How to Stretch a Bird: Make one Chicken Keep on Giving

These days everybody is cutting back--I know I am.

I'm forgoing the daily grande-nonfat-latte (one of my more serious addictions), and Instead of going out for fine dining, I'm finding ways to dine in--affordably.

When my extremely carnivorous husband and I cut our monthly food-budget by half, he was ready to stock up on ramen noodles and paper-cup soup (which would not have saved us any money because the man could eat a case of the stuff in a day).

But lucky for us, and for you, there’s a better option.

Behold the Chicken

1 bird + 2 people = Dinner all week

Now I know what you’re thinking:

Chicken? Again?

I, too, used to think chicken was boring, bland, and best-eaten fried or not at all. But I had never roasted a chicken myself, and I wanted to give it a shot. Now I roast one almost every week. The best part is, I can work this one large chicken (for which I paid $4.37) into six different dishes to keep me and my husband well fed all week long. Now, obviously it's a lot easier to stretch a bird for a two-person family than for, say, a family of 12, but these tips and recipes are good to have on hand no matter how full your house.

Here's the gameplan:

Saturday: Roasted Chicken

1. Roast the chicken (recipe follows). Serve drumsticks with crusty bread such as a French baguette (a must!) and a side salad (just a suggestion). Just eat the drumsticks tonight--I know it doesn't sound like a lot, but you will fill up quickly, dipping your crusty bread into the delicious pan juices.

2. After dinner, cut the remaining meat off the carcass, and transfer the meat, pan juices, and the onions that cooked with the chicken to an airtight container and store in the fridge. Place all the bones in a gallon-sized freezer bag (or desired receptacle) and store in the fridge till you are ready to make your stock.

Sunday: Hearty Chicken and Barley Soup

1. Make stock early in the day, as it will need to simmer 4-6 hours (recipe follows).

2. Make Hearty Chicken and Barley Soup (recipes follow). Serve soup with a big hunk of crusty bread. Once leftover soup has cooled, transfer to an airtight container, and keep in fridge for up to a week.

4. Ladle cooled, leftover stock evenly into ice-cube trays, and freeze till solid. Remove stock-cubes from trays and keep frozen in air-tight freezer bags till ready to use. If you do not have ice-cube trays (about $1.79 each at the grocery store), you can divide the liquid stock among quart-sized freezer bags or other airtight containers; however, I find the cubes are easier to work with. Stock can also be stored in airtight containers in the fridge for up to a week.

Monday: Romaine Salad with Chicken and Green Olives

1. Take a small amount of the chicken meat from the container in the fridge. Chop the chicken, or use two forks to shred the meat (my preference). Place the chicken in a large bowl or container (ideally one with a lid), and add a couple cups of chopped romaine lettuce, some green olives, freshly cracked black pepper, a touch of salt, a tablespoon or so of red wine vinegar, and a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil (the idea here is to make a salad—add whatever ingredients you like). Cover your vessel tightly with its lid or with plastic wrap, and (working over the sink in case of spills) shake the container for a good 30 seconds to ensure that every leaf of romaine is nicely coated with your impromptu vinaigrette. This meal is also very nicely complemented with a crusty baguette (bet you never saw that coming!) or even some of your leftover chicken soup.

Tuesday: Roasted Chicken Frittata

1. Make frittata (recipe follows). Serve in large wedges with bread or salad or soup or my personal favorite, a glass of red wine.

Wednesday: Chicken Enchiladas Suiza and Sizzlin’ Bacon Black-Beans

1. Make enchiladas and beans. Serve with Frozen Orange Margaritas (all three recipes follow). Leftovers of beans and enchiladas can be stored in airtight containers in the fridge for up to a week.

Thursday: Vichyssoise (Leek and Potato Soup)

1. Make vichyssoise, utilizing some of that yummy stock you made (recipe follows). Serve with white wine…and a crusty baguette for good measure. Once cooled, store leftovers in airtight containers in the fridge for up to a week—this soup tastes even better leftover!

Friday:

1. Kick back in front of the TV and feast on scrumptious leftovers.

Of course… if the thought of having nothing to cook tonight leaves you biting your nails and pacing the floor, you can always bake up a few loaves of crusty bread for next week.

