Yes, I'm on a chicken kick (sorry vegetarians!), but let me explain. Recently, one of my close friends sent out an SOS entitled help oh foodie one (I like it - it makes me sound like a food goddess) explaining that after some finance reassessment, she discovered she had very little money for food every month and needed to learn to cook cheap, and fast! What could I do to help? Well, I have to admit, she's not the only one with this problem. With inflation here and food prices going up and up, I've been doing a little panicking on shopping days myself. Nevertheless, I've decided to look at this as a creative food challenge, rather than a catastrophe and I'll be sharing my thoughts with you all (you'll notice the new label on the left Eat Well for Cheap).
True, one of the best ways to eat cheap is to eat vegetarian (more expensive of course if you want to eat organic, but better for you and the planet). However, for those of us who don't feel completely protein-ified no matter how many beans we consume, and who appreciate meat once in a while, the cheapest way I know to eat meat is to buy a whole chicken once a week and roast it. My butcher sells a chicken for 5.90 euros no matter the weight and, he usually winks and points out the heaviest one so you get the most for your money.
Sunday brunch is very important in France, often a time when families come together around good food, and roast chicken is one of the traditional Sunday dishes. Always one to try out local customs, I made my roast chicken last Sunday and D. and I have been eating it all week. Very good for the wallet:
Sunday lunch: roast chicken and veggies
Monday lunch: leftover roast chicken and veggies
Tuesday dinner: comfort coconut noodles with the rest of the chicken
Wednesday lunch: leftover comfort coconut noodles
Wednesday afternoon: stock making time with the chicken bones
Thursday lunch: potato leek soup with chicken stock
Friday lunch: leftover potato leek soup
As Joy of Cooking says:
Roasting a chicken does not require the skills of a restaurant chef. You will get perfectly good results if you proceed as your grandmother did. (Personally, I can't imagine my grandmother roasting chickens... but go on...) Simply arrange the chicken breast side up on a rimmed baking sheet or in a shallow roasting pan...and roast it until the thigh releases clear juices.
See, it's easy!
Here's a simple recipe to get you started.
Roast Chicken and Potatoes
6-8 potatoes, depending on size
2 carrots (optional)
3 1/2 Tbsp melted butter
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 branch rosemary (or 1 tsp dried)
a pinch of thyme
a pinch of dried basil
Preheat the oven to 400F. In a small bowl, mix together the oil, rosemary, thyme, basil, salt, pepper and melted butter. Using a basting brush or your fingers, coat the chicken with this mixture (you won't use all of it yet), and place it breast side up in a baking pan or shallow roasting pan. Peel and chop the potatoes and carrots into slices and place around the chicken in the baking pan. Wash and cut the tomatoes into quarters and add to pan. Spoon some more of the sauce over the vegetables.
Put the chicken in the oven and roast for a about 1 hour, until the thigh releases clear juices (as Joy of Cooking say) when poked with a knife. Don't forget to baste the chicken once or twice during the cooking process. You can mix the vegetables a bit too to make sure they cook all over. After about 1 hour, you might consider turning the chicken over for 10-15 minutes, especially if you don't have a convection oven, or if your oven is ridiculously small and weak like mine (yes, I have a sissy oven). That way you make sure the bottom is done as well.
Carve, and eat, and make into more meals!
For more ideas for your leftover chicken, try:
My Chicken soup
Leftover Chicken Pesto Salad from Kalyn's Kitchen
Lemon Chicken and Pea Risotto from Love Food Hate Waste
Leftover Chicken Pot Pie from cooks.com
or go to leftoverchicken.com - a whole website devoted to the question !