One thing we are trying to do is eat less meat and poultry so that when do eat it, we can eat better quality meat, To make this more doable, I have been learning to roast chicken and then make stock from the carcass. I also save the leftover meat and either make chicken salad or freeze it to use in soup, a casserole, pot pie, or something else like chicken fajitas or tacos in the future. So, I may pay $8 for a good chicken, but I get several meals out of it because I use the entire bird. Chicken stock is full of nourishment, and roasting a whole bird is much more cost effective than buying chicken breasts. I am sure I'll still buy chicken breasts from time to time, but I'm trying to be more frugal in this area.
I hope this is helpful. For some reason, roasting a chicken was always intimidating to me, and it seems that sometimes in the past I've had to cook it for longer to get the meat to the correct temperature. However, I really liked the directions for how I most recently roasted it where I cooked it on a higher temperature for part of the time before reducing the heat, and I found it cooked more quickly. Cooking chicken stock might sound intimidating or time consuming, but I assure you that it is not. Adding the raw cider vinegar just draws more nutrients out of the bone, and then letting it simmer in water with some vegetables is just an easy thing to have in the crock pot (I've cooked it on the stove before as well, but I feel that I can come and go more safely if it's in the crock pot). Straining it takes very little time, and like I said, I didn't even skim the fat off because I didn't have that much come up. And I love having leftover chicken on hand for some future meals. It's much nicer than having to pay a high price for chicken breasts that are just going to get boiled and chopped up,
So, all that said, here is what I am doing.
First, roast the chicken...
I adapted a recipe from Cooking Light
The nice thing about roasting chicken is that you can add whatever herbs and spices you want. Don't worry about the exact amounts, these are just estimates.
I N G R E D I E N T S :
1 small roasting chicken (3-5 pounds)
2 cloves garlic
juice of one lemon
2-3 Tbsp. XVOO
1/4 cup white cooking wine
1/4 cup fresh parsley (or 2 Tbsp. dried)
1 Tbsp. fresh oregano (or 1-2 tsp. dried)
1 Tbsp. fresh basil (or 1-2 tsp. dried)
3 Tbsp. fresh rosemary (or 2-3 tsp. dried)
1 tsp. fresh thyme (or 1/4 tsp. dried)
1 tsp. kosher or sea salt
1 tsp. freshly grated black pepper
1 Tbsp. paprika for sprinkling over top before roasting
1 tsp. kosher salt + 1 tsp. black pepper for sprinkling over top before roasting
D I R E C T I O N S :
Preheat oven to 450.
Remove and discard giblets and neck from chicken. Rinse chicken with cold water, pat dry.
Starting at neck cavity, loosen skin from breast and drumsticks by inserting fingers, gently pushing between skin and meat.
Combine all other ingredients (besides the paprika and final amounts of salt and pepper) into a food processor, and blend together for the seasoning. Rub seasoning mixture under loosened skin and drumsticks, then on top of both sides of the entire chicken and inside the cavity.
Place chicken breast side up on a rack in a roasting pan. Lift wing tips up and over back, and if you want, you can also tie the ends of the legs with some cord (I didn't have any cord and it's not necessary, but it does look nice if you want to do the extra step). Finish by sprinkling paprika, salt, and pepper over the top of the chicken. Pierce chicken several times with a fork.
Insert a meat thermometer into thickest part of thigh, making sure to not touch the bone.
Bake at 450 degrees F for 30 minutes, and then reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F (do not remove chicken from oven) for 45 additional minutes. If chicken is getting too done on top, tent it with foil. Bake until the thermometer registers 165 degrees F in the thickest part of the thigh, but not touching a bone. Cover chicken loosely with foil, let stand 10 minutes. Discard skin (I save it for the broth). Remove chicken from pan; place on a serving platter.
Next, save leftover the leftover meat...
Remove all remaining meat from the bone. You can use this for chicken salad (great for lunch), or you can freeze it and have it on hand for a soup, casserole, or other type dish down the road. I place it in a freezer bag and label it. Sometimes I have a lot, and other times not as much, depending on the size of the chicken and how hungry we were at dinner. But even 1 cup is great to keep for adding to a dish down the road.
Now, for the homemade chicken stock...
Here are two articles on the benefits of homemade bone broth.
I make the stock similar to the directions in the above link, first letting it sit covered in cold water with 1 Tbsp. raw cider vinegar for an hour. Then, I add either 1 huge carrot or 2-3 regular ones, 1 onion, and 3 stalks of celery, all chopped up into large chunks. You can also add a clove or two of garlic, but I didn't do that this time. Then, I add 2-3 bay leaves, some parsley, and thyme (I only had dried thyme so I just sprinkled some in). Cook on low in a crockpot for 8-10 hours. Strain in a colander or mesh sieve to remove the gross stuff and chunks of meat, bones, and vegetables, and skim some fat off the top if there is a lot (I didn't really have to do that). Then divide into portions for storing. You can put some in ice cube trays, some in 1-2 cup portions, or even in mason jars or leftover yogurt or other plastic food containers. You can also store them in 1-2 cup portions in freezer bags. Label stock and freeze until you need some for a recipe! I have only done this twice in the past month, and look at all the stock I have. This will be great for soups or adding some into recipes.