A whole chicken is a marvelous way to produce three (or more) meals inexpensively and with little time on your part. Here’s how we do it.
Night One: Roast Chicken Dinner
2 Tbl pesto, OR
lemon and 1 Tbl olive oil and 1 tsp salt
Remove neck and innards; discard innards but put neck in the freezer for now. Rinse chicken and pat dry. Heat oven to 450 degrees.
If using pesto: take about 1/2 Tbl in your (clean) hand and run underneath the skin on the breast up into the thigh area, smearing the pesto on the flesh. Repeat on the other thigh, then all over the breast area. Rub any remaining pesto on the outside of the chick, any where there is flesh. If using lemon: wash lemon and carefully pierce several times with a fork (this helps release the lemon essence while cooking). Place in cavity. Rub exterior with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. (I don’t like pepper, but you can use it if you do.) Its a good idea to tie the legs together with a bit of twine, it helps keep the moisture in the cavity and improves flavor.
Place in roasting pan on a rack (this keep the chicken from sitting in its own juices, which makes the bottom kind of soggy) and put in oven. Roast until done, about 60 minutes (check after 50 minutes though, because oven temperatures can vary widely).
Remove from oven and let rest 10 minutes (this is the perfect time to make a salad to go with the chicken). Carve, discard lemon (if used) and enjoy.
Night Two: Creamed Chicken with Grits alternative: Chicken Salad (for warm weather)
Now, having used up all of the meat, make Chicken Stock
Place chicken bones and neck (retrieved from the freezer, but you don’t have to defrost it) in a large heavy pan. Add water to just cover. Add a celery stalk, a medium carrot, and an skinned onion. (For a subtle flavor, push a clove bud or two into the flesh of the onion). Halve the vegetables if you need them to fit more easily in your pot. Cover and simmer over low heat for 4-6 hours until the liquid is reduced by at least 1/3. Let cool for 30 minutes, then strain and pour into wide-mouth jars or old yogurt containers. Cover and let cool for another 30 minutes.
If you want to reduce the fat, place in refrigerator overnight. The next morning, skim off the fat that has risen to the top and solidified. Label and freeze. Otherwise, just label and freeze.
Night Three: Easy Chicken Soup using Chicken Stock
2 1/2 cups chicken stock,
1 carrot, chopped smallish
1 celery rib, chopped smallish
1/2 onion, chopped smallish
1 c egg noodles (or other pasta, adjust amount to suit the style)
salt and pepper to taste
Combine all ingredients except noodles in a medium sauce pan over high heat until just coming to a boil. Reduce heat and cook 8 minutes at a low simmer. Add noodles and cook another 5 until carrots are crisp tender.
One chicken: three meals. That is a very frugal bird.