Everlasting Chicken

With a little creativity, a simple Sunday dinner can become a week’s worth of meals.

March 7, 2016

Issue 17: March/April 2016Sonoran Skillet

One of my favorite things to do on a Sunday is to roast a chicken, and then see how many meals I can get out of it over the week. Using a quality, locally raised bird is pricey, but you’ll make sure not to waste a bit of it, and the taste is markedly better. Many chefs recommend using a small chicken for more flavor and tenderness. Here, I used a four-pound bird from Josh’s Foraging Fowls farm, located near Willcox and available at the Tucson CSA. You may need to adjust the cooking time depending on the size of your bird. A good meat thermometer is a must.

Since you’ll have the oven on full blast for an hour or so, take advantage of the heat and roast your veggies for the week. This is one of the many tips I cherish from Tamar Adler’s An Everlasting Meal. I like to roast my veggies separately from the chicken, because I am particular about getting a nice brown sear on them. But if you like, you could toss the potatoes in the chicken pan in the last 30 minutes. Roast other veggies (here, acorn squash and fennel) and cook some lentils while your chicken is roasting away. Store all this goodness for a salad later in the week. (Cold roasted vegetables are my jam, but you could re-warm gently.) Whip up your dressing on Sunday, too. Store it away like a squirrel in the fall. This dressing is tangy and thickened by tahini rather than the emulsifiers in store-bought dressings.

After I finish roasting my veggies and bird, I immediately set about making stock. It’s truly a cinch if you use a crock pot. Once you carve the bird and pick off all usable meat, throw the bones into a large crock pot. Add a broken carrot and a couple of broken stalks of celery, a halved onion, any herb scraps you have lying around, a bay leaf, and a generous amount of salt. Set the crock pot on high for 6 hours or overnight. Taste and add more salt if needed. You can also accomplish this by simmering all the same ingredients in a pot for 1-2 hours. Strain, cool, and use in a few days for farrotto (basically, risotto made with farro), or freeze and use for soup. Homemade stock is ten times better than store-bought, and it creates no waste.

No matter what meals you’re cooking for the week, consider frittata as your Monday or Tuesday night leftover-reviver. Any little bits of veggies, greens, cured meats, or odd pieces of cheese will shine again in a frittata. Get creative and make up your own. A favorite frittata I made recently was with leftover roast broccoli, feta, and prosciutto. I often have leftovers, so I sandwich slices of cold frittata between buttered toast for an on-the-go breakfast.

Roasted Chicken with Herb Butter

3½-4 pounds organic local chickenshelby-thompson_everlasting-chicken_edible-baja-arizona_04

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature

2 tablespoons chopped herbs (thyme, sage, rosemary, or whatever you have)

1 lemon, halved

Fennel tops, chopped coarsely

5-6 new potatoes, cut into quarters

Pat the chicken dry and place in roasting dish. Season the cavity and outside with 1½ teaspoons salt. At this point, if you can let the chicken sit in the fridge overnight to absorb the salt, that’s great. If not, just leave out for 45 minutes to 1 hour, allowing the chicken to come to room temperature. (This step is crucial to getting the bird cooked through.) Meanwhile, preheat oven to 450 degrees. In a small bowl, mix the butter, ½ teaspoon salt, and herbs—I like to mush it in my hands and then apply directly to the chicken. Make pockets under the breast skins and deposit some butter there. Rub the rest over the breasts and legs. Stuff the cavity with halved lemon and fennel tops. 

Truss the chicken with kitchen twine, tucking in the wings and tying the legs together. Cook for 50 minutes to an hour, until the thigh registers 165 degrees on a meat thermometer, and juices run clear. If the chicken browns quickly before it is done, tent with foil to prevent burning.

Meanwhile, toss potatoes with olive oil and salt. Roast on a sheet pan on a rack under chicken for 25-30 minutes, turning the potatoes every 10 minutes to achieve a golden brown all over.

Allow chicken to rest 15 minutes before carving. Serve with roasted potatoes, maybe some greens and drizzle everything with those flavorful pan drippings.

Roasted Veggie and Lentil Salad

2 fennel bulbs, trimmed and sliced to ¼-inch thickshelby-thompson_everlasting-chicken_edible-baja-arizona_03

2 acorn squash, unpeeled and cut into half-moons

1½ cups French green lentils

4 cups water

1 teaspoon salt

2 cups arugula, torn

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Toss each vegetable with a little olive oil and salt. I like to roast all vegetables separately on sheet pans, since they have different browning rates. Place in oven and check after 10 minutes. Toss occasionally with a metal spatula. Fennel cooks quickly, in 10-15 minutes. Acorn squash will be done in 20-25 minutes. If you’re not sure, take one out, let it cool and give it a taste test. This can all be done while chicken is in the oven.

Place lentils, water, and salt in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and simmer for 20 minutes. Drain and cool.

Arrange arugula into four bowls. Top with ½ cup lentils, some roasted squash, and fennel. Drizzle with tahini-orange dressing.

Tahini Orange Dressing

2 tablespoons tahini

1 teaspoon honey

1 teaspoon rice vinegar

Juice of one orange (or a big juicy lemon)

1/3 cup olive oil

Combine everything but the olive oil in a food processor and blend until smooth. While blending, pour olive oil in slowly. (You can make the dressing with a bowl and a whisk, if you don’t have a food processor.)

Frittata with Chicken and Chard

3 tablespoons olive oilshelby-thompson_everlasting-chicken_edible-baja-arizona_02

8 eggs

¼ cup whole milk, or half and half

Salt and pepper, to taste

Small red onion, slivered

½ bunch chard, chopped

½-1 cup leftover chicken, chopped

½ cup chèvre goat cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Swirl olive oil all around a nonstick pan (it helps to heat slightly first). Cook onion in the olive oil over low heat for 7 or 8 minutes. Whisk eggs, milk, a generous pinch of salt, and some cracks of pepper in a bowl. Add chard to pan and a pinch of salt. Cook until just wilted, and add chicken. Pour the eggs in, coating the entire bottom of the pan. Cook for 3-4 minutes to set the bottom, tilting the pan and peeling the edges of the frittata away, allowing some uncooked egg to run underneath. Sprinkle goat cheese over the top and pop into the hot oven. This will puff up and set in 7-10 minutes. Check it vigilantly so it doesn’t get hard. You want this to be just set. Serve with greens dressed simply and toast or leftover grains.

Farrotto with Chard and Golden Raisins

1½ cups farroshelby-thompson_everlasting-chicken_edible-baja-arizona_01

4 cups homemade chicken broth

1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 small yellow onion, diced

1 tablespoon chopped thyme

2/3 cup golden raisins

½ cup pine nuts, toasted

½ bunch chard, chopped

Fresh Parmesan, to taste

Heat broth in a small saucepan. In a larger pot, melt butter and olive oil over medium heat, then add onions and a pinch of salt. Cook over low heat for 10 minutes or so. Add thyme and farro. Stir until it gives off a nutty fragrance. Begin adding broth in ½ cup ladles, stirring 3-4 minutes between each ladle, allowing the farro to absorb the broth. The pan should be almost dry each time you add another ladle. About 20 minutes into this process, add the raisins. Continue until you have used all the broth and farro is just tender (about 30-40 minutes). Add the chard at the very end, and stir until just wilted but still bright green. Taste for seasoning—it may need a bit of salt and fresh pepper. Remove from heat and garnish with pine nuts. Top with fresh Parmesan, if you like. ✜

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