Stretch Your Chickens: A Four-Act Play

Jan 7, 2012

You've heard of Rubber Chicken, haven't you? Where you roast a chicken and then use it to make one or two other meals later in the week? Well, it's a great idea, but one chicken doesn't go far in this household of seven. I roast two chickens at a time. Even if you're family isn't as big as ours, roasting two at a time is a good way to get a leg up on your meal preparation. Just pick the extra meat off the bones, chop, and freeze for future soups and casseroles. You can also freeze the bones to make bone broth.

I highly recommend buying organic or free-range chicken if it's available to you. Yes, it costs a bit more, but if you stretch your chicken, you'll definitely be getting your money's worth and be investing in your family's health. By making your own chicken stock instead of buying cans/cartons from the store, you'll save as much as or more than you paid for the chicken!

Like I said, I'm no Martha, but this bird was tasty! 
Chicken, Act 1: Roast Chicken
This is how I do it, but I'm definitely no Martha.
  • Rinse both chickens, making sure to remove giblets from cavity, and place each one in 9x13 casserole dish. You can pat them dry with paper towels, if you want, but I don't think it's necessary.
  • Drizzle each chicken with extra virgin olive oil; sprinkle with coarse/kosher sea salt, fresh ground pepper, garlic powder, and Italian seasoning. I usually add a few peeled garlic cloves to the cavity also.
  • Bake at 400° for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours (depending on the size of your birds), until the skin is golden and a meat thermometer inserted into the meaty part of the thigh reads 180°. Honestly, I don't use a meat thermometer. I just cook it until the  skin is really golden and crispy and then cut into the breast to make sure it's cooked all the way through. But, I'm not a food expert, so be safe and take its temperature.
  • Serve part or all of one chicken to your family for dinner. Pick the remaining meat from the bones of both chickens, reserving the bones/carcass. Chop the meat into bite-size pieces and refrigerate or freeze in recipe-size portions. Refrigerate or freeze the bones to make stock for soup. Reserve drippings for gravy.
I'm no photographer, either!
Chicken, Act 2: Chicken Gravy
You may choose to make and serve this immediately with mashed potatoes or save for lunch the next day. Makes about 2 cups.
  • Spoon pan drippings into a small saucepan. Add enough water or chicken broth to make about 1 1/2 cups. Heat on medium.
  • In a cup, whisk 1/4 cup water and 1/4 cup flour together until smooth. Add to saucepan, whisking until smooth. Heat until thick and bubbly. Season, to taste, if necessary. But it probably won't be if you were as liberal with the seasonings as I am. :)

Chicken, Act 3: Chicken Stock or Bone Broth
If you've ever wondered what the difference is between broth and stock, read THIS to find out. Nourished Kitchen also has instructions for making bone broth in a slow cooker. I make chicken bone broth very much like I make whole chicken broth, only I use the chicken carcass. 
  • Add the chicken bones, a few carrots and celery stalks, cut in chunks, an onion, cut in wedges, a few smashed garlic cloves, some peppercorns, a teaspoon or so of sea salt, a couple of bay leaves to a stock pot, and a tablespoon of white vinegar; cover with filtered water. Some people use vegetable trimmings that they've saved, but I don't usually have those available.
  • Bring it to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for several hours. 
  • Using a slotted spoon, remove the bones and veggies, then strain stock through sieve into quart or half-gallon canning jars, if you won't be using it right away.
Chicken, Act 4: More Meals
Now, your chicken can be a star in the production of your choosing. Here are a few ways that I use the leftover chicken and/or stock:
  • Chicken noodle or rice soup
  • Chicken tortilla soup
  • Chicken pot pie
  • Chicken burritos or enchiladas
  • White chicken chili
  • Chicken salad
  • Chicken pesto pizza (a favorite from a local pizza place; pesto instead of red sauce, broccoli florets, sun-dried tomatoes, black olives, chicken, cheese)
Do you stretch your chickens?

Linked to Homemaking Link-Up.


  1. I always save my meat juices to use as broth in future soups. I freeze mine in containers and pop them into the pan with whatever other liquid I'm using in the soup. It's so time-consuming, much healthier than using store-bought, and it's also much cheaper. These are some great pointers that you've shared!!!

  2. Great idea, Amber! I suppose you could freeze it in ice cube trays to make it easier to portion out also. Thanks!


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