Making the most of a whole chicken
When chicken first started being consumed it was first considered a delicacy, and then a luxury for wealthier families. Cut to 2018 and the humble chicken is ubiquitous, alongside some dubious farming practices.
We are being told to eat less meat, and when we do, instructed to buy higher welfare meat products that sometimes cost significantly more. What does this mean for the average family on a budget?
In our household we have cut down on the meat we purchase each week, which means when we make our trip to the butcher, we can afford to invest in a quality free-range or organic product.
The second thing we try and do is pick cuts of meat that go beyond just one meal, and can either be used for leftovers, or re-imagined in a new dish. And there’s nothing better for this than a whole chicken. Leftover meat can be used for a number of different dishes, and the carcass used for a nutritious chicken stock.
There is a myriad of ideas online for chicken, but below is my simple plan for getting 3 meals for 2 adults and 2 children out of one big bird!
- Buy a larger free-range or organic chicken direct from your butcher or farmers market – I tend to go for one that’s close to 2 kilos.
- Roast the chicken. If you want the simplest method, stick it in the oven at 180 degrees for 1 1/2 hours. It will be ready when the juices run clear from the thigh.
- Serve only the breast meat for your first meal. If you slice it thinly you’ll find it goes further, and supplement it with some cooked brown rice, roasted sweet potato, and braised silverbeet or spinach for a substantial meal.
- The next day (or the same night if you’re feeling motivated) remove the rest of the meat from the chicken. Cover the carcass with cold water and whatever vegetables you have in the fridge and simmer for 1-2 hours. Strain your stock into a jug. You should get 1-2 litres.
- Use half your stock and the leftover meat to make a simple chicken noodle soup. Experiment with gluten-free buckwheat noodles, and enhance the flavour of the stock with ginger, garlic, and lemongrass. Top with a poached egg if you so desire.
- For your last meal, use the remaining stock for a basic risotto. You’ll find that homemade stock is so flavoursome that you don’t need to overburden your risotto with ingredients. Use frozen peas and some parmesan for a child-friendly and affordable meal.
By Victoria Thaine,