Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Roasted Chicken: The dinner that keeps on givin'

And now it's that time (again) where Kayte pretends like everyone cares what I feed my family. ☺

Cooking from scratch sounds really hard to some people. But, the benefits- healthier, cheaper, tastier- are worth the effort. Whenever possible, I try to cook a BIG batch when I do from scratch cooking. Why not? It isn't much more work at the time and will save lots of work later on. Thank goodness for freezers! ☺

A few years ago, I kept noticing whole chickens going on sale for 88 cents a pound. I passed it by, simply because I didn't really know what I would do with the thing if I did buy it! Finally, when it came on sale again, I decided it was time to learn how to roast a whole chicken. And if I'm gonna roast one, I might as well roast two! Last week, I bought these whole chickens for 77 cents a pound. Digging through the pile for the biggest ones, I bought one for $4.74 and one for $3.73. I plan to make the most of that $8.46...

Chicken Marinade:
1 cup Dijon mustard
1/2 soy sauce
1/2 lemon juice (save the lemons)
Whisk together.... (look at me- doing fancy sequence shots like a cool blogger... instead of the negligent blogger I actually am ☺)
Unpackage, rinse and pat dry the cute little birds. They are kinda cute, right? Even though they are dead. Resist the urge to name them. It'll make it awkard when you're eating them.☺ Into each bird's cavity, I stuffed the 4 lemon halves that I previously juiced, along with some poultry seasoning. Over the skin, I sprinkle sea salt and cracked pepper, then pour the marinade over, followed by a sprinkle of poultry seasoning. Into the larger of the the two, I inserted a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the breast. I set my thermometer to alarm when it reaches 180 degrees, which will take about 2 hrs.
Before setting the chickens into a 450 degree oven, I cover with foil, trying to create a tent to trap steam but without directly touching the chickens. Its easy on the bird with the thermometer in it... it serves as something to stick the foil to. It's harder on the other. After several frustrating minutes trying to create a tent on the second, I give up. Once you've got them looking nice and UFO-ish, put 'em in to bake. ☺ This is easy, right?
Now somehow my sequence shots went awry. Hmmm.... well the top picture shows them fresh out of the oven. Here, obviously, I carved out what my family would eat for dinner. We actually had leftovers from this serving plate, but wanted to be sure to have everyone's favorite peices.

So this is super easy so far.... the real work is after dinner. While we eat our moist and flavorful chicken (and sides), the remaining chicken cools off. Then I (with my hands) pull off every scrap of meat on those chickens. It is not glamorous. It's not gross either. Put on some happy music. It makes the whole thing better. ☺ And try to refrain from nibbling on chicken as you work. (Ok so maybe I did sample a little...)
What you end up with is a pile of delicious meat, a pile of skin/cartildge/unidentifiable chicken gunk.... and bones. The bones go into a BIG stock pot, along with some onion, carrot, celery, bay leaves, sea salt and cracked pepper. Fill pot (almost) with water. Bring it to a boil, then simmer for several hours. (I let mine go for 4 hours).
The beautiful meat gets pulled or cut into smaller chunks and packaged for future use. I put 1 tupperware in the fridge for the next evening's dinner (enchiladas!!!) and 2 bags into the freezer for super easy meals in the next couple of weeks. So many meals require cooked chicken; having it handy and ready to use is fantastic. Plus this chicken has been raosted on the bone so it's so moist and gooooooood.
And here is the waste pile. Maybe I am freakishly frugal but it makes me happy to see such a small amount not be usable.
After the broth simmers for hours and hours, allow it to cool. For me, it was bedtime, so I strained the broth into pitchers and put in the fridge. The next morning, I skimmed the fat off and poured into ice cube trays.
After freezing, I popped them into freezer bags. Here are 182 broth cubes. 2 cubes = 1/4 cup. So this is almost 23 cups of broth. Broth that I don't have to buy. Broth I don't have to figure out what to do with the rest of the can, or worry about the carton not being used before going bad. Broth that will defrost quickly. Broth that is healthy.

I think 4 meals main ingredient, plus loads of broth is worth a little time. It really isn't hard. And it really did taste great!

I'm looking for more ways to cook from scratch. Any good recipes/ideas, friends?



kauffeegrl said...

I love to use the leftover meat from a roasted chicken to make chicken noodle soup the next day, and my son LOVES it. He will even eat the carrots and celery I chop into it! But I do like your tips for stretching it even further with the broth cubes. Maybe our new place will have a bigger fridge/freezer. :-)

Mrs. Reverend Doctor said...

you should check out

Sheri Edwards said...

Love the ice cube idea....stealing it! :)
~ Sheri

~Amy~ said...

Bravo! I have done the whole cooking a couple of chickens thing, but never the broth...great idea. I do buy the College Inn broth at Sam's, but still, I could stand to be more frugal. ☺

emily said...

I love cooking or preparing extra to freeze for later, and this is a marvelous idea - thanks, Kayte! I make pizza from scratch, so I have started making enough dough for two pizzas, dividing it in half, and freezing one of the halves. I just make sure it's coated in oil and wrap it in plastic wrap or stick it in a freezer bag (I used to roll it out and bake it before I froze it, but it was hard to wrap and would get freezer burn). When I want to use the dough, I take it out late morning, put it in a bowl covered with a towel, and let it thaw/rise for several hours. I also, when making pizza pasta (which is my own lazy spin on lasagna with pepperoni, italian sausage, and a small pasta like penne instead of lasagne noodles), will make two dishes of it and freeze on of them, uncooked. Just take it out in time to give it enough time to thaw before you bake it. I can put together two of them with barely any more effort (or clean-up) than just doing one and the second one is great for a day when I don't have a lot of time. And, yes, some of us do care what you make for dinner - you have great ideas!

Joyful Blessings said...

Kayte, I was laughing so hard, you are so funny. Great job with the chickens they look so yummy. It is great that you can still find chickens the same price per pound that I bought them for 20 years ago. I did this all the time with our budget for years. I am tempted by the yummy chicken skin. lol You are a great cook.