Saturday, December 5, 2009

Don't throw away those leftover whole chicken bone and I'll tell you why...

Don't know what to do with that leftover chicken bone? If you have a few hours at home, why not make some chicken stock? It is very simple to do, and makes a great base for a homemade chicken soup.

The following process is often referred to as "boiling down the bone." It can be done with not only chicken bones, but other meats like beef, turkey, and ham.

What you'll need is a large pot that is a bit larger than the bone you will be boiling, a slotted serving spoon, and a mesh colander/strainer.

First you must separate the bone from the meat. Put the meat into a bowl for later, and all parts that you do not plan on eating, such as bone, cartilage, fat, etc goes into the pot to be boiled. If desired, you may also add vegetables to the water as well, such as onions, carrots or celery for flavor. Fill pot with water, being sure that all chicken parts are covered with 2-3 inches of water.

Bring to a boil. Once boiling, turn heat down to medium and let simmer for approximately 2-3 hours. During the simmering process, make sure bone and other parts are completely covered with water. If the water level goes down so low that the chicken parts are above the water line, add more water and once again bring to a boil. Once boiling again, turn heat down to medium and continue simmering.
Once finished boiling, turn off heat. Let sit for about 20 minutes so it is cool enough to handle. Once cooled, using a large slotted spoon, remove large pieces from the liquid and dispose of. When the large pieces are removed, strain liquid in a fine mesh colander to strain out any small pieces of bone or other parts. Pour mixture into an appropriate sized pot, bowl, or saucepan and cover. Let chill in the refrigerator for at least 12 hours. After stock has chilled, you will notice that there is a "skin" layer on the top. This is the fat from the stock, since fat is less dense than the stock, it floats to the top and when cooled, it creates this skin. If you'd like to remove this fat layer (which I always do), scrape with a spoon to remove and dispose of.

Now you're done! The stock is ready to use for your recipes, as a base for a homemade chicken soup, or freeze for use later.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Oven Roasted Whole Chicken

Delicious Roasted Chicken is so simple to make...

This recipe takes a few hours to cook, but so delicious. You can get a whole roaster chicken on sale for as low as 89 cents a pound. Get yourself a nice roasting pan with a lid and a good quality turkey baster and you're ready to get roasting.

I am going to provide you with a simple rosemary lemon pepper recipe to season your chicken with. Although this is my favorite recipe to flavor chicken with, you may use any flavors or spices that you'd like.

I usually use a 6-8 pound chicken when making this for my family. This is enough for a family of four and then enough to make a recipe such as chicken pot pie or chicken soup with the leftovers. I've seen chickens as small as 3-4 pounds at the grocery store, but when shopping for a chicken use the same rule as when you purchase your Thanksgiving turkey; one pound of bird per person.

To prepare your chicken for cooking: If chicken was frozen, be sure that it is thoroughly thawed. If still a slight bit frozen, rinse in your (clean!) kitchen sink with warm water for a few minutes. Before you cook your chicken, it must be rinsed and the insides must be removed. When I say insides, I am referring to a small bag of parts called "giblets" and sometimes a neck. These two items can be found inside the rear (or sometimes front) cavity of the bird. Now this is where you have to get a bit dirty, and if touching raw meat bothers you, get yourself a pair of gloves. You must reach your hand into the bird and remove the giblets (and neck if included).

Now before I go on with the preparation of the chicken, let's talk about giblets and necks for a bit. Many people like to fry or bake the giblets and mix them in with their stuffing. I, personally, do not enjoy this part of the bird so I usually hand it off to my husband and he gives it to the dog to eat, outside of course! Dogs can eat this raw and they can actually eat the raw chicken/turkey necks as well. Eating raw turkey necks was actually recommended by our dog trainer because it cleans their teeth believe it or not. Interesting! But never ever give a cooked poultry bone to your pet, once cooked, they become brittle, and can break and cut your pet's mouth! Now, enough about giblets and necks, lets get back to roasting that chicken!

After cleaning out the insides and thoroughly rinsing out the bird, place it into your roasting pan with rack. Be sure you place the bird in the pan breast side up. (legs should be pointing up)
In a bowl, mix your seasonings. I often use the following recipe. Depending on your taste buds, you may decide to omit or add a thing or two:

Lemon Garlic Pepper Seasoning
- 1 tbsp. grapseed or olive oil
- 1/2 tsp. ground pepper
- the juice of one lemon
- 1 clove garlic, finely minced
- 1/2 tsp. salt

After mixing ingredients, hand rub or spoon mixture all over bird. Place bird in roasting pan, uncovered, into a preheated 350 degree oven. After it has been in the oven for 45 minutes, you must start keeping an eye on the color of the bird, checking and basting it once every 20 minutes. Once the skin of the chicken has turned golden brown, it is time to place the lid onto the roasting pan for the remainder of the cook time. By placing the lid on the pan, the chicken will continue to cook, but will not brown much in color because the lack of airflow inside of the roasting pan. You may leave the lid off as long as you'd like, a shorter time for people who like a softer lighter skin or for someone who likes crispy brown skin on their chicken, you may leave the lid off longer. Just FYI, I usually place the lid on the roasting pan approximately 45-55 minutes after placing it in the oven.

Usually the full cook time of the chicken is 20 minutes per pound. So if you had a 6 pound chicken, you would multiply 6 x 20 minutes, and get a cook time of 120 minutes. These times are only approximate, and during the whole cook time, you should be keeping an eye on the bird and basting it at least every 20 minutes. For those of you who are not familiar with basting. To baste the chicken, remove it from the oven (try to do this fairly quickly so you do not interrupt the roasting for too long) and tilt the pan so that the drippings collect in one side of the pan (to make them easier to pick up). Fill up your turkey baster (or a basting brush may also be used) and squeeze (or brush) the drippings over the whole surface of the bird. Chicken is complete when it has reached an internal temperature of 165 degrees. Some chickens come with a pop-up timer, but I always use a thermometer to be sure, because sometimes the pop-up timers can go up too early. Be sure to let the chicken sit for about 2o minutes out of the oven to cool before handling.

Interested in making gravy with the drippings? In a small saucepan, combine 1 cup of drippings with 2 tablespoons of corn starch while stirring with a whisk. (make sure your whisk is heat proof before using, if not, a fork may be used) Bring to a boil, and then simmer on medium hat for 2 minutes on medium-high heat, stirring constantly.

Always wash your hands and your preparations tools and surfaces with antibacterial hand and dish soap after preparing raw meat.