Recipe Index

I try to make my recipes as comprehensive as possible. Nothing is worse than embarking on a recipe and realizing you don't have an all-important gadget. Therefore, the tools and equipment you will need are underlined in the directions, and special notes are in italics. If you should have any questions relating to the recipes, please feel free to ask me in the comment section!

1. Roasted Chicken

2. Lazy-Man's Homemade Chicken Stock

3. Hearty Chicken and Barley Soup

4. Roasted Chicken Frittata

5. Chicken Enchiladas Suiza

6. (Bonus side-dish recipe!) Sizzlin Bacon Black Beans

7. (Bonus drink recipe!) Frozen Orange Margaritas

8. Vichyssoise (Leek and Potato Soup)

Roasted Chicken

Sometimes it's OK to get your hands a little dirty, and this is one of those times. Do not fear the chicken! During the cooler months, I like to add some root vegetables like carrots and parsnips in with the onions and the garlic for the perfect built-in side dish.

2 T Kosher salt

1/2 T freshly cracked black pepper

2 tsp of dried thyme or your favorite herb blend

1 whole chicken

¼ cup olive oil

6 fat cloves of garlic

3 large white or yellow onions, peeled and quartered

1 12-oz beer of your choice (I use Yuengling)

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. In a small bowl or ramekin, combine salt, pepper, and herbs. Set aside. Prepare the chicken by reaching into its cavity and removing the neck and any organs (liver, kidneys, heart) that have been left behind (often they have been left inside the cavity in a bag for your convenience; sometimes they have been removed completely). Discard these items or store in an airtight bag or container in the fridge and save for another use such as giblet gravy (the neck is great for stocks!). Rinse off the chicken in the sink, and pat dry (make sure to disinfect all surface areas that come in contact with raw chicken or its juice after preparation).

2. Place the chicken in a roasting pan. Pour the olive oil over the chicken so that the entire surface area is coated. Using your hands, rub the salt mixture into the cavity and skin of the chicken, covering every nook and cranny.

3. To peel the garlic, rest the blade of a chef’s knife horizontally on top of one clove (always pointing the blade away from you) and carefully press down on the blade with the heel of your palm, crushing the clove (I find this activity to be quite therapeutic). The skin will now be loosened and can be removed easily. Repeat with remaining cloves. Coarsely chop 3 of the crushed and peeled cloves.

4. At the opening of the cavity, gently lift up the skin and rub the chopped garlic into the flesh, being careful not to tear the skin.

5. Stuff the remaining garlic and as many of the onion quarters as you can fit into the cavity. Place the rest of the onions in the roasting pan. Fill the cavity with beer, and pour the rest over the onions in the pan. Place the chicken in the pan breast-side down, and roast at 350 for 40 minutes. Flip chicken over so that the breast-side is up and cook 40 minutes more. Insert a meat thermometer into one of the leg joints to check for doneness. According to food safety standards, chicken should be cooked to 165 degrees F. I like to remove my chicken from the oven once it has reached 160, as some carryover cooking will occur as the chicken rests. Remove from oven and let rest at least 10 minutes to settle the juices before carving.

To store the leftovers, remove the remaining meat and skin from the carcass and reserve the bones for stock. Place the meat, skin and onions in an airtight container, and pour the pan juices over the top before sealing. After refrigeration, the pan juices may be congealed. Fear not.This gelatin will melt down immediately when heated and add amazing flavor to your dishes.

Lazy-Man's Homemade Chicken Stock

Frozen Stock-Cubes
Frozen Stock-Cubes

This is my version of brown stock, which I prefer for its richer flavor. It will have a darker, caramel-like color. If you desire a milder, lighter-colored stock, you can make it a white stock by skipping step 1 and simply adding the unroasted bones to the pot in step 3. To learn how to make stock like the pros, visit my page Everything you Need to Know about Stock-Making.

