Image © Copyright John Went and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons License.
I would have taken my own picture, but have you ever tried to get a chicken to stand still?
Not as easy as cooking one, I tell you whut.
True story: before eating paleo, I had never cooked a whole chicken. Woefully unaware of the monetary benefits of buying my chicken in bodily form, I wasted my money on individual chicken parts: legs for $1.99/lb, breasts for $4.99/lb, wings for another $2.99/lb... sheer madness!
Now, at $1.29/lb from my local Trader Joe's, whole chickens are a staple of my grocery budget. I've figured out how to squeeze four entrees out of a single chicken for a fraction of the cost of buying parts. On top of that, cooking a whole chicken in one go means my meat for the next few meals is ready to eat and saves me future prep time. This is especially helpful if you, as I am, are prone to cheating around dinner time when hungriest and most vulnerable.
I don't know how I managed before; I was blind, but now I see. Here, let me show you:
How to Cook a Whole Chicken:
- Roasting dish
- One whole chicken (mine was ~5lbs; you may have a larger chicken, thus even more meals!)
- Sea salt
1. Heat oven to 475 F.
2. Rinse chicken, inside and out! If you've got organ meat and are feeling adventurous, set it aside and search the web for a recipe. I don't have one featuring organs in this particular series, but I'm working on it!
3. Salt that baby up. So, so salty; don't be afraid.
4. Bake in roasting dish for approximately 75 minutes, or until juice runs clear and the meat is no longer pink.
5. Now carve that baby up! Set aside the carcass for soup (Entree Two). Meat should keep in the fridge for two to three days.
Onto the entrees!
Note: The following recipes assume you're working with cooked chicken parts from the above recipe. Obviously, adjust accordingly if you're working with individual parts that have not yet been cooked.
Entree One: Sweet Honey Balsamic Chicken Breasts:
Makes two to four servings
- Cooked chicken breasts
- Balsamic vinegar
1. In a small bowl, combine honey, vinegar, rosemary, and pepper to taste.
2. Coat breasts in dressing, heat in microwave or over stove, and serve with a side like sweet potato fries! DIY fast food!
Entree Two: Classic Chicken Soup:
Makes about four servings
- Large pot for boiling
- Chicken carcass with back and misc. meat
- Shallots or spring onion
- Sea salt
1. Place carcass in pot and fill with water until carcass is just about covered.
2. Add garlic cloves, shallots/onion, and salt and pepper to your liking. You can always add more seasoning later on; this initial round is for stewing over the next four hours.
3. Heat over high heat until boiling.
4. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for about four hours, stirring every half hour or so to encourage the remaining meat to separate from the bones.
5. Remove soup from heat and allow to cool slightly, then strain broth into a separate pan.
6. Now, a scavenger hunt! Pick out the bones, garlic, and shallots/onion from your strained bits. Add the remaining meat back to the broth and discard the inedible parts.
7. Add minced carrots and celery (along with any other veggies you fancy) to the soup and heat over medium heat until veggies are soft.
8. Enjoy! Missing bread with your soup? Try a paleo pancake as your broth buddy!
Entree Three: Quick 'n' Easy Spicy Wings:
Makes about one to two servings
- Cooked chicken wings
- Frank's Red Hot Sauce--or, DIY with vinegar, cayenne pepper, salt, and water to taste
1. Add sauce to chicken and heat in microwave or over the stove in a covered skillet over medium-low heat.
2. Serve with your choice of side, like celery slaw. Told ya--quick 'n' easy.
Entree Four: Curry Chicken Legs:
Makes one to two servings
- Cast iron skillet, if you've got one, but a regular skillet will do
- Cooked chicken drumsticks/thighs
- 1/2 lime
- Green curry paste to taste (I prefer my mouth to be on fire, so I used a whole mini jar ^_^)
- 1/2 can coconut milk
- Veggies of all varieties
1. Warm skillet over medium heat.
2. Add lime juice, curry paste, and coconut milk. Stir for about a minute.
3. Add chicken and any veggies you desire.
4. Heat for a few more minutes until meat is warmed and veggies are springy when speared with a fork.
Now that wasn't so hard, was it?