Let’s face it: good food costs good money. In my area, a nice pasture-raised broiler fetches between $4 and $5 / lb. I count my stars that it’s this low considering that some national retailers of pastured poultry get away with charging twice that to their customers. It’s expensive, especially when you can run to your corporate-owned, national grocery store and buy a whole roasting bird for a flat $3.99.
While it may be easy to balk at paying upwards of $30 for a single broiler, it’s a cost that’s well-justified. That single, good-quality bird can provide up to five meals for an average family of mindful eaters. You see, a pasture-raised bird – expensive as it might seem – provides more nutrients than a conventional bird. Pasture-raised broilers, allowed to access a natural diet, are richer in beta carotene, retinol and omega-3 fatty acids than their factory-farmed, $3.99 counterparts. A good quality, pastured bird goes a long, long way.
Meal #1: Roast Chicken with Vegetables
Start it simple; prepare a good roast chicken. It’s a classic one-dish meal – gently season your chicken and add it to a casserole dish or clay cooker, add chopped root vegetables to the dish as well and bake at 325 º F for 3 hours before turning the oven up to 400 º F for the last ½ hour. If you’re planning to make this bird last all week long, take care to carve it well and serve small, but satisfactory portions. Two good slices of breast meat and two chicken legs should be enough to feed a family of four, provided you include plenty of vegetables.
Meal #2: Chicken Sandwiches
The next day, slice the remaining breast and tender meat thin and serve them on a good, whole-grain bread with plenty of mayonnaise for lunch. Try nice additions like wasabi mayonnaise, ripe avocado, vegetable sprouts, heirloom tomato and a good raw cheese.
Meal #3: Chicken Salad
For your third meal, try preparing a nice chicken salad. Now that the breast meat, tenders and drumsticks are gone you have the thigh and back meat remaining. Thigh meat is particularly well-suited to chicken salad as it’s moister and more flavorful than breast meat and easier to use than the meat from the drumsticks. Chop the chicken thigh meat well, mix it with mayonnaise, halved grapes, minced parsley, chopped celery and walnuts for a great chicken salad that’s best served over greens.
Meal #4: White Chili
Lastly, pick any remaining meat off the chicken. The back of the chicken is much-neglected in this regard. Fry the meat with onion, garlic and stew it with white beans, green chilies, cumin and oregano for a delicious and simple white chili.
Meal #5: Chicken Soup
Lastly, when the bones have been picked clean of any remaining meat, toss the carcass into a stew pot or slowcooker to prepare a nourishing, mineral-rich roast chicken stock. From here you can prepare many nourishing soups, and you’re also likely to have stock leftover for more uses. Try chicken and wild rice soup, kale and white bean soup or lentil stew.
All in all, at least five nourishing meals from a single broiler makes the price tag of a good, pastured chicken worth it. Remember, budget cuts in your kitchen should come not from cheap food, but from properly managing your kitchen and reducing waste where you can – a whole bird can be stretched, used and stretched again to make that initial investment last.