Bones from 1 chicken

3 carrots, peeled and chopped

3 stalks of celery, rinsed and chopped (add the celery leaves as well)

2 onions, peeled and diced

1 clove garlic, crushed and peeled

1 tsp crushed black peppercorns

1 sprig of thyme

2 parsley stems

1 bay leaf

1. Preheat oven to 375. Place chicken bones in an even layer in a roasting pan. Roast at 375 for 25 minutes or till bone have caramelized or darkened in color—do not allow to burn.

2. Meanwhile, sweat (cook slowly to release moisture without browning) the mirepoix (carrots, celery and onions) in a 4-qt stockpot over low heat.

3. Add roasted bones and remaining ingredients to stockpot.

4. Deglaze the hot roasting pan by adding enough water to completely cover the bottom of the pan. Use a wooden spoon or heatproof rubber spatula to scrape up any fond (bits that have stuck to the bottom of the pan) and stir to incorporate. Add this fond-liquid to the stockpot and add enough cold water to completely cover the bones. Turn heat up to med-high and bring just to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer 4 hours.

5. Using a ladle skim off and discard any fat and impurities on the surface of the stock. Carefully strain the hot stock into a clean pot. The solids left in the strainer can be used again to make a remouillage (stock made from adding clean water to already-used bones) if desired.

5. To cool, set up an ice bath (ice + water) in your kitchen sink and place stockpot inside. Stir stock occasionally. As soon as stock is cool, store stock you will use within a week in an airtight container in the fridge. To freeze, ladle stock into clean ice cube trays and place in freezer till solid. Once frozen, cubes can be stored in gallon-sized bags in the freezer for several months.

Hearty Chicken and Barley Soup

The hardboiled eggs are my husband’s touch. I thought he was crazy at first, but the yolks sort of thicken the soup as they break down, making it velvety, delicious, and extra-hearty.

½ cup uncooked pearled barley

4 1/2 cups homemade chicken stock, divided

2 tsp salt, divided

1 cup frozen vegetables (look for soup mix: corn, onions, lima beans, green beans, peas, carrots)

½ tsp freshly cracked black pepper

½ tsp hot sauce

3 hardboiled eggs, chopped

1 1/2 cup leftover roasted chicken and onions, chopped

congealed pan juices from chicken

1 tsp fresh parsley, finely minced

1. Add barley, 1 1/2 cups stock, and 1 tsp salt to a 4-qt pot over med-high heat. Bring just to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer 40 minutes or till soft and plump.

2. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil, stirring as necessary. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer 1 hour. Taste soup and adjust seasoning if necessary. After cooling, store leftovers in airtight containers in the fridge for up to a week (as with most soups, this one tastes even better the next day after all the flavors have really gotten to know each other).

Roasted Chicken Frittata

Simply explained, a frittata is the Italian answer to a French omelet or a Spanish tortilla (not to be confused with a Mexican or South American tortilla). One of the most versatile dishes ever, it is perfect for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Best of all, you can throw in almost anything and completely change the flavor profile—try it with roasted red peppers, spinach and feta; mushrooms and Swiss; or use it to get rid of the odds and ends in your refrigerator!

5 eggs

2 T milk

1 tsp seasoned salt (any brand--I use a brand called Darn Good I picked up at a county fair)

1/8 tsp freshly cracked black pepper

1/2 tsp hot sauce

1 piece uncooked bacon, diced

1/3 cup onion, diced

1 clove or 1 tsp garlic, minced

2/3 cup leftover roasted chicken, chopped or shredded

2 1/2 tsp of the congealed pan sauce from the roasted chicken

¼ cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

pickled jalapenos, for garnish (optional)

1. In a small bowl, lightly whisk together eggs, milk, seasoned salt, black pepper and hot sauce. Set aside.

2. Heat a broiler-safe, nonstick skillet over medium heat and add the bacon. Cook 2 minutes or till the fat begins to render out, flipping bits as necessary with a wooden spoon or heatproof rubber spatula (if bacon does not render much fat, add a couple drops of oil). Add the onion and cook 3 minutes or till the onion begins to soften and become translucent. Add the garlic and chicken and cook one minute.

3. Preheat broiler to 450-500 degrees F. Make sure the chicken mixture is spread out evenly in the skillet and pour the egg mixture evenly over the top. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook 6 minutes or till egg mixture is mostly set, gently lifting up the edges with spatula to let the egg flow underneath as necessary.

