Congratulations. You’ve just cooked a chicken. You may be carving it up, prematurely because you are eager to get to the table. What’s the next thing you do?
Clean that roasting pan while it is hot and before things begin to “clunk” on the bottom and sides?
No. Leave the pan. Using that pan, which is a treasure trove of flavors, is your first step. Your chicken should rest before you can carve it up anyway. So, put the roasting pan on your stove top. Stir the juice there with a wooden spoon. Break up the solid bits that are “flavor piles” lying there. Now, add something. Peas, beans, corn, onions or a combination of some or all. How much to add? It depends on your chicken but easily two or three cups of veggies is fine. You may want to add a little butter for flavor and additional liquid. Sprinkle the top with lemon juice. Some salt, some pepper. Stir over medium heat for 3-7 minutes until thoroughly cooked. If you wish, add some white wine or even sparkling. Keep in the pan on low heat to remain warm as you finally do carve up that chicken. Then serve as your side dish, adjusting the seasonings to your taste.
You’ve just made a one pot meal in two stages.
Now for step two. After dinner, return to that carcass. Strip it of the remaining meat. For a normal size chicken that has been carved up before to serve 2-3 people, the carcass will still have nearly a cup of scraps on it. After all, when you are carving and want to begin eating, you really have not focused on stripping off all the meat. Now you can. Except, except, you don’t want to get every last scrap of meat off. Get rid of the skin, but leave the ultimate final bits of meat on the bone. Then crush the carcass into pieces, and put the mess into a plastic bag. Put the bag in the refrigerator or refrigerator.
You’ve just made the protein component for a terrific stock. The next day, the next week, plunge those bones with vegetable scraps into cold water and heat to a simmer. Let it simmer for hours. Indulge in the fragrant scents. The resulting broth, once you have removed the chicken pieces and any veggie chunks, is perfect by itself for a simple meal. Or add noodles. Or make risotto.
The Chicken Salad
And now for step three. When you did strip off the carcass, you got some meat, perhaps up to a full cup. Place the meat into a metal bowl. Add mayonnaise, in the ratio 3 parts meat to one part mayo. [Or, if your wife is not going to eat it, make the ratio 2 to 1]. Add some lemon juice to taste, plus salt and pepper. I like to add about a quarter cup of chopped candied jalapenos for heat and sweetness. Or you can add pickle. When you were making that roast chicken and perhaps a salad, there may have been some onion pieces or herbs that were chopped up. You have to clean your kitchen up anyway. Don’t treat those goodies as trash. They are finishing components.
Mix it all up and refrigerate.
You’ve just made some wonderful chicken salad. Not the manufactured goop you find in your store. But, real home-made chicken salad. It’s ready to be scooped onto lettuce, put in a sandwich or used top off your favorite crackers.
You roasted a chicken, but then you accomplished a great deal more.
Photo credits: Canon T21 with 18-55 mm Macro lens, first shot at F/4.0, 1/60th second, ISO 400 and the second at F/5.0, 1/50th second, ISO 3200.