Challenge: how far can I stretch the humble roast chook?
A little while ago I picked up a bargain Steggles family roast whole chicken from the meat department. It was a large 2.9kg and was on super-special for $3/kg. It went in the shopping trolley quick smart, and then popped into the freezer for a future thrifty meal.
This last weekend I cooked the chicken and we had a beautiful roast with roast potatoes, pumpkin and carrots, peas and corn, Yorkshire pudding and gravy. Yum. Even though I was feeding 2 adults, a tween who eats like an adult and 2 kids, I only used one chicken breast and the 2 drumsticks as we had so many veggies with it. So, I had lots of chicken leftover.
A couple of handy tips when you’ve made a roast chicken:
Keep the juices in the bottom of the chicken’s roasting pan. It’s a mixture of beautiful stock and fat. You can make a gravy from stock, just skim the fat off the top before using. If you don’t want to make a gravy, you can pour the juices straight into a container and keep in the fridge for use another day. The two liquids will separate and solidify in the container when they’re cold. The fat can then be used to cook other meats or vegies, and the solidified stock can be used to make a sauce (see below), or added wherever you would use chicken stock.
Keep the carcass. The chicken carcass can be used to make a delicious stock. Check out our post here on how to make it. If you don’t have time, wrap it in a freezer bag and freeze for up to 3 months. You can make the stock at a later date, there’s also no need to defrost before cooking.
The best thing to do with leftover chicken is to pick all the meat off the carcass while it’s still slightly warm as it’s harder to do when it’s cold. It’s also more appealing to use up if you have a container of chicken meat ready to go in the fridge, rather than a half-eaten bird wrapped in clingwrap.
For lunch the next day, we used a some of the chicken on homemade pizzas. I used some wraps as the base, topped with a dollop of passata, scattered the chicken, some salami, mushrooms and topped with cheese. Super easy.
When I made the roast, I cooked extra vegetables and Yorkshire to give me enough leftovers to create another meal. We call this ‘bubble and squeak’ which is not entirely accurate, but it’s all the leftovers chopped into bite-size pieces and fried gently to heat through. It’s heaped into a bowl with leftover gravy poured over the top. It might not look like 5-star dinner, but it is super tasty. This used up another small handful of chicken meat. Another alternative would be to make it into a chicken and veg pie. Simply mix the vegetables in a little leftover gravy, add a handful of chicken meat and pop it into a pie tin. Top with pastry, brush with beaten egg and bake at 200°C for around 30 minutes or until golden.
Next up, were wraps the next day. School lunches were a little bit of leftover chicken, lots of lettuce, cheese and mayo. Classic. I heated my wrap, chicken and aioli in the microwave first, then added the lettuce and some homegrown cherry tomatoes. OMG, it was so good!
Now, dinner was a bit of an experiment. I cooked some bacon, added the solidified stock (approx. 2 tablespoons) and heated gently. Added some cream, a handful of chicken meat, some baby spinach and seasoned with salt and pepper. Tossed in some homemade pasta and served with some chopped parsley from the garden. It was delicious, but I made way too much pasta!
The final remnants of chicken meat were turned into a chicken noodle soup. I made a stock with the carcass (recipe here). Cooked lots of risoni pasta and added it to the liquid. I chopped the last of the chicken into small pieces, and added it to the soup along with some sweetcorn. I then portioned the soup into single serves, popped it into plastic containers and froze. Super simple, super easy and perfect for the cooler weather ahead as a warm lunch, or as a comforting soup for the inevitable winter sniffles.
When storing the chicken in the fridge, I always keep it in a plastic container for up to 3 days. If it hasn’t been eaten by the end of day 3, wrap it tightly in a freezer bag or clingwrap and pop it into the freezer to use up another day. Even if it’s just a small portion, don’t waste it, they’re perfect to add to a homemade pizza down the track.
I am so pleased with how far I was able to stretch my humble chicken. A 2.9kg chook, fed our family of five 3 dinners, 2 lunches and the carcass made stock which then made 6 portions of soup. That’s a total of 15 dinner portions and 10 lunch portions, plus soup. If you watch your portion sizes, it’s amazing how far you can stretch your meat. Not bad for a chook that cost me $8.70.