Cooking a Whole Chicken Is a Smart Thing To Do When You are Cooking for One
I've never met a cooked chicken I didn't like. Well, except once. Many years ago I ordered a baked chicken quarter from a local family restaurant. That chicken must have been sitting in the refrigerator, cooked, for at least five days, got warmed up, and was as stale as a shut-up room. Needless to say, I never visited that restaurant again (it went out of business shortly thereafter). But that stale experience never has to be yours when cooking a whole chicken just for yourself.
Although I'm cooking for only one person, I never worry about a whole cooked chicken going stale before I can eat it all. In fact, I often cook a whole chicken because, first, I love it, and second, it's such an economically smart thing to do, especially when whole chickens are on sale. For about five dollars, I can have at least five chicken servings, plus herbed chicken stock for a pot of soup, and even chicken sauce or biscuits for the dog. When a chicken comes into my house, nothing goes to waste. Here's what I do.
Tips for Cooking and Using a Whole Chicken Just for You (and Maybe for Your Dog)
- Oven-roast the whole chicken in a covered roasting pan so that you can collect and save all of the wonderful juices that get released. Oven-roasting tips (scroll down to Sunday: The Big Prep Day).
- After removing the chicken from the roasting pan to a carving plate, separate the chicken parts. Cut the thigh and leg quarters away and remove the breast pieces from the breast bone. The wings probably fell off into the juices in the pan, so just eat them on the spot. I always do...that's my instant gratification reward for making a beautiful roasted chicken.
- Pour the herbed chicken juices in the bottom of the roasting pan into a bowl and refrigerate. Later, when the juices are cooled, skim off the fat (you can use the fat to saute vegetables like green beans for a fabulous taste) and freeze the beautifully congealed, fat-free stock for later use in a soup.
- Freeze the chicken meat that you know you won't eat within two days. When you want to use these frozen pieces, thaw them in the refrigerator and create a chicken salad, or microwave or oven-heat them for a meal.
- Save ALL of the bones, even if you gnawed on them. When you have time (within two days), simmer the bones in water for several hours for a nutritious and tasty broth to use use in making dog biscuits or to add to the rich chicken juices from the roasting pan. Let your imagination be your guide about how to use this slow-cooked broth. It will have a slight fat layer on top which you can remove, or not. If you don't have the time within two days to deal with boiling the bones for four or five hours, put all of the bones into a plastic bag and freeze them for another day of boiling.
I Love Chicken
Do you? Please share your thoughts.
Photo source: artfulgourmetnyc CC BY ND-2.0