4. Place skillet under broiler for 3 minutes or till top appears set and just barely golden. Remove from boiler and sprinkle cheese evenly over the top. Place back under the broiler for 2 minutes or till cheese is melted and bubbly.

5. To serve, slide the frittata out of the skillet and onto a plate or cutting board and cut into wedges. Garnish with pickled jalapenos if desired.

Chicken Enchiladas Suiza

This is the perfect dish to serve for a game-day crowd, or for your next covered-dish affair. If you're making it for two like I do, the plentiful leftovers will heat up beautifully in the microwave!

1 ½ cups leftover chicken and onions (from your last roasted chicken)

1 10-oz package frozen spinach, thawed

1 pint sour cream, divided

1  6-oz can diced green chiles

1 15-oz can enchilada sauce, divided

1 tsp cumin

1/8 tsp coriander

1/8 tsp cayenne

½ tsp freshly cracked black pepper

2 tsp salt, divided

1 ½ cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese, divided

24 corn tortillas

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and grease a 9”x13” casserole dish.

2. Place leftover chicken and onions in a large bowl, and use two forks to shred both the chicken and the onions, making sure to remove any bits of bone that may have remained with the meat (any gelatin, fat, or skin that was in the container can be shredded with the meat and incorporated into the mixture).

3. Add spinach, ½ cup sour cream, chiles, ¼ cup enchilada sauce, cumin, coriander, cayenne, black pepper 1 ½ tsp salt, and ½ cup cheese. Mix well.

4. Spread half of remaining enchilada sauce evenly on the bottom of the casserole dish. Spoon about ¼ cup of chicken mixture onto a tortilla, roll up, and place in dish. Repeat with 11 tortillas and place the rolls in the dish so that there are two rows of six. Spread the remaining enchilada sauce over the rolls. Continue filling the remaining 12 tortillas, layering these rolls on top of the previous layer.

5. Combine the remaining salt, sour cream and cheese in a separate bowl. The mixture will be thick. Dollop over the rolls and spread evenly, being careful to avoid unrolling the tortillas.

6. Bake at 350 for 25 -35 minutes or till cheese is bubbly and enchiladas are warmed through. Serve with Sizzlin Bacon Black Beans and store leftovers in airtight containers for up to a week.

Makes 12 servings.

Sizzlin Bacon Black Beans

Serving cheap, filling sides like beans along with your main course is one great way to stretch any meal. These spicy, smoky black beans will fill you up with their high fiber and full flavor.

1 strip uncooked bacon, diced

1/3 cup diced onion

¼ tsp crushed red pepper flakes

¼ tsp freshly cracked black pepper

1 tsp minced garlic

1 tsp salt

1 15-oz can black beans

1/3 cup medium-heat salsa (I have used both Pace and Tostitos brands)

1. Heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add diced bacon and cook 3 minutes or till bacon bits have crisped just slightly and fat has begun to render out (use a wooden spoon or heatproof rubber spatula to stir/flip bits as necessary).

2. Add onion, crushed red pepper flakes, and black pepper, and cook another 5 minutes or till onions have softened and started to become translucent. Add garlic and salt.

3. Open can of black beans, and pour off some of the excess canning liquid, but do not rinse. Add beans and salsa to the skillet and cook another 8-15 minutes to heat the beans and let the flavors mingle. Serve with Chicken Enchiladas Suiza or your favorite entrée. Store cooled leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.

Frozen Orange Margaritas

My husband wanted to know what makes this drink different from a Tequila Sunrise. In case you were wondering the same thing, a Tequila Sunrise is made from orange juice, tequila and grenadine.

1 1/2 cups orange juice (I like to use the extra-calcium-and-vitamin-D, 50-percent-fewer-calories kind)

1/4 cup freshly-squeezed lime juice (about 2 limes)

1/2 cup tequila

1-2 cups ice (depending on how icy you like it)

1. Place all ingredients in a blender (the ice should be the last thing you add), and blend till ice is nice and slushy with little-to-no big lumps. Pour into margarita glasses and enjoy!

Serves 2.

