Roast chicken saves the day

October 30, 2012 

  • Two ways to roast chicken Our experts offered their favorite methods for roasting chicken: Hunter Lewis, food editor at Southern Living magazine, prefers to roast chickens that weigh between 2 1/2 and 4 1/2 pounds. First, pat the skin dry, then rub the bird inside and out with 1 1/2 teaspoons of kosher or sea salt per pound. “It takes a lot more than you think,” he said. (Lewis adds some paprika to the rub as well, a trick for enhancing the golden color.) He doesn’t bother trussing and, if he has them on hand, he throws a lemon half, an onion half and some sprigs of rosemary or thyme inside the cavity. Lewis puts the bird right on the rack in a 500-degree oven with a pan of vegetables on the rack below to catch the juices; this method improves air circulation around the bird. After 20 to 30 minutes, he lowers the heat to 350 and continues roasting until a thermometer in the thigh registers 165 degrees. Let rest 10 minutes. Lucinda Scala Quinn, a cookbook author and vice president at Martha Stewart Omnimedia, shared her recipe for flat roasted chicken. Use kitchen shears to cut along both sides of a 3- to 4-pound chicken’s backbone and then remove the backbone. Flatten bird. Pat dry with paper towels. Rub with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon each olive oil and butter in a 14-inch cast-iron skillet. Add chicken, skin side down. Brown skin, about 3 minutes. Turn the chicken over in the skillet. Place skillet in a 400-degree oven and cook for 40 to 45 minutes until a thermometer in the thigh registers 165 degrees. Let rest 10 minutes before carving.
  • More ways to use leftover chicken We offer a few more ideas for easy weekday meals using leftover roasted chicken. (The meat will keep in the refrigerator for 3 or 4 days and in the freezer for 2 to 6 months.) Composed salad: Top lettuces and herbs with shredded chicken. Toss with a lemon vinaigrette whisked with leftover chicken juices. Add croutons and roasted cherry tomatoes. Chicken and dumplings: Bring 3 cups shredded chicken, a 32-ounce container of chicken broth, a 10-ounce can of reduced-fat cream of chicken soup to a boil in a Dutch oven. Cover and reduce heat to low, simmer for 5 minutes. Increase heat to a low boil. Roll out a 10-ounce package of buttermilk biscuit dough to 1/8-inch thickness. Cut into 1/2-inch-wide strips. Drop strips, one at a time, into boiling broth. Add 2 peeled, diced carrots and 3 diced celery ribs. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer 15 to 20 minutes. Stir occasionally to prevent dumplings from sticking. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Chicken tacos: Sauté chopped breast meat and serve with hard shell tacos or soft tortillas, shredded lettuce, shredded cheese and a fresh made salsa. Chicken broth: Don’t forget to turn that chicken carcass into broth to be turned into other meals. Lucinda Scala Quinn covers the carcass with water in a large pot. She adds a carrot, a celery stalk and a garlic clove if she has them, and salt and pepper to taste. She brings the pot to a boil, then reduces to a simmer for an hour. Next, she strains the mixture, pours it into a clean pot and simmers until it cooks down by a third. She freezes the broth in cup containers to use in future meals. Source: “Southern Living: Fix It & Freeze It Heat It & Eat It (Oxmoor House, 2012), Hunter Lewis and Lucinda Scala Quinn.
  • Roasted Chicken Shepherd’s Pie Adapted from “Cooking Light: The Complete Quick Cook: A Practical Guide to Smart, Fast Home Cooking,” by Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough (Oxmoor House, 2011). 1 1/4 cups fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth 1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour 2 cups chopped skinless, boneless leftover roasted chicken 1 teaspoon dried thyme 1 (16-ounce) package frozen mixed vegetables Cooking spray 1 (24-ounce) package country-style refrigerated mashed potatoes 1 large egg, lightly beaten 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper PREHEAT oven to 375 degrees. COMBINE broth and flour in a medium saucepan, stirring with a whisk. Stir in chicken, thyme and vegetables; cook over medium-high heat 5 minutes or until mixture thickens. Pour chicken mixture into an 8-inch square glass or ceramic baking dish coated with cooking spray. MIX together potatoes and egg in a large bowl; spread over chicken mixture. Sprinkle with pepper. BAKE uncovered for 20 minutes until puffed and lightly browned. Yield: 6 servings
