One of my favorite ways to tighten my weekly grocery budget is to buy a whole chicken. I can purchase a fresh, naturally raised 2 to 3 pound whole chicken for $16 or under. With the help of some inexpensive produce and spices, I turn this meaty bird into a low-fat feast one night and a hearty soup the next, with lunches to spare. It’s amazing how simple these meals are to prepare and just how much money you can save by utilizing the full bird.
Step 1: Juicy Roasted Chicken
I’ve tried other, more enhanced recipes for roast chicken but always enjoy this simple route to a juicy bird, with crisp skin. The butter, in this recipe, bastes the bird, the celery adds moisture and the onion powder creates a crisp outer skin. Add salt and pepper amounts to your own taste and, if available, sprinkle some fresh thyme.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
- Place chicken in a roasting pan, and season generously inside and out with salt and pepper. Sprinkle inside and out with onion powder. Place 3 tablespoons butter in the chicken cavity. Rub dollops of the remaining butter on the chicken’s exterior. Cut the celery into 6″ pieces, and place in the chicken cavity.
- Bake uncovered 1 hour and 15 minutes in the preheated oven, to a minimum internal temperature of 180 degrees F (82 degrees C). Remove from heat, and baste with melted butter and drippings. If you don’t have a turkey baster, simply use a spoon to spread the liquid across the top. Cover with aluminum foil, and allow to rest about 30 minutes before serving.
Once rested and cooled enough to handle, take your chef’s knife and carve the breast, thigh and drumstick. For a demonstration on where to cut, check out this video. Serve your chicken meat with roasted vegetables, potatoes, fries, a large salad or solo if your heart so desires. This week I placed the breast and wing on top of a Quinoa Tabouli. The meal was delicious, fresh and healthy. For my serving, I removed the skin and ate only the breast meat, creating a fulfilling plate for with only 500 calories.
Step 2: Quinoa Tabouli w/ Roasted Chicken Dinner
Makes 4 to 6 servings.
You can let the tabouli sit in the refrigerator for a day to blend flavors. Tabouli is traditionally served at room temperature so remove from fridge 30 to 60 minutes before serving.
Finish this meal with my home-style apple crisp. Mmmm mmm mmmmmmm… Now that is some fine home-cookin’.
Step 3: Pressure Cooker Chicken Stock
Makes approx. 6 cups of stock
So you’ve blown the family away with your chicken roasting talents and now it’s time to clean up. Before you start dumping all of the discarded meat and bones into the compost bin, think stock. A good stock is the staple of all amazing soups and stews and we just discovered the world’s simplest and quickest route to making it happen: the pressure cooker. Sure, this new kitchen tool has changed our soup creating lives but there’s nothing wrong with the classic stock pot, it will just take you longer to achieve similar outcomes.
- Pull all of the remaining meat off the chicken bones. Get your fingers in there and get messy. Put meat in a bowl or Tupperware. Cover and refrigerate.
- Combine all ingredients in the pressure cooker.
- Lock the lid in place and bring to pressure, then lower the heat and cook for about 30 minutes.
- Remove the pressure cooker from the hot burner and let the pressure drop by cooling down naturally.
- Remove the lid and strain by pouring it through a strainer which has been lined with a couple of layers of damp cheesecloth, damp kitchen towel or damp paper towels. Press with the back of a wooden spoon to extract as much liquid as possible.
- Cool, then refrigerate overnight and remove any congealed fat that has collected on the surface.
Step 4: Make a Killer Chicken Noodle Soup
You just can’t beat a homemade chicken noodle soup on a cold, winter day. My kids love egg noodles so I tend to load our soups with them (as pictured) but recommend the 1 1/2 cups in the recipe. This is a very basic version of chicken noodle soup- just like Grams used to make. With a full flavour stock and staples of carrot, celery and chicken, feel free to add your own signature with some fresh herbs like parsley, basil and thyme and enhance with vegetables like spinach, kale, peas, etc.. Proving, yet again, that as long as your fundamental base ingredients are fresh and delicious, you are free to have fun creating.
Grandma’s Chicken Noodle Soup
Makes about 8 hearty bowls
- 1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add egg noodles and oil, and boil for 8 minutes, or until tender. Drain, and rinse under cool running water. Set aside.
2. In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, combine broth, salt, and poultry seasoning. Bring to a boil. Stir in celery and onion. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer 15 minutes.
3. In a small bowl, mix cornstarch and water together until cornstarch is completely dissolved. Gradually add to soup, stirring constantly. Stir in noodles and chicken, and heat through.
Serve with a crusty bread and take in the admiration your family has for you. Enjoy!
Note: there is no rush to prepare these dishes. You can freeze the leftover chicken meat and leftover soup and a friend just mentioned how much she is enjoying freezing her stock in ice cube trays. 3 cubes = 1 cup and you always have delicious stock on hand. Brilliant!