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Cooking a Whole Chicken

It's no secret that I love to cook. One thing that used to scare the crap outta me though was cooking a whole chicken.

I mean what do you do with it?? How do you work with it? It seemed like an awful lot of work for not very much payoff. 

But I was mistaken. 

I've learned that you can get more than a few meals out of a single roasted chicken. In fact one average sized roast chicken will feed my family 4 decent sized meals (with a little help from some side dishes). 

Meal One:
First things first... You'll want to prep your chicken. That means sticking your hand in the cavity and pulling out all the guts the processing plant puts in there. But whatever you do, don't throw those away!! You'll need them for later.

Next you'll pat the chicken dry with a paper towel and season it. I like using adobo, but you can use whatever seasoning you like. The next thing I do is chop a medium sized onion in half and shove it up in the cavity. If I'm feeling fancy I'll go to my herb garden and cut a few sprigs of fresh herbs and shove those in there too. 

Next you'll roast the dang thing. I like to serve mine with root veggies (potatoes, carrots, parsnips, etc) and green beans. Whichever way you decide to roast the chicken (oven or crockpot) you'll put the root veggies on the bottom, put your green beans on top of that, and place the chicken on top of the whole mess. 

You can roast it in the oven: 375 degrees at 25 minutes per round of chicken. 

Or, as my cousin showed me, in the crockpot: cook on low for 6 hours.

Once it's done voila! you have a delicious meal. 

Meal Two:
Once we've decimated the chicken there's always a few big chunks and a lot of leftover bits still clinging to the bones. I take those chunks & bits and make chicken salad. Now you probably don't think there's very much left, but once you start to pickin' you'll find that there's plenty! Make sure you save everything though (the skin and bones and any fat drippings...) You'll be using those later!! 

My chicken salad recipe is as follows: 
leftover chicken meat (usually about a cup)
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup olive oil based mayo
1 tbs Dijon mustard
1/2 ripe avocado, cubed

Make sure the chicken is finely shredded. Now just mix everything together. You don't even need to season it! Serve on toasted bread and top with lettuce and tomato. 

Meal Three & Four:
Now you're going to make a soup base that you'll be able to use not once, but twice! 

Get yourself a big stockpot and dump the chicken guts from meal one and the drippings, skin, and bones from meal two into it. Add 16 cups of water, 1 bay leaf, half of a chopped onion, and two cups of frozen veggies. Again you don't need to add seasoning because you've already seasoned the skin with adobo (or whatever). 

Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to low. Cover and simmer for two hours. Let it cool to a reasonable temperature before you continue.

Now comes the tricky part... Fish all the veggies out and place them in another smaller pot.

Now you'll need to strain the broth you've made into yet another large pot. I use a fine mesh strainer so that it captures everything and I'm left with a nice clear broth. 

You will now divide up the broth: half will get poured over your veggies in the smaller bowl and the other half you will bag up and freeze for later. 

Once you've put away the freezer broth you can toss the stuff that's left in the strainer. 

Now to get started on your soup... Yes, yes... It's another step, but I promise it's an easy one: you simply open a can of beans (I like black beans) and pour it in the smaller bowl containing the broth and veggies. Heat it up, sprinkle some cheddar on it, add a dolop of sour cream, and serve with crackers. 

For meal four you do the same exact thing with the frozen broth: thaw, add veggies, beans, and whatever else tickles your fancy..... you'll just do this at a later date, because by this time everyone will be sick of chicken and they'll want red meat. Ha!

Pics & Recipes By: Me 

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