How many ways can you cook chicken?
For starters, let's use the whole bird. Properly cooked - a bone-in bird will provide several wonderful options past the current meal.
Roast a bird by laying it breast-side up on a rack over a foil-lined pan. Tying the legs together will help it cook evenly, but it will still cook without being trussed. Unstuffed, the average 4 pound bird will roast in a little over an hour in a 350-degree oven. Rub seasoning over the bird before roasting, inside and out. The most basic is salt and pepper. Go anywhere you like from there. Herbal blends work magnificently. Your most important tool is a thermometer. When the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees. It is done and you can remove it from the oven. If you remove it before it reaches 165 degrees - you will need to cook it further using one of the recipes below.
Regardless of how you season the bird, the trick is to let it rest, then carve away the meat, leaving the inner carcass to use for stock. Adding in all your cooking juices, any leftover vegetables, and the cut ends from fresh vegetables into a large pot of water (salted) along with every discarded or picked-clean bone, fatty bits, and extra skin from the recently cooked bird.
Slow-boil the water in a covered pot for at least 2 hours, the longer the better. When you are happy with the flavor, strain the stock through a filter that suits you into containers with tight-fitting lids. I use a standard kitchen mesh strainer; some friends line theirs with cheesecloth. Containers will stay good for at least a week in the refrigerator, or the stock can be frozen for use later. Plan ahead. Don't make more stock than you can store. Try not to work with boiling-hot stock - let it cool.
Now what to do with the meat? Aside from just eating it as it was carved. Commercially sold, poultry is about 60% - 70% meat and 30% - 40% bone. A full 4 pound bird should render 2.5+ pounds of cooked chicken which is roughly equivalent to 5 cups; and a large pot of chicken stock.
We'll use the cooked chicken in 3 meals. Each one optimally uses about 1 pound or 2 cups of cooked chicken apiece, but you can adjust as needed.
Chicken pot pie
The easiest. Especially if you use pre-made pie crust.
In 2-quart saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add onion; cook 2 minutes, stirring frequently, until tender. Stir in flour, salt and pepper until well blended. Gradually stir in broth and milk, cooking and stirring until bubbly and thickened.
Chicken Alfredo with Broccoli
This recipe calls for raw chicken breasts to be cooked in a pan, then use the same pan for making the Alfredo sauce. It is entirely possible to use 2 cups pre-cooked chicken in this recipe, skipping the obvious part about cooking the chicken.
Add the heavy cream, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Stir often, and cook until sauce starts to bubble slightly.
This recipe is ridiculously simple. Add 1/4 cup salsa verde to 1 cup of chopped cooked chicken. Heat in a pan. Use as filling for empanadas, tacos, burritos, or enchiladas. To really make the dish stand out, saute some red onion in the pan with a bit of garlic before you heat the chicken, adding in the salsa verde after it is heated through. Remove from direct heat when cooked through; cool and fill masa-pouch-of-choice for further cooking, or use immediately with warm tortillas and your favorite accompaniment.
Make your own salsa verde? Easy and fun - if you can find tomatillos. Here is an easy recipe for use with a blender.
3 Pulse in blender: Place the cooked tomatillos, lime juice, onions, garlic (if using), cilantro, chili peppers in a blender or food processor and pulse until all ingredients are finely chopped and mixed.