Personally, I absolutely love roasted chicken. One chicken can make gluten free, dairy free meal preparations a breeze for days and that is all right by me! I think chicken pairs well with pretty much everything! I also find a great deal of pleasure coming up with new and unique chicken dishes.
I do choose to eat meat, mostly chicken and fish. I lived many years as a vegetarian for ethical and moral reasons. For health reasons, I chose a vegan way of eating for nearly a year. Ultimately, what I have learned is I feel my best when there is a moderate amount of animal protein in my diet. So, with this choice, I am mindful of where my meat comes from and that it is the “happiest” meat I can afford. By “happiest” I mean local, raised humanely, antibiotic and hormone free, organic, free range and best of best when I have the extra money; grass fed.
Blessed be that I can have that choice. It was not always that way. Because remembering that eating chicken was a luxury rarely afforded and to honor the life of the chicken that provided me food to eat, I believe in using as much of a whole chicken as I can. My own personal roasted chicken challenge stems from this belief. I challenge myself to make the most meals out of each roasted chicken, always attempting to ‘up’ my last chicken challenge in the amount of dishes I can make.
I am not quite sure when it began that I would count the number of meals a roasted chicken would provide, but I believe it began with my first roasted chicken I prepared after a long absence from meat. I enjoyed that chicken at nearly every meal for over a week. I ate so many chicken meals that a friend actually commented on how long I had been eating from this same roasted chicken.
Each time I begin a chicken challenge it takes me to a place of remembrance. Remembering when I could barely afford a can of chicken soup, let alone a whole chicken. It also reminds me that I now have food security. I can take care of myself and I can do so in the way I feel is best for me because I can afford to make this choice. I always have to give a moment of grateful thanks when I have this realization, which is often. I know access to good, whole food and quality ingredients is a “luxury” not accessible to so many. Quality, organic, non-GMO foods should not be a “luxury”. I’ll share more on my beliefs around food security, hunger and lack of access in another post. For now, in my preparations of just one roasted chicken, I am reminded that I can be resourceful and I can be cost efficient. I can provide meals for not just myself, but my household for days. I can do all of these things and adhere to my personal belief system and food philosophy. This gives me such deeply felt satisfaction.
I ask you to consider having your own roasted chicken challenge by trying out some of these great chicken dish recipes I came up with. In addition to the meat from the chicken itself, I made a broth with the remaining chicken parts and vegetables I used to roast the chicken. I put some into mason jars for the freezer and I used some to make a wonderful chicken noodle soup. The meat from the chicken was enjoyed sliced with veggie sides, it was used to make burritos, stir-fry and breakfast sandwiches. In total we enjoyed about 15 individual meals with this one chicken. That’s a conservative guess because I lost count there were so many delicious meals!
How many meals can you provide with your own whole chicken?
For this chicken, I used celery, parsley, a lemon, carrots, yellow onion, minced garlic (from a jar because I had no fresh!) I sat the chicken on a bed of the sliced veggies as well as stuffing the cavity with all the veggies you see here except the carrots. I slid a few veggies under the skin and topped it with a spice combination of garlic salt, pepper, paprika, basil and turmeric. I spread the carrots around the chicken, added 1 1/2 cups of water and put into a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes, turning it down to 250 degrees and roasting until done, about 2 1/4 hours for a 3 (ish) pound chicken.