Hey Yall! This post has been in the works for a few weeks, I've been adding pics as I go from my phone and it's just been sitting there waiting for me to edit!
This is one of the most simple things you can make for dinner. It's cheap, easy, and there's so much more you can do that just eat the chicken and veggies and be done with it. There's a lot of pictures so I'll try not be too wordy!
Start with a small roaster chicken. This one was maybe $6-8. (although, we are fast becoming a 2-bird family! It would be no different to just roast 2 at a time if you have a big family or want more leftovers). This is a large cookie sheet, commercial type, I got from Sam's. I use it for eeeeeeverything. I love the high rim so it catches juices, etc. My method for small chickens is the same for large Thanksgiving turkeys. Rinse, pat dry, and slather with olive oil or softened butter (the real stuff, people) depending on my mood. Cover inside and out the best you can with salt and fresh cracked black pepper (it makes a difference). Then, in a large bowl, cut up your veggies and toss to coat with olive oil. (this time I used 1 butternut squash, scooped and pitted,skin on, 1 onion, a few carrots, and a lemon. You can also do potatoes or peppers or sweet potatoes apples or pretty much anything! Be sure to salt and pepper them after spreading on the cookie sheet. Inside the chicken goes a lemon cut in half or quartered, and some fresh herbs. I used thyme and sage this time, but rosemary is equally awesome. That's it!
Roast according to the directions on the chicken, I think I did 375 for about an hour and 15 min. I always use a meat thermometer that has a probe connected to a digital display outside the oven. You will NEVER over or under cook if you use a meat thermometer!
After. YUM! AND it will make you house smell amazing. For real.
After you've enjoyed your meal, let's talk about what to do with the leftovers.
We ate most of l the white meat off the chicken. In the small container I have all the dark meat pulled off the legs and thighs to be saved for later. In the large container is the carcass. In the jar is all the drippings and juice....save it and you can make a great gravy with it in the next few days! Make a simple roux and add the drippings. These containers are going into the fridge until tomorrow.
Next day or so after your meal....Make some chicken broth. Place the carcass in a large stock pot, along with a couple stalks of celery AND celery leaves, 1 onion quartered, a few sprigs each of the same herbs you used to cook the chicken (I used sage and thyme) and a few carrots. If you have been saving any other veggie clippings in the freezer you can add them too.
Add at least enough water to cover. This is a 8 quart pan, and i think I added about 4 quarts of water. Maybe 5.
Bring it to a boil and let it simmer. Alllll Day. I think you need to simmer a MINIMUM of 4 hours, but I usually let mine go 6-8 if I can. The longer you cook it, the better it will be. If you start it right after breakfast, it will start looking like this by lunch time.... and you can ladle some of the broth on top of your leftovers!
When the broth is done, pour it into one or 2 large bowls, and refrigerate overnight. I used a scoop and tongs to get out the big chunks and the put a large strainer over my bowl to catch the rest of the stuff.
After it's chilled overnight, the fat will rise to the top and solidify. Gross, right? But easier to skim off.
I actually found this an easier method. I poured the broth through the strainer and into the funnel and into my large Ball jars. I used to use ziplocs for this, but I'm trying to get away from those.
****note: do NOT fill them up this full. I mistakenly thought I could leave as much room as you would for jam to expand in the freezer. I was wrong.I now have 2 out of 3 cracked jars of broth in the freezer :( So, I wouldn't put more than 3 cups in there until I make this again and then I'll update with how much room I find it needs to expand)
This is a beautiful thing! Thaw as needed, and use for soups, stews, gravies, anything!
Moving on! A few days later I made Home made Chicken noodle soup. Perfect for winter, right! I've never made it before, but how hard can it be, right?
Chop up all the dark meat you saved, along with a few carrots and celery sticks. WITH THE LEAVES! And some more of those fresh herbs. (like how we are using them all up!) Put in bottom of your stock pot.
Add 6-8 cups of your broth and a couple bay leaves, optional.
Simmer until the vegetables are tender! The longer the better. Start it right after lunch and it will be ready by dinner.
I cooked up some spaghetti noodles separately. Put the noodles in your bowl and use a knife or kitchen shears to snip them up. Add some ladle fulls of your meat and broth mixture.
It's like a hug in a bowl, if you ask me.
How I stored the leftovers. Divide the broth mixture up and the noodles. I chose to store the noodles separately, I was worried about them getting mushy in the broth.
So, all this was made from the same original ingredients, which you can get for about $10-15. That's really stretching the dollar! Plus, there is VERY little waste accumulated from all this! Just the chicken carcass, pretty much, which I did freeze and throw away. Does anyone have any better ideas on what to do with it??