So I made roast chicken this week. It was exciting (really!). I was excited because I love roast chicken, and so was Mr Scrumptious, but I was also excited because I get really happy about how I can use up the rest of the chicken once the roast dinner is over.
I want to remind you all that buying a whole chicken for roasting can be an economical way of buying chicken if you know how to make the best use of the whole bird. Daddy Scrumptious can make a chicken serve two people for a whole week, without anyone getting too bored of it, and I’ve taken his frugal ways to heart.
However, many people are simply unaware of the range of things you can do to really get all you can out of your bird, and eat what they can for Sunday dinner and chuck the rest out! So to help combat this sorry waste, I thought I’d compile a list of uses for leftover components of a roast chicken (meat, bones/stock, and fat).
Please feel free to add your own in the comments.
The cover photo shows two uses on the go- a chicken curry on the right, and chicken bones and skin boiling down for stock on the left.
- Curry (South Asian style? Thai? Chinese style?), biryani, or tagine
- Stir fry or fried rice
- Chicken cabbage rolls
- Yuk Sung
- Cold chicken for salads, sandwiches, wraps or snacking
- Pasta or pasta bake (this is a whole list in itself, but I’ll just say one word- carbonara). For a shortcut to carbonara, use a tin of mushroom soup. (You can also use this as a chicken and mushroom pie or pasty filling)
- Salad or pasta salad
- Add to stuffed peppers
- Coronation chicken (sneer if you will, I love the stuff as a picnic treat in summer)
- Risotto or stroganoff
- Cajun chicken and chorizo bake, slightly reducing the temperature and cooking time. You may want to brown the chorizo first.
The only thing you can really do with chicken bones is make stock, and then throw out or compost the bones when the stock is made.
When you make stock, weigh up in your mind that although you don’t have to be there the whole time, the process is time and energy (in the gas or electric sense) consuming, so you have to decide whether it’s worth it for you.
I wouldn’t recommend making stock if you have an electric hob, because electricity is so much more costly per unit than gas. Nor in the height of summer, where you don’t want your kitchen to be full of chicken-y steam.
If you’re going to do it often, do it on a chill winter’s day where you don’t need to go out, and enjoy the heat filling your kitchen. I’d also strongly recommend using a pressure cooker, as they greatly reduce cooking times and are great for getting out every drop of flavour from the carcass.
My favourite thing to do with the stock, once it’s taken on a good colour and tastes of chicken more than of water, is to fish out all the bones and skin, plunder any last overlooked scraps of meat, and then add leeks and potatoes to make a deliciously rich chicken, leek and potato soup. This has been enjoyed by the faddiest of eaters and also gained the Daddy Scrumptious badge of approval.
You can also use your homemade stock in risottos, casseroles, and so on- anywhere that you would have used a made-up stock cube! You can keep it in the fridge for a few days, or freeze it for months. Freeze it in tupperware containers, or, rather more niftily, use an ice cube tray, then decant the cubes into a bag. You can then use homemade chicken stock straight from the freezer in your dishes.
Chicken fat has a lot of uses, and is a particularly popular ingredient in Ashkenazi Jewish cookery. It can be used instead of dairy fats in order to obey kosher (kashrut) restrictions. If one wanted to make a kosher chicken pie, for instance, one would use chicken fat rather than butter in the pastry, so as not to mix milk and meat in the same dish.
Chicken fat is also incredibly tasty and imparts a beautiful flavour. I’d recommend it for roast potatoes, and for frying vegetables which will be used in chicken dishes. It’s a wonderful substitute for olive oil in a chicken risotto.
If you’re old school and remember eating bread and dripping, chicken fat from the roasting tin is even better, in my opinion. Find or make some good bread and you have a deliciously simple old-fashioned snack. It may not be a health food, but it is goshdarned tasty. Or use it instead of butter on your cold chicken sandwich.
Alternatively, you can use the chicken fat to make croutons and fried onions to top your homemade chicken soup. If you don’t eat the chicken skin with your roast, bake it, smothered in the fat, to make chicken crisps. They’re like a kosher version of scratchings- salty, definitely not good for you, but very tasty.
Hopefully some of these ideas will have tickled your tastebuds and sharpened your appetite for what comes after the roast dinner!
Love, Miss Scrumptious x