The Whole Chicken
Typically we are flexitarians, but when I’m pregnant I seem to crave meat a lot more than usual. The thing is, meat is expensive (our desire to eat “happy animals” doesn’t help this) and we by nature are kind of cheap. Well, we’ve come up with a pretty good solution that doesn’t compromise our checking account or our moral integrity: buying whole chickens. Seriously though, a whole chicken generally costs less per pound, makes me feel less guilty since I’m only eating 1 animal at a time (Have you ever been eating chicken wings and stopped to count how many you ate and felt like a horrible person when you calculated how many chickens, although not the brightest creatures, had to die for your meal? Or is that just me?), and saves me time and energy since they are incredibly easy to roast in a crockpot. We’ll often cook a chicken on a Sunday, eat it with mashed potatoes or something, and then sprinkle the leftovers in a few delicious meals throughout the week. Today our Whole Foods had a one day sale on whole chickens and I picked up a couple to freeze. (I know it sounds uppity, but their meat is not only obtained in more humane ways, but it seriously is soooo tasty. I really had no idea ground beef could taste so good until we switched. You should try it. End of soapbox.) In honor of the chickens in my freezer, here are some of my favorite recipes for cooking with a whole chicken. I should warn you, I’m kind of a free-spirited cook, so some of these are just guidelines 🙂
- Make three balls out of aluminum foil and place inside a crockpot.
- Stuff chicken with lime or lemon wedges and a few cloves of garlic. Position chicken on foil balls.
- Add a bit of moisture, about 1/2 C (I’ve successfully used cooking wine, chicken stock, and plain old water)
- Season chicken generously with salt, pepper, and thyme.
- Lay a few pats of butter on the chicken and cook on low for around 5 hours.
- Crust (recipe to follow)
- Leftover Chicken
- Gravy (I like to make a homemade gravy from the drippings the day I roast the chicken. Great tips here.)
- Veggies (I normally just use whatever combination sounds good from my fridge or freezer. Our last one had asparagus, carrots, and mushrooms – yum! If you use veggies that take longer to cook, like carrots or potatoes, boil them a little beforehand so they won’t be crunchy in your pie.)
- Salt and Pepper
- Roll out bottom pie crust and place in pie pan.
- Mix chicken and veggies. (I tend to go light on the chicken and heavy on the veggies.) Season with salt and pepper if desired. Pour into pie crust.
- Pour gravy over veggies. Add more seasoning if desired.
- Roll out pie top and place on top of pie. Trim edges and seal. Prick the top in a couple of places with a fork.
- Cook at 425 for 20-30 minutes or until crust is golden brown.
Sneaky (or not so sneaky) Whole Wheat Pie Crust from Cook for Good
- 1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
- 3/4 cups white whole-wheat flour (or plain old wheat flour if you’re not being sneaky)
- 1 teaspoon sugar (optional; recommended for sweet fillings)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup cold butter (2 sticks)
- 6 tablespoons ice water (although I’ve found I often use a little more)
- Mix Dry ingredients (Can do this in a food processor if you’re one of those lucky people that has one.)
- Cut in butter with two knives, pastry blender, or food processor (I like to go until the clumps are pea sized, but the recipe says until it resembles “coarse sand.”)
- Slowly add ice water until the mixture forms a ball. (I usually start with a pastry blender or knives and finish it off with my hands.)
- Divide in half. Put in fridge for a bit if butter is warming up or proceed to next step.
- Roll out each crust dusting the surface with flour. Can roll between two sheets of floured parchment paper for even greater ease. (If making a pie that only has a bottom crust you can store the other half of the dough in the fridge for 4 days or in the freezer for 1 month.)
Note: Pie crust scraps make a yummy treat if you sprinkle them with cinnamon and sugar and bake them on a cookie sheet for 8-10 minutes.
- Tortillas (recipe to follow)
- Enchilada Sauce (I like to make the sauce from this recipe. Let me warn you that leaving the seeds in the peppers will make it pretty spicy though – yowza!)
- Leftover roast chicken
- Chopped onions and bell peppers (and any additional veggies of your choice)
- Grated Cheese
- Place chicken, veggies, and cheese in tortillas. (I also tend to go light on chicken here and heavy on veggies and of course the cheese.) Roll up and put in pan.
- When pan is full, pour enchilada sauce over tortillas and sprinkle with more cheese.
- Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes.
- 3 C flour (Can use half whole wheat and half all purpose if desired. You will want to add a little extra water though since the whole wheat makes it a bit drier. Using white whole wheat gives it a smoother texture and will be less noticeable to haters 🙂 )
- 5 TBSP vegetable shortening
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 C lukewarm water
- Mix ingredients together. (Can start with a spoon, but you will most likely end up using your hands.)
- Knead for 5 minutes and roll into 12 balls. Let sit for 15 minutes.
- Put pan or skillet on stove and heat to high.
- Roll out tortillas. Cook briefly on each side. (You don’t want them to cook too much or they won’t be pliable; try to flip them when a few bubbles have formed, but before they start browning.)
Other Favorites For Using Leftover Chicken
- Olive Garden Style Chicken and Gnocchi Soup (Here’s a homemade gnocchi recipe I’m going to try out next week).
- Chicken with Quinoa and Veggies
- White Chili. Eating Well has a yummy and fairly easy recipe and Mark Bittman has a delicious recipe if you’re feeling adventurous with your veggies. (It may sound weird, but it’s seriously tasty.)
4 thoughts on “The Whole Chicken”
Mmmmmm! Thanks! And no, it’s not just you, I often pray for the spirit of the animal that was my dinner.
I do the same thing…we sometimes joke that whole chickens are our manna because they are so cheap and they last us the whole week:) I like to use left overs for chicken noode soup, chicken taco soup, enchiladas, salads, sandwiches and whatever else we are in the mood for:)
Humm, my mom has always cooked whole chickens and I’ve always thought it was such an odd old fashioned thing to do. But now you are making it seem like such a hip and young thing to do. I don’t know what I believe anymore.
I’ve really been wanting to do this since you told me about it, but I haven’t. We have bought some “better” chicken, but we still eat some who-knows-what and I always am kind of bummed out about it. How does it compare in prep time and effort?