How to Turn 1 Roasted Chicken Into 3 Family Dinners
As a mom of four small kids, I love dinners you can cook once, then use again in a new way later in the week. I call them "2 Dinners in 1," but today I'm sharing how to be a suppertime overachiever. No two dinners here. Nope, this strategy is a bona fide three-in-one timesaver. After roasting a classic chicken and vegetables, you’ll serve chicken breasts and some of those veggies for a family-friendly meal. Dinner two will be legs and thighs in a simple casserole, and finally on night three, you’ll put leftovers to work in a whole delicious stock. Here’s your game plan for making it work.
Dinner #1: Easy Lemon Roasted Chicken with Carrots & Potatoes (pictured above)
- Use the largest bird you can find, then slather a quickie vinaigrette — I like olive oil, thyme, fresh lemon juice and zest, plus salt and pepper — on both the chicken and vegetables. Be sure to double the amount of vegetables, so you're cooking another dinner’s worth of carrots and potatoes (plus any other vegetables you like, sweet potatoes, butternut squash and so on), and cook them on a separate baking sheet. And if you don’t have enough lemon vinaigrette for the second pan, just use olive oil with salt and pepper.
- Cut up the breasts for dinner, using Alton Brown’s method for carving a turkey, and remove each breast in one large piece before dicing it up to serve. (P.S. Ina Garten does this for chicken too.)
- Serve just the chicken breast and roasted vegetables with a nice loaf of crusty bread and soft salted butter. Reserve everything else — and I do mean everything, including the bones!
Dinner #2: Chicken and Rice Casserole (pictured above from Food Network Magazine)
- Use the diced meat from the chicken legs and thighs. You’ll need two cups of chicken, which should be just the right amount.
- Serve with a green salad, kid-friendly crudite (veggie sticks served in a juice glass, with a tiny pool of dressing at the bottom) or if you have vegetable-resistant eaters, offer a platter of veggies with two to three dipping sauces (hummus, salad dressing, whatever you like) and do a little contest to see which combinations are the tastiest.
- This is an Ina Garten trick. She says you can always throw leftover roasted vegetables into a blender with chicken stock and, voila! Soup. Remember that extra pan of veggies we had? And the remaining chicken bones and scraps? That’s dinner — and it’ll be delicious.
- • First make chicken stock: Pull off any remaining meat from your chicken bones and set aside. Then put your whole chicken, bones, skin — everything — into the slow cooker. Add a cut onion and smashed cloves of garlic, plus salt and pepper, for flavor. Fill the insert entirely with water and set it on low. Let it cook overnight or all day long (about eight to 10 hours).
- Strain the broth to remove all bones, skin and other stray bits. You want a big pot of nice, clear chicken stock. Pour this into a blender, along with your pan of pre-roasted vegetables, and pulse until you get a thick, chunky soup. Heat it in a saucepan and serve with rolls. Prepare Ina’s crunchy croutons, or try our favorite bread machine whole-wheat rolls.
Charity Curley Mathews is a mom of four small kids (ages 8 months to 5 years) and blogs at Foodlets.com: Mini Foodies in the Making…Maybe. Her site is full of simple recipes and practical tips for cooking real food from the start.