We have roast chicken every couple of weeks or so (a nice large one from the butcher), and I reckon to feed 5 of us hot (I rub the chicken with crushed garlic, salt, pepper and either tarragon, thyme or marjoram, then pour a little olive oil over it before whacking it in the oven), then I usually get a delicious salad from the leftover meat, or I make a chicken curry - either thai green or Indian-style - and that usually serves 5 again with lots of added vegetables, and then I can usually get enough stock from the carcass to make 3 large batches of soup. At the moment, my family is rather hooked on a (coconut, but don't tell them!) "cream" of courgette/zucchini and tarragon soup or a spinach/mixed greens soup. I also save any leftover vegetables and turn them into a vegetable soup once or twice a week. This is great for freezing and using for quick meals when time is short and inspiration is low!
I'm very boring, I just rinse, pat dry, slather outer carcass in butter and season, stuff cavity with raw onion and lemon quarters and fresh thyme and garlic, bung in an appropriately sized roasting tray and cook at 170oC (electric fan) for 20 mins per 500g plus 20 mins if necessary. You know it's done when the leg can be wiggled loose and the juices run clear. If I can spare bacon that goes over the breasts like a meat bra. To avoid dry meat, cover it in a tinfoil hat, but remove for final 20 mins to get crispy skin. I always let my meat rest for about 20 mins: transfer to warm plate, wrap in tinfoil and drape clean teatowel over the top to insulate. Don't forget to pour the meat juices which are released as the chick relaxes back into the roasting pan. To the roasting pan add a good slosh of wine plus extra stock or water and set over a medim heat. Chuck in a bay leaf and seasoning and give the pan a good scrape with a wooden spoon to get the crispy caramelised bits off the bottom while the liquid is reducing and alcohol is being burned off. Now you have roast chicken with a decent jus. In my house we hack off chunks or neat slices depending on the company.
After the meal, I take the cold carcass and strip it of all edible meat. I conserve any crispy skin with the meat but and soggy skin gets binned. Meat and skin are chopped and transfered to an airtight tupperware container and stored in the fridge. This meat is good for lettuce wraps with homemade mayo, salads, soups, snacking, omelettes (although I personally can't bear egg and chicken together).
What's left of your chicken is bone, cartilage and connective tissue, and this is used for stock. Tear it all up into manageable chunks and bag it in dated sandwich bags and bung it in the freezer if you won't be making stock straight away. On stock making day, take your carcass(es), preferably some chicken feet heads or necks if you can find them and put them in a crockpot / slow cooker or large saucepan. For a traditional flavour add onion, celery, carrot, bay, garlic, black peppercorns and a splash of apple cider vinegar. I also like asian style; ginger, garlic, galangal, chilli, lemongrass etc. Pour over enough cool, filtered water to cover the bones. Then leave to simmer, 24 hrs in the slow cooker or as long as you can safely do so on the hob. Obviously cooled broth can then be bagged and frozen too. And there's the life of a chicken from store to tummy, every last scrap.
Also, you can poach whole chickens instead of roasting them, just cover with cool water and add veg to enhance the flavour as before. Then cover and simmer until cooked, depends on the size of the bird. This produces very moist meat which is easy to shred and nice to eat with a mole, and the cooking water becomes a light broth which can be used to make soups, or you can bung the carcass as described back in and make a super-broth! Discard the skin, it'll be icky.
Hope this helps.
Thanks to everyone for such good suggestions! I can't wait to give some of them a whirl. I'm especially looking forward to the fact that one chicken roast can lead to leftover meals (meat for BAS, broth for soup, etc.) And I am eager to try spatchcocking one of the chickens, too!
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