All of us today are concerned about the health and safety of our food and especially the food we put on our family tables. When my kids were growing up I would rather them harvest and process a wild turkey than use industrial chicken that is so full of antibiotics and hormones. So we began to raise our own chickens and eggs on pasture for our family.
That is something I felt good about. I feel the same today.
Rain Crow Ranch chickens are raised by our neighbors, the Protiva Family. They do such a great job and the chickens are wonderful. Raised on pasture without any antibiotics, no hormones and non-GMO grains. Poultry you can feel good about feeding your family. This is a better way for the birds, better for the land and better for the health and safety of our families. Yes, it costs a little more but you can learn how to purchase with respect and make it stretch.
That is the purpose of this post, how to literally make one chicken feed your family for an entire week.
Begin with a whole large Rain Crow Ranch pasture raised chicken.
Remove the neck and reserve to use when you make stock.
Wash your chicken with cold running water. Pat dry with paper towels.
Generously season with your favorite seasoning. I love the AGA (American Grassfed Association) seasoning which are specially made for pasture raised beef, pork and poultry.
I also love to add fresh herbs to the body cavity of the bird. You can use what you like but my favorites are sage, thyme and rosemary.
Place the bird on a pan that has a small rack to keep off the bottom of pan. Bake at 325 degrees.
The time will vary with the size of the bird but I usually cook at 325 for a couple of hours and then turn the oven down to 300 and bake until it reaches 170 on the meat thermometer. A word about meat thermometers, I have researched and tested a large number of types and by far the very best is a digital instant read Thermapen Thermometer by ThermoWorks. I love it. You can buy it on Amazon by clicking here.
Once, the bird reaches 170 degrees remove from the oven and allow to rest on a cutting board for 10-15 minutes.
Cut the chicken into serving slices, selecting your favorite white or dark meat.
Serve with your favorite side dishes for meal number one:
I now debone the rest of the chicken and dice into large pieces reserving for use in our remaining meals.
Your baked chicken leftovers will help you add protein to many easy meals when you toss baked chicken in a salad or garnish pizzas and flatbread.
Flatbreads are fun to make and can be tailored to fit your individual tastes. Here are some of our favorites.
Buffalo Chicken Flatbread
Make a simple buffalo sauce. I use ½ Franks hot sauce and ½ melted butter.
Place a small amount of chicken into the sauce to soak in the flavor
Add the buffalo chicken to the flatbread and top with sliced celery and blue cheese. Broil for a few minutes to melt the cheese.
Roasted Vegetables and Chicken Flatbread
Roast an assortment of you favorite veggies or use leftovers. I roast my favorite veggies tossed with olive oil at 400 degrees until slightly browned.
Add chicken and top with cheese such as asiago and mozzarella.
Broil until toasty.
Chicken Flatbread with Tomatoes and Spinach
Assemble the chicken, grape tomatoes and spinach on the flatbread and cover with cheese.
Run under the broiler to melt the cheese.
They are additional great ideas on how to use leftover baked chicken for additional meals.
Do NOT throw out your chicken bones. They are the best part of baking chicken.
One “sure fire” method to have many meals with your chicken is to use the bones which most people throw away.
Homemade Chicken Broth
Remember the old fashioned remedy for sickness was mom’s chicken soup? Bones make gelatin which is super nutritious. Plus it tastes great.
Gourmet restaurants do not use canned broth. Their secret to rich flavors in sauces and soups is slow cooked bone broth.
Always collect your throw away kitchen scraps of carrots, onions, celery, leeks, scallions, garlic, etc. You can put your scraps in the refrigerator or freezer until you are ready to use them in your broth.
Think of chicken bones and kitchen scraps as free meals from typically thrown away ingredients
Put the chicken bones and skin in a large stock pot with onions, celery, your favorite herbs from your garden and cover with water. Don’t forget to throw in that gorgeous neck bone you saved.
Add a dash of apple cider vinegar or lemon to help leach the minerals and calcium.
Cover the pot with a tight fitting lid and place in the oven overnight or up to 12 hours. Cook at 200 degrees.
Allow the stock to cool and strain out the vegetables and herbs. If any meat remains, leave it in the chicken broth. Pour the stock into a container and put into the refrigerator or freezer.
Did you know that you can freeze chicken broth in mason jars?
Check your mason jars . . . most have a freeze line. Stay below the line with your cooled broth and you are safe.
Now that you have pints and quarts of broth . . . there are literally thousands of uses for homemade broth. Here are a few ideas:
Substitute chicken broth for oil when sautéing vegetables like spinach or green beans
Substitute chicken broth for water when making rice or soups
Add chicken stock to mushroom sauces
You can drink a cup or more a day of plain chicken broth for its health benefits
Don’t forget to make some chicken soup
Take that wonderful stock you made (so much better than canned) and to the broth add vegetables that you simply have on hand.
In my refrigerator I found spinach, corn, leftover rice, carrots plus some of my leftover baked chicken.
Cook the broth over medium heat until the vegetables are tender; then turn down to simmer.
Add the rice and chicken. Allow to simmer while you make a roux.
Melt ½ stick of butter and add ½ cup of flour in skillet. Stir the roux until it thickens and slightly darkens to an amber color.
Add part of the stock to the roux to mix until smooth and thickened.
Add the roux to the simmering stock stirring all the time. Add salt and pepper to taste. Let simmer for 30 or so then serve with a big hunk of bread or crackers.
As you can see . . . with a little creativity . . . one baked chicken has soooo many possibilities for a week of healthy meals.