Chicken is one of my favourite foods. If I’m feeling down, I’m tired, hungover, depressed, homesick or just really, really hungry, I crave chicken – I always have. It’s such a versatile meat and a good quality source of protein, including the amino acid, tryptophan (needed to produce serotonin and melatonin – anti-depressive and anti-insomnia hormones). I feel like I eat it most days of the week.
As you can probably imagine, no matter how tight money gets, it’s important to me that I can afford to eat as nutritiously as I can. Even when money gets incredibly low, I plan out my spending and at the very least, I make sure I have enough protein in my diet to get me through the last few days until pay day, using staples in my pantry and freezer to bulk it out. The easiest way I find to do this, is to buy myself a whole chicken and eat like a QUEEN!
Here is how I do it:
1. I roast the chicken whole
My oven is currently broken, so I’ve been roasting my chicken in my slow cooker, which makes the meat tender and easy to remove from the bones. I usually fill the cavity with garlic and lemon, and season the skin with salt and rosemary.
I have a yummy roast chicken dinner that night, usually with a salad and some golden roast potatoes.
2. The rest of the chicken, I shred
With this I can make sandwiches, add the chicken to salads, omelettes, curries, soups, risottos, stir frys or as a filling for chicken lasagne, tacos or chicken pie. Depending on what I choose to make, I can freeze the chicken, or keep it in the fridge. Either way, I always get at least another 7 serves out of one whole chicken.
But wait, there’s more!
3. I use the leftovers to make a killer chicken broth
With the juices from roasting the chicken, I place the chicken carcass into the slow cooker with a couple of tablespoons of apple cider vinegar, some herbs, salt, peppercorns and vegetable scraps and a whole bunch of water and let it simmer, on low for at least 24 hours. When it’s done, I strain it and am left with at least 2.5L of chicken broth/stock that is full of flavour. With this I usually get at least another 3 meals – usually soup, a casserole or a risotto – or in winter, I leave a small container of it in the fridge to heat and drink a mug of to ward off any illness.
Because it is slow cooked for so long with the apple cider vinegar, the broth is rich in minerals and collagen that are great for skin, gut, bone and immune health, and ensure you truly get out all of the nutrients from that one chicken. The broth is easily freezable, and a can be used just as you would use stock (not to mention, much more nutritious, and free of additives such as MSG (aka. yeast extract).
If you want to put in a bucket load of effort and make yourself the BEST DAMN CHICKEN SOUP YOU WILL EVER TASTE, here is the recipe for my Famous Chicken Soup – it’s totally worth it, and you can use both the chicken that you’ve roasted AND the broth you have brewed to make it.
Other quick chicken ideas:
- Saute onion, broccoli, carrot and capsicum, with red curry paste. Top with coconut cream, chicken and lemon or lime juice for a quick red curry.
- Add to the above some peanut butter, turmeric, chicken broth and rice noodles for a cheat’s laksa
- Chop spinach, capsicum and tomato, grate some carrot and add chicken, avocado and Tabasco sauce for a quick Mexican fix
- Add leftover roasted potato and chicken to sauteed onions, green beans, carrots and broccoli to make a quick curry with turmeric, chilli, cinnamon, cumin seeds, and fennel seeds. (you could also add coconut cream if you like)
I know I’m not the only one who loves shredded chicken in their life – share your shredded chicken and chicken broth tips and recipes with everyone below!
Don’t forget to register for the Faraway Friendship Project before midnight, Feb 15