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.
1/3 cup butter or margarine
1/3 cup chopped onion
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 3/4 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup milk
2 cups shredded cooked chicken
2 cups frozen mixed vegetables, thawed
Heat oven to 425°F. Prepare pie crusts as directed on box for Two-Crust Pie using 9-inch glass pie pan.
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.
Stir in chicken and mixed vegetables. Remove from heat. Spoon chicken mixture into crust-lined pan. Top with second crust; seal edge and flute. Cut slits in several places in top crust.
Bake 30 to 40 minutes or until crust is golden brown. During last 15 to 20 minutes of baking, cover crust edge with strips of foil to prevent excessive browning. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.
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.
salt, to taste
8 oz penne pasta
2 cups broccoli floret
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed
pepper, to taste
¼ cup butter
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon salt
⅛ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon black pepper
1 ½ cups grated parmesan cheese, plus extra for garnish
red pepper flake, to garnish
Bring a quart of water in a large pot to a boil over high heat, and salt to taste.
Cook pasta for 8 minutes, or until slightly underdone.
Add broccoli to pasta and simmer for 4 minutes with the lid on.
Strain the pasta and broccoli in a colander, and run cold water over to prevent the broccoli from over cooking.
Heat the olive oil in the pot over medium-high heat, and add the chicken. Season the chicken with season salt and pepper.
Once the chicken is cooked through, remove it from the pot and set aside.
Add the butter to the pot, and melt it. Once butter is fully melted, add in garlic and stir continuously for 10 seconds.
Add the heavy cream, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Stir often, and cook until sauce starts to bubble slightly.
Once the sauce is bubbling and begins to cook down, add in Parmesan cheese and stir until the sauce thickens.
Add in the cooked chicken, pasta, and broccoli, and stir until fully combined.
Top with Parmesan cheese or red chili flakes.
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.
1 1/2 lb tomatillos
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 cloves (or more) garlic (optional)
1/2 cup cilantro leaves
1 Tbsp fresh lime juice
2 Jalapeño peppers OR 2 serrano peppers, stemmed, seeded and chopped (you can use whole for more heat if you want)
Salt to taste
Remove papery husks from tomatillos and rinse well.
a Oven Roasting Method Cut the tomatillos in half and place cut side down on a foil-lined baking sheet. Add a few garlic cloves in their skin (if using) Place under a broiler for about 5-7 minutes to lightly blacken the skins of the tomatillos.
2b Pan Roasting Method Coat the bottom of a skillet with a little vegetable oil. Heat on high heat. Place the tomatillos in the pan and sear on one side, then flip over and brown on the other side. Remove from heat.
2c Boiling Method Place tomatillos in a saucepan, cover with water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove tomatillos with a slotted spoon.
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.
4 Season to taste with salt. Cool in refrigerator.