Each season, I fall into a pattern with my cooking. Grilled meat and fresh veggies in the summer, chili as soon as it’s chilly outside, and roasted chickens at least once a week from September through May.
Roasted whole chicken is really the perfect food. Juicy and flavorful, a combo of white and dark meat (legs for me, please!), and the crispy skin that is better than any potato chip.
And, even better, it’s an entrée that you cook once and can eat multiple times. I’ll roast a chicken on Sunday, and we’ll eat some of it with simple sides like mashed potatoes and sautéed greens. I’ll pull the rest of the chicken, and then it’s ready for WHATEVER. Stir into soup; add to a green salad; make a panini.
What comes next is the magic part.
I didn’t take advantage of this magic for years, and I wish someone would have schooled me sooner. Until a few months ago, I would pull all the meat off the chicken carcass, and then I’d toss the bones.
What was I thinking?!
Now I know better. I put the carcass – bones, skin, and all – in the crockpot. I fill the crockpot with water. I turn it on low, leave it overnight or longer, and THAT’S IT. That’s chicken stock.
When I wake up in the morning, the whole house smells like a vat of chicken soup, and that’s not as gross as it sounds. It’s the best.
Even without adding any extra seasonings or aromatics, this stock tastes 10 times better than the stuff in the carton. And it’s FREE!
I’ll freeze half of it and put the rest in the fridge. Later in the week, I’ll use it to make soup. This one, with red lentils, butternut squash, and russet potatoes, is my current favorite.
MAGICAL ROASTED CHICKEN
- Preheat the oven to 425. This is HOT, so anything on the floor of the oven will smoke. Turning on your hood fan is a good idea (I learned this the hard way).
- Dry the chicken (around 5 lbs) thoroughly with paper towels. Put the chicken, breast side up, in a cast iron skillet. Tie the legs together with kitchen twine. Season heavily, inside and out, with salt and pepper.
- Roast for 25 minutes at 425.
- Reduce the heat to 350. Baste the chicken all over with olive oil.
- Roast for 45 more minutes, basting with olive oil every 15 minutes.
- Take the chicken’s temperature by inserting an instant-read thermometer into the thigh of the chicken (picture of what this looks like up top!). This is the thickest part of the bird, and dark meat takes longer to cook than white. The bird is ready to remove from the oven when the thigh registers at 165 degrees. The drumstick should also be very wiggly, like the bone will slip right out. This may take an additional 10 minutes or so.
- Let the chicken rest, tented with foil, for at least 10 minutes while you finish preparing the rest of the meal. (The skin will lose some of its crispness when you tent the chicken, so eat a little first!)
Chicken roasting method inspired by What’s Gaby Cooking.
FREE CHICKEN STOCK
- Add the chicken carcass and any leftover skin to the crock of a slow cooker. Mine is 6 quarts.
- Add water to fill the crock.
- Turn the slow cooker to low, and let the broth simmer for at least 12 hours (overnight).
- Turn the slow cooker off. Let the broth cool for about an hour.
- Strain the broth through a mesh strainer into a large container. Discard the solids. BE CAREFUL; it will still be hot.
- Use for whatever your heart desires. Some of my faves: boil egg noodles in the stock, add chicken and frozen peas; egg drop soup; minestrone with meatballs; and farro soup. Stock keeps for several months in the freezer.
Good luck! Let me know what ✨magic✨ you cook up.
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