The Roast Chicken
To roast a chicken preheat your oven to 425 degrees F. Start with a 3 to 4 pound bird. Fill the cavity with aromatics, like sprigs of fresh thyme, rosemary, or tarragon, a cut lemon, or a quartered onion. Brush the outside of the chicken with a little melted butter and sprinkle the entire surface with salt and pepper.
Truss the chicken with kitchen twine by tying the legs together and tucking the wings behind the body. Trussing allows the bird to cook evenly, as there are no little parts to stick out and burn. Place the prepared bird in a roasting pan on top of chopped vegetables (carrots, onion, potato, fennel, etc.). Roast for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, or until done.
To test doneness, insert a thermometer into the thickest part of the breast and the thigh. Both areas should read at least 165 degrees F. Remove the pan from the oven and let rest for 10 minutes. Cut the chicken into pieces and serve with the roasted vegetables from the bottom of the pan. Refrigerate any leftover chicken to use later in the week.
The uses for the leftover chicken are countless. Pick the meat off the bones, and the world is your oyster. Here are just a handful of ideas:
- Use chicken to bulk up spinach and feta frittata.
- For lunch, stuff a quesadilla or grilled sandwich with leftover chicken and roasted red peppers.
- Make a chicken caesar wrap with tortillas.
- Sauté broccoli and garlic and toss with chicken and cooked pasta for a quick dinner.
- Make a basic chicken salad by combining the cooked chicken with mayonnaise and chopped celery. Eat on crackers as a snack.
- Add chicken to a homemade soup, along with any other veggies you might have in your fridge.
- Grind the cooked chicken finely in a food processor along with onions and spices. Use as a filling for chicken enchiladas.
- Brush barbeque sauce on pita bread and top with chicken, cilantro, and smoked cheddar cheese. Bake until hot and melted for a BBQ chicken pizza.
- Add to a big green salad to turn it into a complete meal.
Don’t throw out those bones! Roasted chicken bones make a great base for homemade stock. Combine them with celery, carrot, onion, fresh thyme and parsley, black peppercorns, and bay leaf in a large pot. Cover with cold water. Bring to a simmer. Skim off any scum that floats to the top. Simmer for 4-6 hours. Strain. Keep the stock in the refrigerator for 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months. Use the stock to make soup or sauces. Give grains (like rice, couscous, or quinoa) extra flavor by cooking them in homemade stock.