Last week, I was a vegetarianThis week, I bought whole fryer chicken, and stretched its galline goodness as far as I could. 

The three stages are simple: 
Roast, Leftovers, Stock

By using all available parts of the chicken, we honor its death, nourish our bodies, and spend our money wisely. 

Shannon Hayes' article, One Chicken, Three Meals, inspired me to buy a roaster chicken.  She explained how, at a relatively low cost-per-pound, pastured chicken can provide a great deal of high-quality nutrition... if you know how to use it.

Stage 1: the Roast

I've never roasted a chicken before in my life.  So I called Morgan, my personal chef consultant (among her many other titles!)  She essentially guaranteed my success with her patience and fabulous advice.

You will need:
~ 1 chicken, dead, pasture-raised or similar
~ good dark beer, local if you're lucky like me!
~ balsamic vinegar, organic
~ 2 Tbsp cold butter, cubed
~ 2 cloves garlic, minced
~ 2 tsp fresh rosemary, chopped
~ black pepper
~ Real Salt
~ roasting pan
~ aluminum foil -or- fitted lid for roasting pan

First, get a chicken.  This may be harder than it seems, especially if you care how it was raised and processed.  I recommend farmers markets, direct buying from poultry farmers, or reputable natural foods stores that report their sources' living conditions.  I got mine from a natural grocer with relatively high meat standards.
I was a little freaked at first at how naked and dead it is... but that passed quickly.  I figure if I'm ever going to raise chickens for myself, I'd better get used to this.

Preheat the oven to 350 F, prep your ingredients (no raw chicken juice all over!), check the chicken's chest cavity for giblets (there were none in mine), then pop open a beer. 

Okay, I admit, my beer was partly to help me handle a dead bird in my kitchen, but it was mostly for the dark beer and balsamic glaze
I used ~ 1/3 c. beer and 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar - pour it over top, then roll the chicken to coat any spots you missed.  Try to keep your dominant hand chicken-juice free, so you don't cross-contaminate your kitchen while you work.

Now for the goodies!  Use pre-prepped minced garlic, chopped fresh rosemary (mine was from my windowsill!), and cubed cold butter.   
Next, loosen the chicken's skin from its meat by sliding your fingers between the two.  It might be kinda tough at first, but with a little effort the connective tissue breaks fairly easily.

Slide the cubed butter under the chicken's skin, so there are weird cuboid lumps all over.  Looks freaky, but ensures delicious crispy skin!

Then sprinkle the chicken all over with garlic, rosemary, salt, and black pepper
I don't recommend taking photos during this process... chicken juice on one hand doesn't help with camera stability, or artistic genius.

Finally, cover the chicken with aluminum foil - try to leave a little gap between the chicken and the foil, since my chicken's skin stuck to the foil when it was too snugly wrapped.

Bake the chicken, covered, for 17 minutes per pound.  For me, this was an hour.

Then, remove the foil/cover, and bake uncovered for 15 minutes.  This gets it all nice and golden-crispy.

Remove from oven, cover it up again, and let sit for another 15 minutes. 

Uncover, and revel in your roast chicken's glory!
I know, I know... I roasted it upside down.  But hey - it was pretty damn good for my first time!  

My chicken carving skills, however, aren't so great.  I wish I'd watched this video on how to carve a roast chicken first!  The skin was delicious, though...

Oh hey - don't pour out the pan juices!  Save them in a stock pot for stage 3, the stock.

stage 2:  The leftovers

Once you've stuffed your face with crispy delicious chicken wings and legs, standing over your roasting pan, glad nobody's watching you... wait - that was just me.  Feel free to eat at a table.

Anyway... Once you've finished your roast chicken meal, collect all the leftover small bits of chicken.  If there are any bits of meat left on your or others' plates, retrieve them, then sit down and get intimate with the carcass. 

Use your fingers to pick the bones clean while the chicken is still at room temperature, and collect all the meat in a container.  Save those bones!
You can use your leftover chicken throughout the week to make chicken and rice, chicken soup, chicken quiche, chicken salad, chicken on nachos... this getting a little Forrest Gump, I know... but there are just so many options!  Fried chicken, chicken burritos, chicken marsala, chicken--  okay, I'll stop.

For my first act as Leftover Queen, I made a chicken rice and veggie wrap.  I used spinach and green garlic from the farm, and home-grown tomatoes I canned last November:

stage 3:  The stock

There are tons of ways to make stock, but all you really need are chicken bones and water.  Hopefully you've got more than that, though - use what you've got!

