Don’t Be Afraid of a Raw Naked Chicken! {20 uses for a whole chicken}

image: salsachica (stock.xchng)

I can actually remember the first time I bought a “whole roasting chicken” at the grocery store. It only took 28 years of my life to build up the courage. I felt so mature and culinary, scooching the whole thing in a plastic bag in front of everybody. The part I remember, though, happened later in my kitchen while on the phone with my mom. I was staring at it plopped raw in the sink.

me: Do I rinse it off? Do I put it right in the pan? What do I do with the juice? (Couldn’t bring myself to say “blood.” I was going to try to eat this thing later, after all.)

mom: You can rinse if you want. But you’ll have to reach in there and take out the gizzards. Usually they wrap the gizzards up in the cavity.

(long pause)

me: the what? I have to do what?

That was when I was officially a grown-up, the day I fished plastic-sealed gizzards out of a raw chicken. I had arrived. {ps. WHY do they include shrink-wrapped gizzards in chickens??? Raise your hand if you ever in your life plan on using them. Hmmm. That’s what I thought!!!}

But hang on, I’m not doing such a good job selling you on the whole start-buying-a-whole-chicken thing, am I? Let me start over.

While dealing with the “whole roaster” does have about 3.5 minutes of definite grossness, It Is Well Worth It.

It impresses. It makes the house smell incredible. It’s frugal. It is a blank slate for a million dinners and just as many leftover lunches. And, it is super, super easy (minus the gizzard issue, but we’ll get to that.)

You see, if you make the simple Roasted Chicken in the Crockpot, you not only have one delicious meal, you also have:

  1. delicious leftover chicken for another recipe, and…
  2. a chicken carcass. Which you may be tempted to toss in the trash. For the love of everything good, DON’T!!!! A chicken carcass is a goose that lays the golden eggs! (Weird analogy, Jessica. Just odd.) But it is though! It’s the gift that keeps on giving! (?) Because….You can make homemade chicken broth!!

Doesn’t that just look delicious? It is so easy-cheesy, too. Homemade chicken broth saves you $10+ a month, is lower-sodium, with no-MSG or weird ingredients. Here’s how you make chicken broth.

ingredients. not pictured: chicken carcass. (you’re welcome.)

  • Take all the meat off the whole chicken. Put everything else back in a huge pot. Bones, skin –  everything. Fill the really big pot up with water. Then, add a few carrots, celery, and a large onion, all roughly chopped. Add a bay leaf, a good amount of salt, ground pepper, dried thyme, and some cloves of garlic, roughly chopped. Do you love how my instructions are so incredibly specific?
  • Bring your pot to a boil. Then, lower to a simmer and let it just hang out for 1-2 hours.
  • Take the pan off the heat and let it cool off a while. When it’s warm but not hot, put a strainer on top of a giant bowl and pour your broth over. And ta-da, CHICKEN BROTH! I store mine in containers like these:

I usually end up with about 4 containers of these of broth. Soooo, from just one little chicken, you now have one delicious dinner, leftover chicken meat, chicken broth, and so many possibilities! (super-obvious note: Not saying you can make 20 meals from one chicken. Here are your 20 meal ideas for chicken meat and/or broth! If there is a favorite recipe I use, I linked to it.

  1. Your roasted rotisserie chicken dinner. Of course, you could also cook your whole chicken in the oven, in which case you would want to use this recipe. But the thing is, no matter how wonderful a cook the Barefoot Contessa is, she is not standing in your kitchen with you, and thus, cannot help you determine if the poultry is fully cooked. I will leave it at that, and not tell you about the time I hosted my sister and brother-in-law to serve them roast chicken. I just won’t tell you about that time. So I recommend the crockpot method. It is literally foolproof. As long as you don’t forget to turn the crockpot on in the morning. (Who would do that?? Hmmm.) All you have to do is open the chicken plastic, take out the you-know-whats, plop the chicken in the crockpot, cover with spices, cook for 8 hours. Viola. Rotisserie Chicken. I recommend serving this with some homemade mashed potatoes, apple sauce, and a spinach salad. Or french fries and biscuits. You choose. So now here are 20 more recipes to use up your chicken broth and/or leftover chicken!
  2. chicken enchiladas
  3. white chicken chili
  4. roasted chicken paninis (ask my cousin Molly for a recipe, and I bet she got it from Giada deLaurentis.)
  5. buffalo chicken pizza
  6. Chicken, avocado, bacon, tomato, lettuce, and lime mayonnaise sandwiches (I made that up. Very tricky. Just add all the ingredients I just listed.)
  7. chicken pot pie  – the world’s most perfect comfort food
  8. chicken enchilada soup
  9. chicken mexican casserole (surprisingly really good, even without the cheese)
  10. chicken fried rice (no one in the whole world makes it as good as my sister Julie. Recipe, Julie??)
  11. Baked Chicken Taquitos
  12. Carmelized Onion and Chicken Tostadas
  13. Black Bean soup
  14. Risotto
  15. French Onion soup
  16. Ham and Bean soup
  17. Potato Corn Chowder (thanks to my friend Katie for this suggestion)
  18. Katie’s Mexican Stew (hey, thanks for that one, too, Kate!)
  19. Southwestern Chicken Salad with cilantro vinegarette
  20. Simple, sweet, and spicy chicken wraps

Whew! I am chickened out! You’re welcome!! :)

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One thought on “Don’t Be Afraid of a Raw Naked Chicken! {20 uses for a whole chicken}

  1. Wish I could share my chicken fried rice but I’ve never written it down! I’ll do that next time….

    And even if the chicken had to go back in the oven twice… you were a great host:)

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