Thursday, October 6, 2011

Batch Cooking - Roasting Chickens

Last Sunday, Rachel woke up at 5:15 a.m. squalling and clinging and wanting held.  Being my sleeper of the two, I knew that if she arose before her normal 7:00 a.m. wake-up call, then something was bugging her.  We tried rocking and watching Mickey and going back to bed with Mama and nothing was very satisfying to her.  

Actually, when I laid down in bed, I wasn't really thinking straight (being 5:30 and all) and I laid on my back and put her on my chest to see if she would calm down.  The baby is still too little for me to feel all the time, but she must have put pressure on just the right spot because I felt her little brother or sister just hitting and kicking away as if to tell the big lug to get off me!!!  Of course, Rachel couldn't feel her first sibling fight, but it made me smile, despite the early hours.  

My little fighter at 16 weeks.

So we decided to stay home from church and wait out her mood and, since it was cold, I decided that I was going to heat up the oven and spend the morning in the kitchen.  

I had bought two roaster chickens the day before at Harris Teeter when they were $.59/lb and I was thinking that I would roast one in the oven and put one in the Crockpot...until it dawned on me that maybe I could do them both in my roasting pan at the same time.

After researching whether this would work (i.e., Googling), I decided to give it a go and the result was wonderful and took me far less time than if I had used my Crockpot.  (Plus, the next day was garbage day so we wanted to get the scraps in the trash that night...priorities, priorities...)

I threw what veggies I had in the bottom of the roasting pan (carrots, garlic and onions - I didn't have any celery or I would have added that too), washed and dried my chickens and then rubbed them down with salt and pepper and seasoning salt.  I also took about a tbsp of butter and rubbed it on the skin and then just dropped it into the pan (you could also do this with olive oil, but I already had the butter out).  
What??  Chicken butt!!
I cooked them for 25 minutes at 475 degrees and then backed the oven down to 350 and let them go another hour (or until internal temperature was 160).  Not only did my house warm up and smell heavenly, but I also was greeted with something you can never get from the Crockpot...pan drippings.  

I removed the birds and let them cool and then shredded them, throwing the scraps into my big stock pot.  I think it's easier to shred when they're still a little warm - but I have been known to just stick them in the fridge and deal with them the next day like a lazy slug.  Then, I turned on the burners under my roasting pan and started adding flour to my drippings until I had a nice looking gravy (hence my other reason for choosing butter).  I added one chicken worth of shredded goodness.

I  had some mushrooms that were coming close to the end of their life span, so I chopped them up and sauteed them and threw them in the gravy and added salt and pepper, garlic powder and onion powder to taste.  

mmmmmmmmmmm...such easy comfort food.  I cooled it and bagged it up to serve over some rice on a cool day.  The rest of the chicken, I cooled and bagged into two cup portions that will work perfect later in a casserole or quesidillas.   I added onions, garlic, carrots and salt and pepper to the scraps on the stove and enough water to cover everything and set it to simmer for the next three or four hours.  

Which created the perfect aroma by which to nap...

Now, the stock step is one that I never skip because we eat soup a lot in this house - and in the winter, I normally fix a different soup about once a week because it's filling, lower in calories (normally) and an easy way for me to sneak vegetables to my kids.  So I skimmed it and bagged it and stuck it in the freezer.

And my husband was happy because at that point, I finally threw out the carcasses and he could take out the trash.  :)

So that was my latest adventure in batch cooking and it really didn't take that much time.  I also made banana bread and applesauce while the chicken was cooking and was wrapping it all up (except for the stock) by lunch time.  

Not that I felt like making lunch by that time... ha!

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