Thursday, 29 December 2011

Getting the Most From Your Roast Chicken

I have long bleated on, to anyone who will listen, about how one roast chicken can see you through at least 4 family meals. I was horrifed, when I watched the Chicken Out programme a few years ago and saw Hayley dishing up what looked like half a chicken for each person for their Sunday lunch. Watching her telling Hugh how she could buy 2 supermarket chickens for £5, I made the decision there and then to buy higher welfare (and therefore more expensive) meat and just make it go further.

And go further, it does. When I think back to when I used to buy the standard supermarket chickens, I sometimes found a lot of mysterious water bubbling away in the roasting tin, making the chicken soggy. The meat on the legs wasn't as dark as on the organic chickens we now buy, and looking back, I can see that they lacked so much flavour. The texture of the meat seems different, too. With a good quality chicken, it seems to be more dense, fibrous and you don't need as much of it to make a meal. So it goes much further.

The meals below are based on a large 2.8kg organic, free-range chicken that we roasted and ate for our Christmas dinner. All meals generously fed 2 adults and 2 children; I didn't try to be frugal with it, and could probably have made it go even further if I wanted to. When it's not Christmas, I'll normally buy a 1.4kg chicken and it will still get us through 4 meals - just maybe not as many sandwiches. For that sized chicken, we'll still get the roast, 2 extra dinners and a soup or risotto. The chicken used below cost me £18.

Meal 1: Roast Chicken with all the Trimmings
Christmas dinner, We each ate a generous amount of chicken, alongside roast potatoes, cocktail sausages wrapped in bacon, sprouts (with more bacon), stuffing, vegetables and gravy.

Meal 2: Sandwiches
We used the leftover chicken to make 4 sandwiches - along with any other parts of the roast that were left over, including stuffing and leftover bacon. They were lovely with a sauce - any of the following works well: cranberry sauce/mayonnaise/sweet chilli sauce/mango chutney.

Meal 3: Cold Cuts
This is the Monday night dinner I always ate as a child. The roast meat leftover from Sunday lunch served cold, alongside chips, pickle and salad. We had a good handful of chicken each.

Meal 4: Chicken Curry
The leftover meat was dropped into a pan of curry sauce - I used Patak's special Christmas sauce as it was handy and in the cupboard, but you can use any sauce or make your own. This one tasted fruity and mild - perfect for leftover chicken or turkey. Just cut into cubes, drop it in, give it a stir, and heat it thoroughly. We ate ours with plain, boiled rice.

Meal 5: Risotto
I always keep the bones from a roast chicken (or duck) and boil them to make the most amazing soup or stock. For something most people just throw away, the bones have a huge amount of flavour. I used this, on the final night, to make a tasty, warming risotto.

The Maths:
  • 5 meals x 4 people = 20 servings in total.
  • £18 ÷ 20 servings = 90 pence per serving.
Did I mention that's organic, free-range chicken, as well?

What are your tips for making a roast go further?