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How to get 3 good meals from 1 chicken

February 10, 2009

For us, chicken is necessarily an occasional treat. A free-range bird from my butcher costs around £8 – 10, depending on size, so I can’t afford to buy it too often and, when I do, I need to make the most of it. In my books, that means getting at least 3 meals from one large chicken. And it’s not just about the money – I hate waste and feel that if an animal has been killed for our dinner, we should darn well eat every last scrap! So, here’s my favourite recipe for roast chicken and some ideas for the leftovers…..

Lemon, Garlic and Rosemary Roast Chicken

This is my favourite way to roast a chicken. The flavoured butter keeps the breast meat lovely and moist and it smells mouthwateringly good as it’s cooking!


  • 1 large free-range chicken
  • 150g butter
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 plump cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 heaped tsp dried rosemary or 2 tsp finely chopped fresh

Preheat the oven to 220˚C/200˚C(Fan)/Gas Mark 7. Weigh the chicken to calculate the cooking time (see below). Finely grate the lemon zest into a bowl and add the butter, garlic and rosemary. Mix well. Gently part the skin from the breast and push approximately three quarters of the flavoured butter under the skin, smoothing it out so that the breast is well covered. Cut the lemon in half and insert into the cavity. Smear the rest of the butter over the skin and slash the thighs to help the heat penetrate. Place the chicken in the pan and cook for 20 minutes per 500g plus 30 minutes. Allow the chicken to rest for 15 minutes before carving. 

Variation: Substitute the rosemary with a different herb – thyme, parsley or oregano also work well.


Chicken and Mushroom Pasta Bake

Serves 2 adults and 2 toddlers

I came up with this recipe with the baby in mind. She loves creamy food but I can sneak a bit of goodness in there too by adding mushrooms or broccoli to the sauce and topping with wholemeal breadcrumbs.


  • cooked chicken, chopped up small
  • 250g pasta
  • 200g mushrooms, sliced
  • 50g wholemeal breadcrumbs
  • 25g butter
  • 2 heaped tablespoons of flour
  • 25g parmesan, finely grated plus extra for sprinkling
  • 1 pint of milk
  • a little freshly grated nutmeg
  • seasoning

Preheat the oven to 200˚C/180˚C(Fan)/Gas Mark 6. Cook the pasta until al dente. While it’s cooking make the sauce: melt the butter in a saucepan then stir in the flour to form a thick paste. Cook for a minute then remove from the heat. Gradually add the milk, a little at a time, stirring well to keep the sauce nice and smooth. Heat gently until thickened, stirring well. Once the sauce has thickened, grate in a little nutmeg and stir in the parmesan. Taste and season with some freshly milled black pepper. Next, gently fry the mushrooms in a little butter until their juices start to run. Add to the sauce along with the chicken. Drain the pasta and tip into a large, fairly shallow ovenproof dish. Pour over the sauce and mix well. Top with the breadcrumbs and grate over a little parmesan. Pop in the oven and bake for 25 minutes.

Variation: If you don’t like mushrooms, replace with some lightly steamed broccoli, cut up into small florets.

Chicken Stock

Makes approximately 1.4l

I make this after I’ve picked the carcass clean of meat and keep it in the fridge until I’m ready to use it in soup or a risotto. It also freezes very well so, even if you’re not planning anything requiring stock soon after the roast, it’s still worth making.


  • 1 chicken carcass
  • 2 onions, peeled and quartered
  • 2 sticks of celery, roughly chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 large leek, washed and roughly chopped
  • sprig of thyme
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 10 peppercorns
  • 2 litres of water

Put all the ingredients in the stock pot. Bring to simmering point and simmer very gently for 3 hours. Strain into a jug and keep in the fridge or freeze until required.

Chicken and Barley Soup

Serves 4

This is definitely not haute cuisine, in fact it’s what I’d call peasant food! Still, it’s hearty and wholesome and pretty tasty too!


  • 1 quantity of homemade chicken stock
  • 200g broth mix (pearl barley, lentils, split peas etc) or just plain pearl barley
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2 sticks of celery, sliced

Soak the broth mix / pearl barley overnight in cold water. Heat a little oil or butter in a pan then add the onions, carrots and celery and cook gently for roughly 15 minutes until softened. Rinse the broth mix well then add to the vegetables. Pour over the stock and bring to the boil. Simmer for 45 minutes until the vegetables and pulses are tender.

Other ideas for leftover chicken

Hugh’s Chicken Croquettes

Chicken Pie 

Chicken Caesar Salad (replace the chicken breasts with chicken pickings)

I’d love to hear how other people use up their leftovers – I’m always keen to try out new recipes!

5 Comments leave one →
  1. February 10, 2009 8:22 pm

    I heartily agree with you about getting the most out of a chicken. We love roast chicken. Jamie Oliver does a good one with chorizo. One of my favourite recipes for leftover chicken is risotto. It’s also good in pasta salad. And I would never throw away the carcass until I’d boiled every last bit of goodness out of it.

  2. February 11, 2009 12:24 am

    Yummy! One of my favourites as is a really simple Thai curry with the leftovers.

  3. February 11, 2009 7:35 am

    Lovely recipes, the pasta bake sounds particularly good – must try it.

  4. February 17, 2009 2:26 am

    The lemon zest with the melted butter must smell so good.. and the rest inside it.. that must really stimulate the appetite… We waste nothing of the bird either… and try our best to get 3 – 4 meals from a roast chicken.. including sandwiches, a soup and possibly a chicken and pasta dish too.. … sometimes a stirfry with chunks of chickand lots of local veggies …..tomorrow we are having a salad using chopped chicken with fresh Lentil sprouts ( that I just sprouted) and raw carrots and onions cut thin..

    also when I am making chicken stock I add a bit of vinegar to help extract more calcium from the bones…

    your chicken and mushroom pasta dish looks delicious.. I will try is the day after,thanks!!!

  5. February 17, 2009 8:00 am

    Thanks everyone.

    Gwen – I’d never heard of adding vinegar to the stock pot before – will remember this in future – thanks for the tip! The salad sounds delicious.

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