In case you were unaware, I recently decided to give up my vegan kick and start eating meat again. The promise I made to myself was that if I ever craved meat, I would go for it.
Inspired by the cooking habits of old, my new goal has been to master roasting a chicken, and making a mouth-watering broth. In addition to feeling like royalty while I carve into the chicken at the dinner table, I also favor buying and cooking whole chickens for several other reasons. First of all, it's WAY cheaper to get an organic chicken than organic chicken breasts ($3.99 /lb vs. $8.99/lb). Second, you can use the carcass and bones to make a nutritious broth. Third, I feel fully acquainted with the fact that I am holding a dead animal as I hold it by the legs and wash it in the sink. And last but not least, after I did it for the first time, I realized how ridiculous easy it is to roast a chicken.
Herb-Encrusted Roasted Chicken
350°F for 1h30m
1 whole chicken of high quality (A whole chicken is usually about 3-4 pounds)
4 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp sage
1/2 tsp ginger
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp rosemary
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
Choose quality meat. Pasture-raised/ free range/ organic are all good choices. Tyson and Foster Farms both use horrendous practices, drugs and processing, and should be avoided like the plague. These companies are a constant feature on the news for food poisoning outbreaks, too.
Defrost the chicken if needed (a frozen chicken will take about 2 days to defrost in the refrigerator).
Turn the oven to 350°F. Wash the chicken in the sink using a big bowl and cold water. Get the water inside the chicken, too. You may need to pull out a small packet that many butchers put the giblets in.
Drip dry the chicken over the sink, holding it by its legs. Put into a large, rectangular pyrex pan, legs pointing upward.
Mix the oil and spices in a small bowl. With a culinary brush (or your fingers), brush the chicken all over with an even coat of the spice and oil mixture. If you wish, potatoes can be roasted in the dish around the chicken. If you put potatoes in, chop them into large pieces, and brush them with herb-oil, too. You may also wish to stuff the inside with half an onion, apple slices or something of your invention.
Put the pan in the 350°F oven for 1 hr 30 mins. Take it out and let it rest for 10 minutes before cutting into it. Your oven may vary, so check the temperature at 1h30m the first time you roast in it. It should be at or above 165°F (check temp immediately upon taking chicken out, as temp falls quickly).
After dinner, there will inevitably be more meat on the carcass. Using gloved or cleaned hands, pick the remaining meat from the carcass. Don't be intimidated. Turn on your curiosity. The meat won't separate well from the bone after refrigerated, and it doesn't keep well in the fridge on the carcass, so don't procrastinate on this step. Use the picked carcass for broth directly after you are finished picking it.
SuperHerb's Crock Pot Chicken Broth
Making a broth feels so basic and so ancient. Traditionally, when made in a commoner's house, broth was made to get the most out of limited ingredients, using vegetable scraps and bones. Stocks are a great opportunity to harness valuable minerals from leftover animals parts, which most people would otherwise throw away. I add salt and vinegar in order to encourage the minerals out of the bones, which I don't find compromises the flavor. I also like to crack the bones where possible, as the marrow inside holds lots of good things, too. I also find this is a great place to sneak in herbs (See extensive list below). In line with how I like to take my herbs, I like to make my broth strong and full of herbs. Explore what your preferences are.
Making chicken broth is not an exact science, and mine is slightly different each time, depending on what I have in the kitchen. The chicken, salt and vinegar should stay the same each time, but all other ingredients are flexible.
One picked clean chicken carcass, any loose bones broken in half to reveal marrow to broth
1 tsp sea salt
1-2 Tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar (Red wine or white wine vinegar also fine here)
leafy celery tops (the part you cut off usually)
1 carrot, roughly chopped with peel on
1 whole onion, washed and chopped with skin on
1-2 sprigs fresh rosemary (dry is fine if not available to you)
2 sprigs fresh sage (dry is fine if not available to you)
handful of fresh thyme (dry is fine if not available to you)
handful of fresh parsley or cilantro (I often use the stems that are leftover from the bunch)
Enough COLD water to fill the pot
Other possible ingredients:
a few slices of dried reishi mushrooms (this is a popular immune support agent)
1-2" of sliced fresh ginger root (or galangal)
handful of dried medicinal or culinary mushrooms (porcini, shiitake, maitake etc)
1-2 sticks lemon grass
a few bay leaves
several cloves of garlic, crushed with skin on
1 Tbsp fennel seed
1 tsp black peppercorns (great for cold and flu season, and for those with stiff/ sore joints)
a few washed and dried egg shells (for calcium)
nettle stems (for minerals)
1 cup of sliced fresh burdock root
Put all ingredients in a large crock pot, and fill it to the brim with COLD water. Put on low and let sit overnight (8-12 hours). Strain through a mesh metal strainer in the morning, and store in a large glass jar (or 1/2 gallon carboy) in the fridge. It can be frozen for use later. You can use this broth in soups, and use it to cook grains in. I like to make rice pilaf and Minestrone soup the most. I have also cooked beans in it.
Idea: You could make an asian style broth by adding onions, garlic, ginger, lemongrass and black pepper. I did this once and made it as a base for a simple Pho.