Thursday, March 13, 2014

One Chicken... Three Dinners

I love finding whole chicken on sale. For $1.99 per pound you can't go wrong and I know I have dinner covered for the next two or three nights. We are a family of five so I typically look for a 3-1/2 pounder (1.75 kg) to make a roast for dinner and easily have leftovers for the next day. I also love this size because it fits just right in my toaster oven and saves me from using the big oven and electricity too. This is what I do to get a perfect roast.

1) Preheat toaster oven to 375 F. Rub the inside cavity of the chicken with salt and ground black pepper. Stuff with a quartered lemon and a small quartered onion  along with 5 coarsely chopped garlic. Citrus gives a juicier bird and makes it fragrant when it steams;
2) Place chicken breast-side up on rack in roasting pan. Rub all over surface and bottom with 2 Tbsp. softened butter, salt and pepper. Untie the legs and tuck wings underneath. I find the skin of the legs are crispier when not bound together;

3) Roast, uncovered for 1-3/4 hours or until leg moves easily and thermometer reads 170F in thickest part of thigh. TIP: I like to roast for 1/2 hour, then turn it upside down to roast the bottom for another 1/2 hour. I turn up the dial to broil at 450F for the last ten minutes to crisp up the skin. This also allows the juice to drip down and baste the breast making it more succulent. I turn the heat back down to 375F and flip the bird around one last time roasting the remainder of the time until thoroughly cooked.

4) Remove chicken onto cutting board and tent loosely with foil for ten minutes; this allows the chicken to rest, juice to redistribute and to firm up for easier slicing. Pour out the cooked chicken liquid from the roasting pan into a bowl and skim off the fat to serve as gravy.

I like to carve the chicken into wings, legs and breasts (6 pieces) in total which gets divided up again at the table. Usually the kids have the drumsticks and a thigh, my husband a thigh and wing, and I, the back and a wing. If we are still hungry we dig into part of the breasts but usually these are leftover for chicken sandwich lunches or dinner the next day. We love having vegetables and a salad as sides to round everything out, and often steamed rice or quinoa too. 

Save the carcass, stuffing and additional bones onto a plate to make chicken soup on another day.
As usual, two chicken breast remains, and that will be the base of next day's dinner... Mexican chicken fajitas!

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