Roast Chicken

A little while ago I bought a chicken and decided to cut it up into the individual parts so that I could cook them separately when I wanted to, otherwise they were stored in the freezer. However since my knife proved it wasn’t up to the job, I thought this time I would roast the chicken whole and them portion it off afterwards. Doing this saves a lot of money if you buy a lot of pre-packed chicken meals and means you always have something in the freezer for back up! I like to buy the free-range chicken and if you can get it discounted, even better (I bought mine £1.50 off per kilo) – so you end up paying just over £5 for a whole chicken basically. Anyhoo, this is what I did to marinate the chicken:

1. Season with salt and pepper and some dried herbs. Pat into chicken and leave in the fridge for as long as you have (overnight is ideal).

2. I popped a few cloves of fresh garlic inside the chicken too just to give it some extra flavour. Drizzle some oil over the chicken and place on an ovenproof dish. You could also add some onions and other vegetables in the dish if you wanted and other seasonings. I cooked it for about an hour at 200-220 degrees Celsius. To check when your chicken is done, insert a sharp knife into the body and see whether the juices run clear (yep done) or red (it needs a little more cooking).

Roast Chicken

3. After cooking you can then start shredding it and taking of the meat – I ended up getting about 8 individual portions from it (with the help of recycled pasta bags for storage in the freezer)!

Shredded Chicken Chicken portions

4. Make sure you save the residue from the oven dish as you can just run a little water onto it and scrape of the remainder into a large pot for stock (keep the bones and any leftover bits of meat too as they really enhance the flavour).

Chicken stock

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Chicken

So first off, apologies for not quite sticking to my ‘post a week’ aim, I seem to be slacking as I generally tend to leave about 8-9 days between posts on my blogs – must try harder!

I have had quite a busy few weeks but food-related topics have been pretty non-eventful. But it’s Christmas soon which means I will be going back home where there is sugar, cake tins and baking parchment galore! (just thought I’d give you a heads up – although I’ll probably be too preoccupied with the eating rather than blogging). This week I cut up a chicken, not like with no idea! – I should have said I prepared a chicken. I was  nearing the end of my freezer stock and as meat is relatively expensive, I took up the suggestion to buy a whole chicken instead and then divide it into sections myself. Now obviously you could just roast the chicken whole if you have time and then divide it, but I wanted the satisfaction of putting all the different cuts in their own freezer bags because I’m weird like that.

First off, you NEED a super DOOPER sharp knife. Mine was not sharp enough sadly, I found out after properly trying to thump my hand into the top of the blade to get it to cut through a bone. I used a very useful video which can be found here from the lovely chaps at sorted food to guide me through the mysterious world of meat preparation. So first I removed all the packaging and string etc. easy peasy! Then I attempted to find the wishbone, first off I must admit I looked for it at the wrong end and then I thought well this isn’t going well so I gave it a miss! If anyone has a simple way of describing it’s position, please do feel free to enlighten me in the comments below. Then I proceeded to cut off the chicken wings (where a super DOOPER (thought I’d have fun saying that again) sharp knife is a necessity!) which took about 20x longer than it should have. But eventually I got the legs and breast + fillets too. Now they all sit happily ever after in my freezer, that is until they are eaten.

Chicken carcass: Don’t through this away! You can make a flavoursome stock with this especially (so I’ve read) if you roast it first. Now I thought the sight of this would scare my flatmates a bit if they found that in the oven next to their pizza and chips – so it’s currently residing in the freezer until they’ve gone back home for Christmas (yes my course finishes a week later than everyone else meaning I will have a empty flat all my myself until 4 days before Christmas!) – then I’ll whip it out and conjure up some lovely stock using my recipe here.

So I hope you enjoyed my chicken encounters and I hope you are all having a lovely December! I would love to hear of any ‘must-try’ Christmas recipes you have in the comments below or just any Christmassy comments in general!

One pot red cabbage meal

So this ‘recipe’ was one of the meals I mentioned in my previous post. The great thing about it is that you can prepare it all in one pan. It is quite similar to this post but I’ve just made it simpler and easier to wash up afterwards! (By the way the random Ryvita was just to use up some Philadelphia.) I tried cooking the ‘grains’ like the couscous and bulgur wheat after I saw a Nigel Slater ‘Dish of the Day’ episode where he just added a similar sort of ‘grain’ in with some soup. I thought it was quite clever to add it in to an existing pan that was already cooking away rather than just using boring old water as it gives it much better flavour!

-Red cabbage

-Carrots

-Bulgur wheat

-Wholewheat couscous (I used the giant type)

-Chicken stock

-Oil for the pan

-Salt and pepper for seasoning

So first I cut up the red cabbage into smallish chunks and peeled the layers apart slightly. I think the colours are so pretty and it gives a sort of marbled effect when raw.

Next I roughly chopped the carrots and boiled in the pan for about 10-15 minutes until a little soft on the outside but still retaining the crunch. They will be cooked further later so you don’t want them too soft at this point. Drain and leave to one side. Heat the same pan (it was a large relatively shallow one) up and drizzle in a few tablespoons of oil. Add in your chopped red cabbage and toss in the oil. Cover with a lid for a few minutes until it wilts just slightly. Now mix in the pre-cooked carrots too.

Take care not to burn the cabbage. After about 5-8 minutes, pour in your liquid chicken stock (any will do – I made mine here). Turn down the heat and let it simmer gently with the lid on for about 15 minutes so that the liquid doesn’t escape.

When your cabbage is almost cooked to how you like it and there is still a good amount of liquid left in the pan, stir in some bulgur wheat and couscous. At this point, season well with salt and pepper and any other flavourings or herbs you have.

Stir the grains in until they are thoroughly mixed in with the liquid and cover with a lid. Taste to check when  they are cooked and serve immediately.

How to make chicken stock

Following on from my chicken dinner post here, I decided to use the few leg bones to make some homemade chicken stock for the first time. After consulting several online recipes I decided to have a go. Bones with a little meat left on them are best as give extra flavour.

Chicken Stock

-Old chicken bones or carcasses

-Carrots

-Onions

-Celery or other vegetables

First I placed my old bones into a pot. If you have larger bones, break in half to release more flavour.

Next prepare the base vegetables. I only had shallots and carrots so used these. Celery is a common addition and any other old vegetables you have to eat would be ideal. Chop into chunky pieces.

Add the vegetables to the bones and pour hot water into the pot. Season with salt and plenty of pepper.

Bring the stock up to the boil on a high heat and upon reaching, turn down so that it continues to simmer. I left the lid covering the pot for a good 4-5 hours.

The stock could be made into a soup if you only added a low volume of water and thickened before draining the bones. I wanted it as a stock so mashed the vegetables up a little before draining the bones and larger pieces.

You should now be left with a lovely flavoursome stock.

I poured mine into a plastic container for the freezer. Otherwise if you are planning to use soon, it will keep in the fridge.

So that’s how I made my chicken stock. I haven’t been brave enough yet to buy a whole chicken for roasting otherwise I would have a lot more bones, but this worked well for a few helpings of vegetables.