If you have onions, carrots, and celery, you can make a traditional mirepoix by softening these in some olive oil before adding your water and chicken parts. 

I didn't have mirepoix ingredients, so... I simmered chopped garlic in the pan juices.

When the garlic had softened, I added the chicken carcass and enough water to cover the bones (and giblets, if you have them), then tossed in dehydrated green onions from last summer, leftover greens from the green garlic, and tons of salt & pepper.
Use whatever leftover veggie parts you have:  broccoli stalks, chard or collard ribs, carrot tops, withered mushrooms... anything!  The nutrients will all go into the stock, and you'll get a lot of nourishment out of these 'waste' foods. 

Let the stock simmer for several hours to a day or two... depending on your mood and situation.  A good rule of thumb is to taste the tiny chicken bits left on the bone, and when they don't taste like chicken anymore, your stock is done. 
Strain the solids out of your stock by pouring it through a strainer and into another pot. Press down on the stock solids with a spoon to get out the remaining juice.  If you're patient, you can also let it sit and drip.

Now you have chicken stock!  I poured mine into mason jars for fridge storage, and plan to skim off the fat once it has had a chance to settle and congeal.  
Chicken stock is super useful for soups, of course, but Shannon Hayes also suggested drinking the stock straight, as a quick and nutrient-rich breakfast or lunch.  Hmm... I'll give it a try!

One chicken, many meals.  How do you make the most of your chicken? 

P.S. I've been really tempted to make a 'why did the chicken cross the road' joke this whole time, but I've still never heard any good ones.  If you can fix that for me, please leave a comment!

You might like:
~ Vegetarian, Flexitarian, Locavore... Intuitive Eating
~ Loco for Local: Braised Greens Breakfast
~ Homemade Bread at High Altitude
~ Mental Health: Taking Care of the Basics

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5/7/2012 06:23:29 am

Great post! I made a great beef stock yesterday with leftover pastured bones, meat, green onion bulbs, and thyme that we're going bad. Love to see other people that enjoy garlic greens too!

I've been enjoying reading your blog since I found it a few weeks ago. Seems we have quite a few similar values and experiences :)

Anna @ Patchwork Radicals
5/7/2012 10:42:13 am

Hey Alexandra ~ Thanks for the note! I'm glad you've been enjoying the reading - glad to have you here!

5/9/2012 01:24:32 am

Hey just found your website (laid up with broken big toe) and have been going through your posts! I love this article I just did this on Monday, my husband is a vegan (due to allergies, poor thing) so I'm the only meat eater.. we buy organic and I make 1 bird a week last just like this.. just wanted to add one tip after you do all of the above don't forget your dogs! I tend to make a (dog supper) once a week with all the fridge gumbo left overs this includes those gross fat dripping that end up left over after the whole process.. happy dogs!

Anna @ Patchwork Radicals
5/9/2012 08:27:49 am

Yes! Happy dogs! I'm out of practice, but this is the perfect start to a simmering dog pot. You can throw in all the random veggie ends (except onions) that didn't make it into your stock. :)
Thanks Sarah!

5/10/2012 09:19:09 pm

Ha, I laughed when you said you roasted it upside down as a mistake . . . but did you know that that actually makes it juicier? If you roast upside down then flip half way through it makes for a fantastic roasted chicken! Apparently it is one of the secrets of great peruvian chicken (per my good friend). I never made chicken with beer before, but I've heard it great. Will have to try. :)

Anna @ Patchwork Radicals
5/11/2012 06:49:41 am

Wow, thanks for the great tip, Jen! I'll definitely give that a shot next time.

5/13/2012 09:16:50 pm

Great walk through on how to do all of this! Is the stock simmering on the stovetop or in a crock pot for one to two days?

Anna @ Patchwork Radicals
5/16/2012 11:37:19 am

Hi Becky ~ You can leave the stock simmering as long as you like, the flavors will only deepen. I only simmered mine for 3-4 hours, and it turned out well.

5/17/2012 07:01:36 pm

Oh Anna, my stomach is rumbling. this chicken looks SO good! Thanks for coming to Natural Mother's “Seasonal Celebration Sunday.” I would love to see you again next week!! Rebecca x

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9/4/2012 05:17:33 pm

I poured mine into mason jars for fridge storage, and plan to skim off the fat once it has had a chance to settle and congeal.

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