Friday, May 6, 2011

How to make one whole chicken into over 6 meals.

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First, off start by cooking a whole chicken. We usually take out the giblets and rinse everything. Then place it all in a roasting pan with a few potatoes, carrots, an onion cut in half and a head of garlic cut in half. We stuff a few tablespoons of butter under the breast skin, and again baste the skin with butter. Its a good idea to season the skin after basting, we use salt and pepper, but the addition of lemon thyme or sage is great. We also pour water or chicken stock into the cavity to make it more moist. Now you seal the top with tin foil, make it a nice seal around the baking dish, it really helps keep the bird moist. We usually bake it at 350 degrees for 1.5 to 2 hours covered, and then another 15 minutes on broil. Finally, it's time for dinner (this is the first meal). Then the next two nights (meals two and three) we either re-heat it in the oven and have the same thing or cut pieces off to add to other meals.

The next morning we pick off all the rest of the meat and seperate it into meal sized portions in freezer bags. This time I only got three bags (meals four, five, and six). You can skip this step and just move forward to the next if you think its gross. It is gross to pick a chicken but I usually use gloves and I've become used to doing it.

Then you add your mirepoix to a large pot. A mirepoix is a combination of onions, carrots, and celery, I also add three or four bay leaves and ten to twelve whole black pepper kernels. It doesn't need to be chopped perfectly, I just break the celery ribs to fit into the pot along with the carrots (I only had baby carrots on hand this morning, so I used them instead of whole) and cut off the ends of the onion. You are now making chicken stock. :)

Add in the chicken carcass, juices and any other left overs from the roasting pan. Then cover with water and bring to a boil. I really like using my pasta pot to make stock because when your done you can just pull all of the bones, veggies, etc. up and out instead of trying to use a strainer.

Once boiling reduce to a simmer for at least 4-5 hours. I usually cook it all day, the longer it cooks the more rich and healthy it will be. Once it has finished cooking, strain out bones, veggies, etc., cover and place in the fridge over night. In the morning scrap off all fat and taste. I sometimes have to reduce it down even more for a richer stock, which usually means about 2 or more hours of simmering.

We then pressure can or freeze the stock and use it to make more meals, almost every time we make rice we use chicken stock instead of water to cook it in. Voila! You have made one chicken into over 6 healthy home-made meals, now sit back and put your feet deserve it!

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