Every Mom at my school has a week night schedule that involves running their kids to various locations for practice, games, lessons and school functions. It’s hard to pass by the drive thru in these cases because it saves so much time and energy when dinner or after-school snacks are another hassle in a busy day. The drive thru or eating out, though, every night, or even every other night gets to be really expensive and is not the best choice for growing bodies. And as an adult, the growing body becomes a real issue because of weight gain and cholesterol! I mean, think about it, are these places looking for high quality food or the cheapest food available. If the restaurant (using “restaurant” here in the loosest of terms) can serve a chicken sandwich or a burger for $1.00 and they’re making $1.2 billion a year, then that pretty much tells me. . . it’s not the best.
Many of the bloggers with school-age kids are talking about “Meal Plans.” A Meal Plan saves time and makes eating at home during the week a lot easier! It only takes a couple minutes to plan a few quick and easy dinners using food prepared on the weekend that can lend itself to lots of different recipes and tastes. Roasted Whole Organic Chicken is one of these Meal Plan basics that is just too easy!!! I bought my organic whole chickens at Food Lion on clearance. They are regularly about $8 – 9 a piece, I bought both for that price because they were about 3 days away from being outdated. I brought them home and froze them immediately.
A few words about chicken, I buy organic as much possible. My CSA, Savage River Farm, has whole roasting chickens in the summer, but not any roasting birds right now, just stew chickens, which are great for stocks, soups, etc, but not enough meat to just eat on their own. Chicken that is not organic is loaded with steroids, antibiotics and hormones. Not saying we never eat it, I just try to avoid it when I can. Now, since we’ve discussed the benefits of eating organic chicken, let’s talk about the drawbacks. Organic chicken is not injected with any solutions to make it taste juicy and tender. That can be accomplished, though, by brining.
Brining involves letting the whole chickens soak in a giant pot of salt water with whole peppercorns, garlic, onions and lemons. It changes the meat in the chicken so that when it’s cooked, it’s delicious, especially if the chicken is coated with seasoning and herbs, and stuffed with onions, lemons and herbs.
If I’m brining one chicken, I may as well do two and use the leftovers, or Meal Plan, for the rest of the week. When the chicken came out of the oven, I served it with mashers, gravy (brined chickens make spectacular gravy), whisky carrots and rolls. I used the leftovers to make my first ever batch of White Chicken Chili (it was delicious warmed up, with a salad for lunch), which disappeared faster than any soup I’ve ever made, and a quart of Homemade Alphabet Chicken Noodle for Joss T.
Roasted Whole Organic Chicken can also be used for chicken salad with grapes and pecans and served with crackers (perfect to pack for an after-school snack or for lunch at work) or just shredded on a salad, BBQ chicken or with taco seasoning and warmed up for tostadas, quesadillas and tacos. Two of my family’s favorites with leftover chicken and leftover gravy are chicken potpie and chicken gravy over biscuits.
Roasted Whole Organic Chickens are the basis for an easy weekly Meal Plan that can stretch your food budget's dollar and keep you and your kids out of the drive-thru. Spend a little time on the weekend and benefit all week long!
- Prep Time : 15 minutes
- Cook Time : 1h 30 min
- Yield : 2 whole chickens
- salt - kosher, coarse, 1/2 cup
- water - about 1 - 2 gallons, enough to completely cover 2 chickens in a large pot with a lid
- lemons - 4- 2 sliced for brine and 2 halved for stuffing chickens
- onions - 4 - 2 halved for brine and 2 halved for stuffing chickens
- garlic - 8 cloves, smashed - 4 for brine and 4 for stuffing chickens
- peppercorns - 2 Tbsp
- For chickens
- whole organic chickens - 2
- EVOO or butter - about 3 Tbs
- onions - listed above (2 halved)
- lemons - listed above (2 halved)
- parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme - any or all, fresh is best, but dried will be fine
- garlic - listed above (2 smashed for each chicken)
- Weber Kick'n Chicken Seasoning - 2 Tbsp
- chicken stock - 1 - 48 oz box
- celery - 4 stalks
- kitchen twine
Run a big pot about 1/2 way full of water, add the salt, stir until is dissolves. Add the lemon slices, onion quarters or slices and garlic, the whole peppercorns and add the thawed chickens (don't forget to remove the organs and neck from the cavity and any plastic pieces) and cover. Allow the chicken to brine overnight in a refrigerator.
The next day, preheat oven to 375 degrees F, about 2 hours before serving, remove the chickens from the pot, rinse well under running water for about 5 minutes to remove the salt. Discard the brine. Pat the chickens dry with a paper towel, fold the wings under stuff the chickens with the celery, garlic, onions, lemons and some of the herbs. Tie the chicken legs together with chicken twine (if needed) to hold the stuffing in the cavity. Place the chickens in a roaster or in two Dutch or French ovens.
Rub the outside of the chickens with EVOO or butter, season with 1 Tbsp each of the Kick'n Chicken Seasoning and the diced herbs. Carefully pour the chicken stock in the Dutch ovens around the chicken. If using a roaster, pour the chicken stock in the bottom of the roasting pan and cover with sprayed foil. Place in the oven for about 1 1/2 hours, depending on the size of the chickens. Remove the foil or the lids to brown the chickens for the last 15 minutes of cooking. The chickens are done when they reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees F. Do not overcook, the chicken will dry out.
Remove from oven and allow to rest, covered, for 10 - 15 minutes before serving. Carve and serve! Remove the leftover meat from the bone for storage. The carcass can be boiled down for stock or soup.