I’m a penny pincher. Or, rather, I prefer to spend my money doing fun stuff, not on boring things like food. At the same time, however, we stick mostly to a paleo diet — and that means lots and lots of meat.
You know what costs a lot money? Meat.
Enter the three meal (at least), $8 whole chicken. For about $1.84 a lbs at our military commissary I can score a whole, raw organic chicken. And when I do with it what I describe below, I can get at least three meals out of it — if not more.
What to do with a paleo whole chicken.
Day 1: Roasted chicken
The first step is cooking the whole chicken. You could spend more and buy an already cooked rotisserie chicken for this part, but unless you’re buying it at Whole Foods it’s going to be pumped full of flavor enhancers and sugar. Delicious/nasty. I want a chicken without that junk.
Cooking a whole chicken is super easy. You could make it more or less complicated by sticking root veggies under it or lemon inside it. You could slather it with butter. You could tie its feet together. (I don’t know why — but Martha Stewart suggested it.)
Here’s what I do:
– Heat your oven to 350.
– Rinse the chicken inside and out in your sink.
– Sprinkle salt, pepper and Mrs. Dash chicken grilling blend inside the chicken as well as all over the outside (both the bottom and the top). If I happen to have fresh herbs on hand like basil or oregano, for example, I stick those inside it.
– Plop the chicken breast side down in a roasting pan.
– Stick it in the oven. Leave it there for somewhere around 2 hours.
– Check it to make sure it’s reached at least 165 degrees at several spots (it will have). You want the skin to get nice and crispy on top. Why? Because crispy skin is so yummy, of course!
There’s a million ways to make this more complicated. Don’t give in to the temptation!
After you eat, do this:
– Let the chicken cool for a little because hot chicken is too hot to touch. That’s a fact.
– Dive in. Pull all the remaining meat off the bones, stick it in one container and put it in the fridge (if you are going to use it this week — if not, put it in the freezer). Put all the bones in a stock pot.
– Make bone broth. You can do this now and cook it overnight like I do, or stick the pot in the fridge and wait for the morning.
Making bone broth
This could not be easier (although it doesn’t look very pretty – I tried to make it look pretty but, frankly, there’s nothing pretty about bones in water. Nothing).
– Fill the stock pot with cold water so it covers the bones.
– Pour in about 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar. This helps pull the nutrients from the bones.
– Put the pot on the stove on low, stick a lid on it and bring it simmer lowly.
– Leave it there doing its thing for a long time — like eight hours or overnight.
– Let it cool enough to handle it.
– Pour it through a small-holed sieve or strainer into a container. You’re probably going to need more than one container. You can save it all, freeze some, put some in your fridge — whatever. I generally freeze about five cups, put five cups in the fridge and then save whatever additional I have above that for using with poached eggs.
Day 2: Veggie soup
Pick your favorite veggie soup and use the bone broth as a base. I really like butternut squash this time of year. Here is how I make it:
Butternut Squash Soup
– One tart apple, cored, sliced and quartered. No, I don’t peel it.
– One butternut squash, peeled, cubed and roasted at 350 degrees until it’s tender.
– Four or five cups of broth
– 1 teaspoon of thyme
– Salt and pepper to taste
Simmer it for at least 30 minutes, blend it together — I use a stick blender but you could stick it in batches in a regular blender.
Day 3: Sweet potato pot pie
This recipe is amazing and delicious. And did I mention it’s amazing? Make it using the bone broth and leftover chicken … and be prepared for the topping to not cook all the way through …I’ve yet to master that trick.
P.S. You’re all “hello peas are not paleo!” Yup, you’re right. Cheater, cheater pumpkin eater over here (no really, have you seen some of the paleo pumpkin recipes? OMG).
Day 4 and beyond
You should have leftovers from the pot pie — yummy! And you probably have remaining bone broth. Also yummy!
Here are just a few things I do with leftover bone broth:
– Drink it. No, really. It’s a great, simple food. It would be perfect if you’re recovering from a stomach bug. You could keep it in the freezer and reheat it when you are ready.
– Poach eggs in it. It adds a nice little flavor.
– Make more soup.
And that, friends and countrymen, is how you stretch a whole chicken — and streeeeeeeeetch it. Enjoy!