Monday, March 22, 2010

feelin' thrifty? or three delicious meals from two chickens.... Part 1

in the interest of saving myself some money at the grocery store and keeping our meals healthy, i roast two chickens a week or every other week (which i assure you is very simple). we eat roast chicken the first night, and the next night i cook two meals at once, in order to eat one and freeze the other. it's surprisingly painless, delicious, cheap, and good for you. AND my kids like it, even my picky eaters. so here goes... this is part one, roasting the chickens and tomorrow i'll post part two, the two meals made from the leftovers. enjoy!

first, roasting a chicken is super easy and there's very little prep involved. so, if you're thinking that you don't have the skills for this, you're wrong. it's just a matter of getting over the yuck factor that so many of us americans have about touching a chicken carcass. be brave, your budget and your family will thank you. :)

2 whole roasting chickens
1 onion
6 or more cloves of garlic
1 small orange or tangerine
2 T. kosher salt
1 t. paprika
canola oil non-stick spray
1 large roasting pan, or two small pans big enough to fit one chicken each

first, spray pans with non-stick spray. cut onion into wedges. smoosh and peel garlic cloves. cut orange into large chunks. mix veggies and orange together in a small bowl and set aside. mix salt and paprika in a small dish and set aside.

next, remove the giblet package and neck from the inside of the chicken, if they're there. some chickens don't include the giblets and neck. set the chickens in the prepared pans. use a spoon, if this grosses you out. pat the chickens dry and stuff them with the veggie/orange mixture. use skin flaps around the opening to cover the stuffing.

then, generously spray the outside of the chickens with the canola spray and sprinkle the salt mixture over the two chickens. how much of the salt mixture you use, really depends on your own taste. i heavily salt it, because we don't typically eat the skin later anyway and the greater the salt on the outside, the greater the chance the salt will leech through to the meat underneath. cut a small piece of twine and use it to tie the two legs together on each chicken.

lastly, heat the oven to 4oo degrees and put them in the oven. let them cook for about 30 minutes to seal in the juices and then drop the temp to 350 degrees. let them cook until you get a temp reading of 180-185 on a meat thermometer inserted in the breast and thigh. if that's iffy, check to see how loose the thigh bone is. if a chicken is well-cooked (not overcooked) the thigh should easily pull away from the carcass when you pull on it. cooking time depends on the size of the birds. it can take anywhere between one hour to two hours, so read the instructions on the back of the chicken wrapper to check cooking times. i usually crack open my my favorite cookbook for a refresher, just to plan how early i need to put the chickens in the oven. when chicken is done, cover it loosely with foil and let it rest for about 5-10 minutes. it will continue to cook after it's out of the oven, so be careful not to overcook it.

while you wait for the chickens to finish roasting, you can prep and cook mashed potatoes or whatever else you'd like to round out your meal with.

eat and enjoy!

after dinner, pull any untouched meat off of the chicken carcasses and store it in the fridge for tomorrow. pull the stuffing out of the chicken carcasses and throw it away. dump the carcasses and any other bones into a large ziplock bag and put them in the fridge. pour any juices left in the pan into a dish with a lid. spoon out any fat that rises to the top and refrigerate the broth without the fat. if you won't be getting to any of this tomorrow, then freeze it instead. and pull it out whenever it's convenient. this sounds like a lot of work, but it's taken me longer to write what i did than it did to actually do it. all told, my prep time was about 15 minutes and there really isn't that much clean up.

tomorrow... chicken pot pie and chicken soup



  2. I have never cooked a whole chicken, but you are giving me the confidence to try. So I'm going to try it this week. I'll let you know how it goes. Thanks for the great post!