To me, roasted chicken (or just about roasted anything for that matter) is a special occasion meal. Roasted chicken conjures up images from my childhood of holiday meals with my family and what seemed like endless leftovers. My mom would always roast a chicken for Christmas Eve and a turkey for Thanksgiving and that’s about all the roasting she did except for an occasional pot roast.
But roasting is an incredibly easy way to get a lot of great tasting food for minimal expensive. Oddly enough, buying a whole chicken to roast is usually much cheaper than buying the separate pieces of a chicken, such as chicken breasts, legs, etc.
I bought a large roasting pan at Target and usually roast two 3-4 pound chickens ($ 6.00 max for both chickens) at a time which gives me one chicken to eat for dinner and use for sandwiches, wraps, etc. and the other chicken to shred and store in the freezer in 2 cup portions for easy use in casseroles and soups. I also always roast veggies with my chickens (onions, celery, potatoes and carrots) and whatever is left over can also get frozen for use later in a stew or casserole.
- To roast a chicken, start by washing the carcass well. I always buy my chickens from a local meat market to ensure freshness and so that I don’t have to deal with internal organs. If your chicken does have organs inside, remove them for use later in your chicken broth.
- Once your bird is washed, place it breast side down and season it liberally with salt, pepper, garlic powder, poultry seasoning and any herbs that you like (marjoram, tarragon and rosemary are all great for roasted chicken).
- Layer your vegetables in the roasting pan and then place the chicken(s) on top of the veggies. If you don’t want the veggies to mix with the chicken drippings, many roasting pans comes with a grill that raises the bird so that you can separate the drippings from the veggies and meat. I always save the drippings in a glass jar to incorporate into my chicken broth for flavor.
Now that you have some great tasting chicken, you can make some yummy chicken broth too that can be used in a plethora of recipes in lieu of buying a can of broth at the store or using a bullion cube for broth (both of which contain loads of sodium, preservatives and MSGs).
My mom always taught me not to eat the chicken skin because it was so high in fat, but it was always the part that tasted the best since it was seasoned. Well, now you can enjoy all of the seasonings of the skin without feeling guilty! Once you have de-boned your chicken(s), you can use the leftover bones and skin to make chicken broth.
- Place the bones (even leftover bones from dinner, they will get sanitized in the process) and skin of one chicken into a large pot or dutch oven.
- Fill the pot with water until the bones are completely covered (usually this means filling the pot a little more than halfway full).
- Add a “glug” of vinegar, white or apple cider works well, and allow the mixture to sit out for 30 min. to an hour. The vinegar starts to break down the bones and will not affect the taste of the broth at all.
- Bring the mixture to a boil and then cut it back to simmer. You can let it simmer anywhere between 4-24 hours. You can add any vegetables (barring cruciferous veggies) and seasonings, such as salt or poultry seasoning, to the mixture anytime after it has boiled, but they should not simmer for more than four hours or they will give your broth a bitter taste. If you want to add parsley, it’s best to add it within the last 5-10 minutes of simmering since it can make the broth taste bitter if it simmers for very long.
- When the broth is done simmering, place a large bowl in the sink and place a colander on top for straining the bones from the broth. Then pour the broth into glass jars and allow to cool. I recommend measuring broth out in 2 cup measurements since that is usually what is called for in recipes. You can also freeze broth in an ice cube tray for smaller portions of broth you can use in recipes or when someone is sick.
Recommendations and Tips
The longer your broth simmers the more flavorful it will be but it will be more condensed, so you will have less of it. I usually put it on just before I go to bed at night and let it simmer for 8 hours while I sleep. An 8 hour simmer produces a pretty flavorful broth and I can usually fill two 2 cup containers halfway with the broth produced. For this first broth I don’t add any additional seasonings since the skin contains seasonings and because I’m letting it simmer for more than 4 hours.
After I have strained my broth, I put the bones and skin back in the same pot and start the process all over again. You can use the same bones to make broth up to three times but with each successive time, the broth will be weaker. I add water, vinegar, let it set 30 min. and then bring it to a boil. Once the mixture is boiling, I add my veggies (1/2 a large onion, 2 carrots and 2 celery stalks) and seasonings (salt and poultry seasoning). Since you won’t be consuming the veggies, you don’t have to peel carrots or even take the skins off the onions, so don’t stress too much about prepping them.
I let the broth simmer for 4 hours and then strain it and add it to the broth I had already made with the same bones. Below is the broth I made from just one 4 lb. chicken. I usually roast two chickens at a time, so I do the same thing to the second chicken’s bones and skin and I have plenty of chicken broth stored in the freezer for soups, casseroles, sick days, etc.