Last week I was cruising though Trader Joes, kinda feeling I been eating beans and / or cheese for a week (I’m not complaining, but seemed time for something different). I spotted a chicken and though ummm… roasted chicken. It good sized, about 5 lbs, not huge by today’s standards, but a lot of meat for 2 people (I’m not cooking chicken for Ethan. Yet). I got it, roasted it:
And here are all the meals that resulted from this 1 bird:
2 dinners (Roasted chicken with quinoa, and steamed broccoli)
3 chicken sandwiches
3 servings of chicken and quinoa salad (my brother got one of these)
3 main-dish green salads with chicken
Plus, made broth from the carcass resulting in 4 servings of mushroom risotto (2 servings for dinner, one reheated leftover serving, and one mushroom risotto and goat cheese burrito)
Overall, not a bad variety of good food (especially for lunches), without much of a plan or too much time cooking (well, with the exception of the risotto), and no leftovers for the trash. Or the dog.
Roasting a chicken is universally proclaimed as being simple, but don’t confuse this with one right way to do it. I have cookbooks which range from cooking a chicken at 170F (3 hours) to Barbara Kafta’s method using a 500F oven (50 minutes). Some truss, some don’t, some use racks, breast up, breast down, etc, etc. In my mind, there is only one thing that is important: knowing when the chicken is done. Personally I find the extremes risky – you will get a smoky kitchen with a higher temperature, and at 170F, it just seems you are in the "danger zone" of bacteria growth for too long, especially for the typical supermarket chicken. Remember: the higher the temperature, the smaller the window between done and overcooked. Here is what works for me... and if I need to get the chicken done sooner, I leave the oven hotter... .
1 whole chicken
Optional extras (choose 1):
-- Garlic and / or sage
-- Citrus and garlic
-- Spice rub
Preheat the oven to 400F
All of the latest advice says you don’t need to wash your chicken. Take it out of the package, and put into a 9 x 13 roasting pan. However, if it is icy inside, rinse with nice warm water. Make sure they giblets are pulled out (freeze to make stock later). Pull off any big chunks of fat around the breast.
If you would like a little extra flavor, put some thinly sliced garlic and sage between the skin and the meat of the chicken. Or, mix together some citrus zest (from a lemon or orange) and minced garlic, salt and pepper then make a paste with olive oil and rub on the outside bird. Or sprinkle with your favorite rub or spice mix. Put any leftover garlic, herbs, or slices of citrus in the cavity. In any case, sprinkle with salt and pepper, then rub a bit of olive oil on the bird.
I fold the wings back, and don’t bother to truss. I start the bird breast down – this helps the thighs brown better. I pop in the oven, and cook for 20 or 30 minutes. Turn the oven down to 350, and flip the bird. Continue cooking until done, it’s typically about 15 minutes per pound at this temperature. Use convection if you have it – it will cook faster. If you need to get the bird to the table faster, just turn the oven down to 375F or go longer at 400F. The meat should be pulling from the ends of the legs, and a thermometer stuck in the thigh joint should read 160F (or close to it). Note: the USDA considers the safe temperature for poultry to be 165F. Let the bird rest for 5 or 10 minutes – the temperature will come up, and the juices will stay in the bird better. Carve and serve.
My favorite of the leftovers was the quinoa salad. It’s based on my vegetable rice salad adjusted to what happened to be on hand. I didn’t measure anything, but here is a general idea of what went into it:
1 cup+ of leftover quinoa
½ cup of leftover chickpeas with kale (loosely based on this recipe)
Handful of leftover chicken, diced
1 big floret of leftover lightly steamed broccoli, chopped small
1 carrot, minced
2 green onions, sliced
1 small Persian cucumber, chopped
Juice from a large lemon
Glug of olive oil
All into a bowl and mixed. Served on a bed of greens (arugula) and topped with goat cheese crumbles.
Sometime soon I will get my master recipe for a main dish salad posted.. It’s what I eat for lunch about 3 times a week. The risotto was good too, but a bit on the time consuming side, especially when I realized I didn’t actually have any risotto rice. Fortunately there is a well-stocked Safeway a mile away, and a wonderful husband to make a quick run out.
But it seems now I have been eating chicken for a week… Last night we had shrimp stir fry, and tonight, back to cheese (in the form of Macaroni and Cheese).