One of the best things about not working is having the time and energy to spend time in the kitchen. You can make use of everything.
Take a roasted chicken, for example. A $7 whole (chemical-free) chicken yields a variety of meals, including chicken with roasted potatoes, chicken with rice, and chicken sandwich spread. I also made soup stock from the carcass, something I always try to do.
I also - for the first time ever - did a pretty good job of trussing my chicken. Do this to keep the chicken moist and tender. It really works. I have occasionally forgotten this step, to my great regret, and ruined my share of whole chickens.
I did a masterful job this time, if I do say so myself, and the chicken was so tender and moist, it fell apart in my hands. I had to use a photo from five years ago, which I am disclosing in the interest of transparency.
I've spent a considerable amount of time researching various methods of chicken roasting, and I've come up with my own approach, which - save for the falling apart stuff - is close to perfection.
Preheat oven to 450.
- 1 medium whole chicken
- 1/3 stick of butter
- sea salt flakes
- 1 small lemon
- freshly ground pepper
- herbes de Provence
- 3-4 garlic cloves
- roughly 1/3 to 1/2 bottle leftover white wine (I used Riesling)
Remove the liver or whatever is packed inside the chicken. I actually forgot to do this once.
Wash the chicken; pat dry. Quarter the lemon and cut the garlic cloves in half. Stuff these inside the chicken, along with a small handful of sea salt and herbes de Provence.
Truss the chicken; rub with butter after trussing (or it will slide around and trussing could become a contest between you and the chicken). Next rub the entire chicken with more sea salt, ground pepper and even more herbes de Provence.
Place in roasting pan. Add wine and about a cup of water. Roast for 90 minutes. I carefully turned the chicken over for the last half hour of roasting, so it would brown evenly.
When the chicken is completely roasted, remove it form the oven and let it rest about 30 minutes, covered, before removing it from the pan. Save any liquid in the pan; you can add this to your stock pot. I recommend removing the lemons if they have fallen out of the chicken. They impart a fresh flavor to the chickens while roasting, but will spoil your stock. Trust me on this one.
This chicken was packed with meat, yielding a total of eight servings. I made chicken sandwich spread, chicken vegetable soup, and used the pan drippings for pumpkin soup. I froze a small serving of chicken, so I can make a casserole for one some night when my husband is eating something I don't like.
Cost: I paid almost $7 for the chicken, but had everything else on hand. It was easily under $1 per serving.
Wine pairing: I like an oaky chardonnay. But there are many other options.
Roasting a chicken is one of the best ways to eat frugally. I have served it for Thanksgiving during lean times, and enjoyed it just as much as turkey or ham.