Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Perfectly Practical #9 - Whole Chickens

Image courtesy of freefoto.com

Chicken breast tenders or thighs are so easy and quick to cook but with a little forethought a whole chicken is much more practical.

From one large hen you can easily make a roast chicken and gravy, then take the leftovers and make chicken salad, stir fry, or a casserole, and finally, use the bones to make homemade stock; chicken three ways as easy as that.

I know what you're thinking, "But Pary, I just don't have time to do all of that work."  Well my friend, let me show you how little time you are actually involved in this process:

Roasted Chicken in a Crock Pot
1 large hen
1-2 onions, quartered
1-2 garlic cloves, quartered
Lawry's Season Salt

Put the onions and garlic in the bottom of the crock pot.  Sprinkle the Lawry's all over the chicken and place on top of the onions and garlic.  Cook on low 6-8 hours.

Basically takes about 5 minutes of prep in the morning before work and then you have dinner ready for you when you get home. 
Easy peasy lemon squeezy as Diva says.  Speaking of lemons, instead of Lawry's you could sprinkle lemon pepper or Greek seasoning - any seasoning that is pre made will save you time. 

You could also put carrots and celery in the bottom of the pot with the onions and garlic.

Make gravy with the drippings.

Chicken Gravy

Drain the juice from the bottom of the crock pot into a skillet.  Cook on medium heat.
Put a little corn starch (or flour) and some water in a jar and shake the dickens out of it.
Slowly incorporate the cornstarch mixture  into the drippings and stir continuously.
Bring to a simmer - the gravy will thicken.  Take off of the heat and serve. 

After dinner, debone rest of chicken. Put meat in fridge and put bones in freezer bag and into the freezer to be dealt with later. 

Chicken Stir Fry

Sesame oil
Leftover chicken
Cut vegetables (or a bag of fresh or frozen stir fry veg)
Soy Sauce or Tamari
Rice

Start cooking your rice as per directions. 
Go once around the pan with the sesame oil and turn the stove on medium.
Dump the veggies and chicken in the pan.
Pour over some soy sauce to taste (and maybe a sprinkle of ginger if you'd like).
Stir while frying until veggies are still a little crunchy and brightly colored.
Serve over rice and pour a little more soy on it.  Voila! 


Crock Pot Chicken Stock

Any leftover veggies that you have on hand
Chicken carcass(es)

If you keep a bag in the freezer of vegetables that are about to go off if you don't use them right away or veggies that you had surplus to requirement at one time or another, now would be the perfect time to use them up.

Dump bones and vegetables in the crock pot.  Cover them with cold water.
Cook on low for about 24 hours then strain.  I put my stock into freezer bags in 2 cup portions.  Use the stock to cook rice or make the most fantastic mashed potatoes.
Plus, won't your friends be impressed that you made your own stock?

Total time you are involved in the process for roast, gravy, stir fry, and stock is about 45 minutes tops and most of that will be spent putting the stock in bags or deboning chicken. 

So I promise that you have time for this perfectly practical (and frugal) little tidbit.

Part of Works for Me.

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