Making a roast chicken is one of the smartest meal-planning moves you can make. Why? Because you can actually stretch that one measly chicken into five dinners.
If you can roast a chicken on Monday – and you can, I have faith in you – you’ll set yourself up for a week of flavourful, easy meals.
First, the roast chicken itself. The best way to roast a chicken is the Thomas Keller way. This is an objective fact. It’s the fastest, and it only requires three ingredients. And it’s also the most delicious, so really there’s no arguing with it. The basic premise is that the bird is roasted at high temperature for a shorter time, so the skin gets deliciously crisp, and the meat stays succulently moist.
Start with 4-5 lb chicken*, some kosher salt and pepper, and some fresh thyme. Let the bird come to room temperature, and then make sure you dry it really well, inside and out, with paper towel. The drier the bird, the crisper the skin will be. The liberally sprinkle the inside and out of the chicken with salt (about 1 tablespoon) and pepper. Place it in a roasting pan, truss it (not necessary but helps the bird roast more evenly and stay moist), and roast at 450 for roughly 60-70 minutes. Try not to open the oven as this will lower the temperature, and increase the cooking time. Test the chicken with a meat thermometer in the thigh – the internal temp should be 165. Once cooked, removed the chicken from the oven, and let it rest for 15 minutes before carving.
*This is best for two people
Now that your chicken is cooked – on to the meals!
Monday: Roast Chicken (duh)
You just roasted a delicious chicken, obviously you’re going to eat it. Keller recommends eating the chicken breast with butter and mustard, with crusty bread and a green salad, and I am not one to argue with someone who could be described as America’s best chef.
Tuesday: Crispy Chicken Thighs + Quinoa
Tonight the succulent dark meat takes centre stage. In order to restore the crispiness of the skin, you’re going to re-fry the thighs and wings. Serve with roasted veggies over lemony quinoa (this is easier than it sounds). Tuesday night you’ll also need to pick all the rest of the meat off the chicken and start a broth using the bones.
Wednesday: Chicken Kimchi Fried Rice
Kimchi fried rice is one of my absolute favourite dishes because not only is the delicious, but also because you can sub in any protein you have on hand. Also, it’s insanely easy. It also makes a a great lunch for bringing to work the next day!
Thursday: Leek & Mushroom Stew
Tonight you get to use some of that delicious stock to make a hearty, warming stew. This one combines leeks and mushroom with barley and cannellini beans. Serve with crusty rolls (or don’t, like I said, it’s pretty hearty). Make sure you save some stock for Friday though!
Friday: Butternut Squash Risotto
Risotto is one of those things that sounds super impressive and difficult, but in reality is very easy (although somewhat needy, timewise). You can use virtually any veggie you have on hand for this, but given the season I’m partial to butternut squash.
That’s it, you’ve stretched a chicken for a whole week, and not let any of it go to waste! Congratulations.