Roast chicken is the gift that keeps on giving. Whether you make a homemade roast chicken or turn to a store-bought rotisserie bird for a convenient weeknight dinner, there are more meals here than you might think.
Most of us view roast chicken as our ticket to two, or even three meals, but there's so much more to it. Let's take a walk through the five life stages of a roast chicken to see how to get the very most out of a single roast bird.
Stage 1: Homemade or Store-Bought
You've got a decision to make — will you roast a chicken at home or buy an ultra convenient rotisserie chicken from the grocery store? Either way, you can't go wrong. Both can be absolutely delicious and convenient.
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Stage 2: Chicken Dinner
Eat that chicken! Roast chicken dinners are so satisfying and comforting, especially as we settle into the fall and winter months. Carve up the bird, pile your plate with chicken, mashed potatoes and greens. And, of course, don't forget the gravy!
Stage 3: Pick the Carcass & Use the Leftover Meat
After your first dinner of roast chicken, pick over the carcass for all the left-behind meat. Even if it looks like you ate most of the meat, there should be quite a lot of little bites left. There may not be enough leftover chicken for it to be the main course of your second meal, but there are about 101 ways you can repurpose those leftovers into a brand new, complete meal. Use chicken scraps for lunch by making chicken salad, or bulking up a green salad. Repurpose one comfort food into another by making pot pie, add shredded chicken to the top of a pizza, or consider homemade burritos. You might not have the exact amount of meat that the recipe calls for, but that's ok. Just substitute in beans, veggies, or rice.
Stage 4: Make Chicken Stock
Whenever I eat roast chicken, homemade or store-bought, I always save the carcass to make stock. It's easy to do, and there are so many uses for it. If you don't have the time right away to do this, just throw the chicken carcass into the freezer and pull it out when you have time to make a batch of stock on the stove, in the slow cooker, or in the pressure cooker.
And, even if you don't have an immediate use for chicken stock, you can always freeze it for later. You'll need it eventually.
Stage 5 - Make Soup or Risotto with the Chicken Broth
Roast chicken is the gift that keeps on giving. And in this case that gift is an entirely new meal. One that, aside from stock, may not even involve chicken at all. Use the stock to make a comforting batch of soup or chili, or a luxurious bowl of risotto.