How to get 3 good meals from 1 chicken
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
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.
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
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
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!