Vichyssoise (Leek and Potato Soup)

Vichyssoise was invented at the New York Ritz Carlton in 1910. This is my take on the French-inspired classic.Traditionally vichyssoise is served chilled, but I prefer to eat this soup steaming hot. You can try it both ways and see which you prefer!

6 med-sized russet (baking) potatoes, peeled and cubed

1 carrot, peeled and chopped

3 T unsalted butter

1 leek, thinly sliced and rinsed (discard the tough, dark-green, outer layer)

½ tsp freshly-cracked black pepper

Dash cayenne pepper

1 tsp minced garlic

1 tsp salt

2 cups white wine, divided (a 1.5 L bottle of Cavit pinot grigio from Costco costs me $10.49, works great, and leaves me more than enough to drink with my soup!)

4 cups homemade chicken stock

finely minced flat-leaf parsley, for garnish

1. In a med-sized pot, cover the potatoes and carrot with cold water, salt the water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to med-low, cover and simmer 45 minutes or till potatoes are soft and cooked through. Drain.

2. Melt butter in a stock pock over med-low heat. Add the leeks, black pepper and cayenne and cook 10 minutes or till leeks are softened and translucent. Add garlic and salt and cook one minute. Add 1 cup of wine and use a heat-proof rubber spatula to scrape up and incorporate any bits that have stuck to the bottom of the pot. Increase heat to med-high and add chicken stock, potatoes and carrot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to med-low and simmer 20 minutes.

3. Using an immersion blender, blend till almost smooth, leaving a few bits and pieces for texture (I picked up my Cuisinart immersion blender for $29.95 at Costco and I LOVE it; a foodmill will also give great results; you can also put about 2 cups at a time in a standing blender, but do not overfill, be sure the lid is on securely, and be careful--it's HOT!). Stir in the remaining cup of wine, give the soup a taste and adjust seasonings if necessary (sometimes it needs a little more salt). Ladle into bowls and sprinkle with fresh parsley.

Comments 9 comments

Tara 7 years ago

Wait. Perhaps I should rescind my anti-stock-preparing comments on your other post. You make affordable eating sound fun and, most importantly, attainable. I may see how I can stretch a chicken. Preparing homemade stock makes a lot of sense now that I understand the cube trick and how investing one day to make it can have you ready and stocked (haha) when you need it for another meal. Clever!


Tariq Aziz 7 years ago

This is the most amazing article about chicken I have ever read. Well done. Morgan has done for chicken what Ben and Jerry have done for that frozen creamy stuff.


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questiongirl 7 years ago Author

Thank you so much for your support! I hope you wil continue to enjoy Questiongirl's hubs!


MarilynTheRealtor 7 years ago

What a great article...well, I wish I had been a guest at your meals. They all sound yummy, even though really affordable. Morgan, you are a chef and a writer. I will refer back to the recipes. Thanks for sharing. BTW, I thought this was so good and applicable for days when almost everyone wants affordability, I shared the post on my Facebook and on my Twitter. Great ideas.


questiongirl profile image

questiongirl 7 years ago Author

Note: My husband has dubbed the Frozen Orange Margarita "Tequila Sunburst." He says it's a much better name, so that's what we're calling it around the house now. You can call it whatever you like!


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questiongirl 7 years ago Author

Try it with turkey! I gotta say I just made the most amazing stock ever--my first turkey stock!-- after this Thanksgiving. I used half the stock to turn leftover Sage-Butter-Roasted Root Vegetables into an amazing Roasted Vegetable Soup, and I just turned the second half of the stock + leftover turkey and stuffing into White-Bean Turkey Chili. Saving money and savoring the flavors of the season have never been so easy or tasted so good!


Jo 6 years ago

Love these ideas. Here, in France, buying the whole chicken is exponentially cheaper than just the breasts, so that's what we do. And I've been needing good recipe ideas on how to make that small bird stretch all week. Thanks, Morgan!


MarilynTheRealtor 6 years ago

Timely ideas when we are all trying to save bucks. Thanks for sharing fun and tasty ideas. I referred to this again when I was making my stock.


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Francesca27 5 years ago from Hub Page

Nicely written hub with great pictures. Thanks. Francesca27

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