I am always looking for ways to make our groceries stretch a bit further. Below I share two fairly simple and, ingredient-wise, flexible recipes. Generally, I purchase produce that is in season and/or on sale, so my ingredients vary from one making to the next. Not only can I warm the house with the oven when I bake the chicken, but the warm soup a few days later is perfect on a cold evening. BEST of all? The soup is a chance to pump Ilana full of vitamins and veggies.
This is a variation of a recipe from my aunt; regardless of the seasonings used, the chicken turns out delicious. The skin is crisp (my husband enjoys this), the breast meat moist, and my favorite part—it lends itself to another meal.
It doesn’t really matter too terribly much if you put the chicken in chilled, but if you have the time, letting the chicken reach room temperature (preferably seasoned already), it does make for a slightly tastier result.
Wash the chicken, pat dry, and cover with desired seasonings. I am a huge fan of either prime rib seasoning or, as I used for this post, Greek seasoning blend.* As I cover the chicken with spices, I put some inside the bird and also pull up a small amount of the skin around the tail-end of the chicken breast and spread the seasoning between skin and meat on the thigh, leaving as much of the skin attached as I can, repeating these steps near the top of the breast/neck area.
I cook the chicken at 425 degrees in a roasting pan for 90 minutes total. After 30 minutes, I add whatever root vegetable I have around the house (potato, beet, turnip, parsnip, and/or carrot). For this post, I used golden beets and carrots.
The chicken cooks the remaining hour with the vegetables. After the chicken rests for ten minutes, cut up and serve.
I served mine with artichokes, asparagus, Parmesan risotto, and the beets and carrots that cooked with the chicken.
*If I have time and our herb garden is flourishing, I use fresh chopped herbs (parsley, oregano, thyme, rosemary); they make the difference between a great chicken and a fantastic one.
“Clean Out the Fridge” Soup
When I make soup from scratch, I try to time it to happen the same week I bake a chicken. I love this idea because I get to use the carcass of the chicken to make my stock and the leftover meat is used in the soup. Note: even if you do not have the time or desire to bake a chicken, you could always follow these same steps for the soup with the bones from a store-bought rotisserie chicken, too.
As we eat the baked chicken throughout the week, we save the bones (just in a bag in the fridge). The day I make the soup, I use any leftover pieces of chicken in the soup, using their bones, too, to make the stock.
I line my roasting pan with foil to ensure easy cleanup. Roast the chicken bones in the oven on 450 degrees for 45 minutes. You will think they are burning, the bones may even tip-toe to the edge of what would be called ‘burned’—this is normal. Roasting at a high temperature for that time not only cooks a tremendous amount of fat off the bones, but it gives a rich taste to the broth as well.
So…now you have your roasted bones. The broth is a place my produce can stretch further. Throughout my weeknight meals, I save (almost) any part of vegetables we don’t eat. Think: tops of carrots, green beans ends, broccoli and cauliflower bases, ends of asparagus, tops of beets, and the like. They soften and cook, releasing their nutritional benefits, and once the stock is made, you strain out these pieces.
When I start my broth, I add in those saved vegetable parts with the roasted bones. Cover the vegetable parts and bones with water, add a few whole peppercorns, salt to taste (we like a lot of it), a bay leaf or two, and some cloves of garlic just cracked with the hilt of a knife.
Cook the broth at a soft boil, covered, for 40 minutes. Strain; I use a large colander first, toss the big pieces, then pour the broth through a small strainer into the pot to catch the smaller pieces.
Add chopped veggies, a grain, and meat to your soup (keep in mind both grain cook time and which vegetables you’d like crisper, which softer, and add them in at the appropriate intervals.) Taste and adjust the pepper or salt. Cook about 30 minutes or until vegetables reach desired tenderness.
For this post, I used what I already had in my fridge and pantry: carrots, green beans, bell pepper, corn, tomatoes, broccoli, and elbow pasta. For the protein/meat, I used one of the breasts and a leg from the chicken I made Sunday. I served the soup with corn tortillas.
What are your favorite money-saving, time-saving, tasty meals?