Friday, July 8, 2011

A Year of Living Frugally-Oven Roast Chicken

I think one of the best frugal eating foods is a roasted or rotisserie chicken. I try to buy a roasted chicken at least once a month. It's great for a good meal, and the best part is the leftovers! I love to make chicken salad with leftover chicken, and the chicken carcass makes delicious chicken soup. Yesterday I went to the store with the intention of buying a pre-roasted chicken from the deli. Often, they have these on sale for around $5.00. Since Doug and I can usually get at least 2 meals out of one chicken, I consider that a bargain. Unfortunately, roasted chicken was not on sale and was at full price of $6.99. I will admit that I am cheap. It was just $2.00 more than what I liked to pay. Still, $2.00 is $2.00. So I went over to the meat counter and was pleasantly surprised to find whole chickens for $0.79 a pound. I found a decent chicken for $3.50. Suddenly my inner Julia Child kicked in and I knew that I could make something spectacular.

I went home and found my favorite roasting pan. I scrounged in the fridge and came up with a few carrots, an onion and some garlic and some of my beloved Trader Joe's Pesto in a jar. I pulled some olive oil and salt and pepper out of the cupboard and I was ready to go. I diced up the veggies and put them in the roasting pan. On top, I placed the chicken. I wiped the whole chicken down with paper towels, then salt and peppered the inside and out generously. Then I mixed a TBSP of the jarred pesto with 1/4 cup of olive oil and smeared this mixture over the whole chicken. Placing it in the roasting pan, I then trussed the legs together (cuz that's what Julia Child would do!) and placed the chicken breast side down in the roasting pan. This went into my oven at 350 degrees. I roasted it like this for an hour, then pulled it out, and turned it over. and added some diced potatoes to the pan,  and returned it to the oven for another 45 minutes. I double checked with the meat thermometer that it was done, and pulled it out. I scooped out the veggies and half the drippings-aka the luscious chicken nectar, for use later. The rest, I used to make a yummy wine sauce. Chicken drippings, 2 TBSP of butter and a cup of white wine (I had Charles Shaw Pinot on hand, but you can use any wine, really).  I let this little mixture bubble away while I whisked it on the stove, until it was a delectable saucy texture. The chicken was very moist and tender, and falling off the bone. The wine sauce tasted yummy over the meat and roasted veggies. Doug declared it was one of my best dinners yet. I had to agree. I think we did the whole meal for around $5.00, and had enough leftover chicken for a second meal. A frugal success!

Here are my two favorite recipes for left over roasted chicken.

Chicken Carcass Soup.

All bones and skin  from leftover roasted chicken, as well as any the chicken drippings from the container or pan.
2 quarts of water.
2 TBSP OF Chicken Soup Base (I like Orrington Farms, found in the soup aisle in the grocery store)
1 onion, chopped
2-3 cloves of garlic.
1 tsp of pesto OR 1 tsp poultry seasoning
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 bag of frozen mixed vegetable
1 cup of uncooked pasta of your choice

Bring everything except the frozen veggies and pasta to a boil, then turn down to a simmer for an hour. Go through the broth with a slotted spoon and pull out the bones and skin pieces. If you really want to skim off the fat on top you can, or you can leave it. It is good either way. Now add the frozen veggies and pasta, and bring the heat back up to a low boil, until the pasta is done. Serve.

Fruity Chicken Salad

2 full cups of shredded roasted chicken
1/8 of cup of slivered almonds
1 small  (6 oz) can of crushed pineapple
1/2 cup of mayo
2 stalks of celery chopped.
1/2 cup of seedless grapes sliced or quartered
salt and pepper to taste

Mix all the above ingredients and then refrigerate for at least an hour before serving. This is great on a croissant or on top of a lettuce salad. YUM!

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