  • Chicken and Wild Rice Casserole To freeze this casserole, divide it between two 11-by-7-inch baking dishes. Label and freeze unbaked casserole up to 1 month. To heat, remove from freezer and let stand at room temperature 1 hour. Bake, covered, at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Uncover, bake 55 more minutes. Sprinkle with almonds and serve. From “Southern Living Fix It & Freeze It, Heat It & Eat It: A Quick-Cook Guide to Over 200 Make-Ahead Recipes,” (Oxmoor House, 2012) 2 (6.2-ounce) boxes fast-cooking long-grain and wild rice mix 1/4 cup butter 4 celery ribs, chopped 2 medium onions, chopped 2 (8-ounce) cans sliced water chestnuts, drained 5 cups chopped cooked chicken 3 cups (12-ounces) shredded Cheddar cheese 2 (10-3/4 ounce) cans of cream of mushroom soup 1 (16-ounce) container sour cream 1 cup milk 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon pepper 2 cups soft, fresh breadcrumbs 1 (2.25-ounce package) sliced almonds, toasted PREHEAT oven to 350 degrees. Prepare rice mixes according to package directions. MELT butter in a large skillet over medium heat; add celery and onion. Sauté 10 minutes or until tender. COMBINE water chestnuts, cooked rice, celery mixture, chicken, cheese, soup, sour cream, milk, salt and pepper in a very large bowl. SPOON mixture into a lightly-greased 15-by-10-inch baking dish or a 4-quart baking dish. Top casserole with breadcrumbs. BAKE, uncovered, for 35 minutes. Sprinkle with almonds. Yield: 6 to 8 servings.
  • Chicken Chili If you cannot find these dried chilies, use fresh jalapenos, one or two to your taste. Adapted from “The Epicurious Cookbook: More than 250 of Our Best Loved Four-Fork Recipes for Weeknights, Weekends and Special Occasions,” by Tanya Steel and the Editors of Epicurious (Conde Nast, 2012). 1 1/4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth 1 (14-ounce) can stewed tomatoes 4 dried New Mexican or guajillo chiles, stems and seeds discarded and chiles torn to pieces (see intro) 1 (3/4-inch-thick) slice medium white onion 2 garlic cloves, peeled A handful of fresh cilantro, about 1/2 cup 1/4 cup dry-roasted peanuts 1 teaspoon ground cumin 1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste 2 tablespoons olive oil 2 cups shredded roasted chicken 1 (15-ounce) can pink or pinto beans in liquid Chopped fresh cilantro and sour cream, for garnish, optional PUREE broth, tomatoes with their juice, chiles or fresh jalapenos, onion, garlic, cilantro, peanuts, cumin and salt in food processor or blender until smooth, about 2 minutes. If you use a blender, chop jalapenos, if using, onion and cilantro beforehand. HEAT oil in a wide 3- to 4-quart heavy saucepan over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then pour in the sauce and boil, uncovered, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes. STIR chicken and beans with their liquid into the chili, then reduce heat to moderately low and simmer covered, 10 minutes. Serve with cilantro and sour cream. Yield: 4 servings

Roasted chicken on a Sunday night can be a weeknight meal savior.

Now that the weather has cooled and heating up the kitchen isn’t unbearable, roasting a chicken or two, depending upon the size of your household, can make the start of the work week easier on the family cook.

That leftover meat can be turned into soups, salads, chilies, casseroles and even tacos. Better yet, these dishes are easy to assemble.

Leftover roasted chicken, which will keep for three or four days in the refrigerator, can easily be turned into two more meals.

“I love that concept of just make it to Wednesday,” said Hunter Lewis, Southern Living magazine’s food editor.

Lewis is one of two experts who offered advice on how to best roast a chicken along with their go-to recipes and tips for chicken leftovers.

The other is Lucinda Scala Quinn, executive food director of Martha Stewart Omnimedia and author of “Mad Hungry: Feeding Men & Boys.” Quinn, a mother of three boys, based that book and the sequel, “Mad Hungry Cravings,” due out next spring, on her own experience.

“I don’t let a chicken go to waste,” Quinn said. “I’ll extract out of one or two birds, one meal, another meal, a soup and a nice broth.”

Weigl: 919-829-4848

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