I just slide the chicken in the oven and wait about ninety minutes.
After an hour and 1/2, pull the chicken out of the oven and stick a thermometer into meat between the thigh and leg. If the internal temperature of the chicken has reached 180 degrees, you're good to go!
There are lots of variations to the roast chicken standard: it's such a versatile meal. I chose a basic rub for this chicken because I planned to take it apart and use it in a couple of different recipes, so I didn't want any of my flavors to clash with one another! I pulled all the meat off the bone, throwing the parts I won't eat into my crockpot as I went. I divided the meat into two portions, so I was able to use it in two different casseroles (which basically fed our whole family for almost a week!)
I told you I can make three meals out of one chicken. The best part about using whole chickens is making homemade chicken broth! After I've divided the bones into the crockpot, I cover them with about 8 cups of water, 1 cup each of onions and celery, and two whole carrots. I simmer that on low overnight, or 6-8 hours. Then I strain the solid parts out of the broth, discard them, and then allow the remaining broth to cool before ladling it into Ziploc bags which get tossed into the freezer. We love to eat soup, and this homemade stock makes a perfect soup base!
I'm probably going to make soup for dinner tonight, and I'm so thankful for the chicken broth we have stashed in the freezer! This time of year, we eat soup almost weekly. All my boys love a kale and sausage soup, but I'm partial to chicken and rice soup served with big fat yeast rolls. What about you?