Aug 10, 2017
Haven's Kitchen Summer School: Protein

Going into our seventh week in #havenskitchencookbook Summer School, we’ve got protein on our mind. This week, Karen Nicoletti encourages you to shed your fears of buying and roasting a whole chicken.

 

 roast_chicken_plated_700

 

We all know that feeling — it’s Monday on the commute home from work, and that end-of-day relief is just washing over us when the thought hits: what’s the plan for dinner? Often I find myself hovering over the refrigerator case in my grocery store, debating how much chicken to buy. I’m cooking for myself, or maybe two to three people, and anxiety about food going to waste guides my hand towards small packs of pre-cut chicken. Two days later, I’m back at the store staring at the same old cuts of meat and asking myself the same questions.

 

Roasting an entire chicken can seem intimidating, maybe even excessive — how can we make use of the whole thing without the unfamiliar parts going to waste? With a good plan of attack, you can make three meals from one roasted chicken, using each part for a different dish.

 

In The Haven’s Kitchen Cooking School, our Fish, Fowl & Meat chapter discusses how understanding the fundamentals of heat will make it easier to have confidence when preparing protein. Ali shares that many of her students have told her they’re intimidated to cook meat and often feel that they don’t have control over the results of their labors. She outlines the types of dry and moist heat most commonly used in preparing meats, and illustrates them with various recipes and preparations.

 

summer_chicken_soup_700

Pho sure. This chicken soup is going to make you happier than a movie theater when it’s 99°F outside. 

Focusing in on roasting as a dry heat method, we recommend a few steps to prepare your whole chicken. Removing the wishbone before roasting makes it easier to carve more meat once the chicken is finished, and removing the excess fat and skin prevents the chicken from getting smoky in the oven. Trussing a chicken lays the legs over the narrower parts of the breast, ensuring that the whole chicken will cook evenly. Tempering the meat (pulling it out of the fridge and letting it sit for 30 minutes) is an important step in ensuring evenly cooked meat. Don’t be afraid of heat, either. Many people often have problems with roasting because they aren’t using a high enough heat to caramelize and brown their meat and vegetables. A high oven temperature will guarantee crispy skin and chicken that’s not dried out. Plan on 15 minutes of cooking time per pound, and preheat the oven to 425°F while you truss and temper your bird.

 

And salt! It’s always tempting to take it easy on the salt — and it can feel guilty to really go to town covering the skin of your whole chicken. But remember, you’re only salting at the surface, and you need enough salt on there for it to set into the meat and flavor it all the way through.

This is how you properly salt a bird.

Once you’ve prepared and enjoyed that first meal of roasted chicken and your favorite vegetables and sides, you can use our grid as a jumping off point to prepare a few more meals with what’s left. Consider the parts of the chicken you want to use, the items in your pantry, and the produce and herbs in season to make combinations that appeal to you. 

 

THREE MEALS, ONE CHICKEN

 

Chicken Part

Pantry

Produce

Chicken Salad
on Toast

Breast

Yogurt

Tarragon,
Cucumber

Chicken Tacos

Leg Meat

Tortillas

Tomatoes, Onions,
Lime

Summer
Chicken Soup

Chicken Bone
Broth

Rice Noodles

Cilantro, Mint,
Thai Basil, Chilis

 

Like all of our favorite preparations, this approach to working with a whole chicken is flexible. You can adjust the meals and ingredients to your preferences and the ingredients you may already have on hand. A chicken salad made of diced breast meat mixed with yogurt, chopped tarragon and chives, lemon zest, and Dijon mustard is great on toast and garnished with sliced cucumbers and chives.

 

chicken_salad_toast_700You can make it better than your mother’s tea party chicken salad.

 

If it’s the dark meat from the legs that you have to spare, shredding it and heating with your favorite salsa will set you up nicely for a meal of chicken tacos. All that’s left will be to assemble the meat on tortillas topped with pico de gallo and a drizzle of yoghurt.

 

tacos_2_700If a girl named Laurie Ellen says she’s going to make you tortillas, make sure you eat five. Live without regrets especially when it has lard.
 

And of course, the best way to make use of a chicken carcass is to make a broth, simmering the bones with produce you may already have at home: onion, carrot, bay leaf, and celery. Even this extra meal is flexible – you can store the carcass in the freezer until you have some time at home to make a stock, or store the stock until you’re ready to make soup.

 

As an avid devotee to soups of all kinds, I make soups year-round, through the summer, without hesitation. It’s easy to lighten up a summer chicken soup with rice noodles, chili peppers, and herbs such as mint and cilantro. My favorite thing about making my own soup is that every batch is different. I’ll raid my fridge, then chop and add ingredients until I get too hungry to wait any longer. It’s this kind of flexibility that makes the process fun and creative, and helps us to use up what we already have in order to limit food waste — and it applies to soups, roasted chicken, and beyond.

 

Watch Ali make salads with the one and only Hannah Bronfman. Follow along as we cook our way this summer through our cookbook, The Haven’s Kitchen Cooking School. Find our stories on our blog, Instagram, Facebook or through our hashtags: #havenskitchencookbook, #hknycookbook and #cookwithconfidence.

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