When it comes to time-saving gimmicks and 30-minute meals, I generally move along without too much thought. I like the time I spend in the kitchen; it's my me-time, an hour (or two!) at the end of the day, when I can realistically tell myself that all I need to concentrate on is the task at hand. So people who are like me, don't flick past this tip. It's not a gimmick, but a tried and true way to get the most bang out of your buck, or in this case, your chicken. Roast one chicken, eat for four days. Don't believe me? Take a look!
Note: This plan is for two people over four days. If you are serving more people, just roast another chicken at the same time!
Day 1: Roast Chicken
Get a good organic chicken for roasting; it's going to be the main expense for four meals, so you can afford to splurge a little and get a bird that's been taken care of. Fresh, free-range chickens have so much more flavor than supermarket brands!
Tonight, you're making a simple roast chicken. You can dress it up a bit if you want to, but a good organic chicken doesn't need more than salt and dry heat.
First, rinse your chicken inside and out, and pat it dry with paper towels. If you have time, do this in the morning, then season liberally with salt, and leave the chicken uncovered in the fridge until you're ready to make dinner. This will dry out the skin and make it crispier.
When you're ready, preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Place your chicken on a rack over a baking dish, and when the oven comes up to temp, place the chicken inside and roast for about an hour and a half (for a 6 pound chicken). You'll know the chicken is done when a leg joint moves freely if you lift it.
Add mashed potatoes and vegetables, and your first night's dinner is done!
Variations: To change up this simple recipe, consider adding more seasonings. Herbs should be placed inside the cavity or under the skin of the breast meat. You can also stuff the cavity with lemons, garlic cloves or spices; just be aware that whatever seasonings you use will come through in the dishes for the next three days.
Prep for tomorrow: Remove all of the meat from the chicken bones and shred with two forks. Place in a sealed container. Take the cleaned bones and place them in a heavy stock pot. Cover them with cold water, and heat, uncovered, for about five to seven hours over low heat. Pour the fat that has collected in the roasting pan into a container. Allow it to cool, then cover and refrigerate.
Day 2: Chicken Quesadillas
The leftover shredded chicken from last night makes quick and easy quesadillas. Try chicken with shredded cheese and avocado. Layer the ingredients between two tortillas and cook about a minute or two on each side in a lightly greased pan. Serve with sour cream, salsa and hot sauce!
Variations: Quesadilla options are endless. For some great ideas, try:
Day 3: Quick Chicken Noodle Soup
Remember that chicken stock you made? Now it's time to use it! Bring a quart of stock to a simmer and taste it for seasoning; it probably needs salt! Then add:
- 3 carrots, diced
- 1 stalk celery, minced
- 1 1/2 cups uncooked pasta or pastine
Cook for about 10 minutes, or until the carrots are tender but still toothsome. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and serve!
Variations: The possibilities here are endless! Sub rice for chicken for chicken-and-rice soup, or throw in extra pieces of chicken if you have some leftover. You can also change up the vegetables, or even add chopped tomatoes for a tomato-noodle soup. Here are some of our favorite chicken stock recipes:
Day 4: Omelette
Aha! You thought you were out of chicken! But you still have that little container of schmaltz (chicken fat) left in the fridge, and it lends a superb flavor to a simple French-style omelette. French omelettes are meant to be left a bit wet in the center, but if you don't like that, you can always leave it to cook a bit longer.
Break eight eggs into a large mixing bowl, and whisk in about a teaspoon of salt and a few grinds of fresh black pepper. Add 2-3 tablespoons of crème fraiche or sour cream.
Heat the schmaltz in a skillet over medium heat, and pour the egg mixture in. Allow it to sit without stirring for 2 minutes, then, using a spatula, scrape the bottom from the sides to the center so a pile of curds forms in the middle of the skillet. Then allow the omelette to continue cooking until the edges start to release from the pan. Begin lifting them, bit by bit, from the sides, until they are no longer stuck. Turn off the heat but leave the skillet on the burner, and cover the pan. Allow to sit for about four minutes. The omelette should look wet. Serve in wedges with ratatouille or salad.
Variations: Omelettes are a great clean-out-the-fridge meal. You can throw anything, from leftover roasted vegetables to shredded cheese onto your omelette. For the best results with a French-style omelette like this one, bring all of the ingredients to room temperature while you're preparing the omelette, and then throw them on top just before you cover the pan.
Image: Jameel Winter