How to Roast a Chicken to Feed a Family for a Week

This weekend, while I was at the family farm, we got to discussing the size of the chickens being slaughtered.  I personally am all about a 6-7 pound bird.  At the store I can only get 3-4 pounds birds.  I don’t find this to be enough for what I expect to do.  Christopher (Head Farm Steward) finds that many of his customers want the smaller birds and don’t know what to do with the bigger one.  My family of four can decimate a 3-4 pound bird in one sitting.  I almost never make a meal that doesn’t have left overs.  We eat them for lunch the next day, so a 3-4 pound bird leaves me without my lunch.  While Christopher and I were packing up the birds and working on a million other projects, we decided to provide his readers with a meal plan to help them learn what to do over a week with a large bird.

This weeks menu:

Grocery List:

salad Small bag whole wheat flour
baby carrots flour
1 C baby zuchinni cake flour
1 C baby squash baking powder
2 C spinach cornstarch
½ C green beans instant yeast
5 lemons salad dressing
fresh basil red pepper flakes
red onion salt
2 onion lemon pepper
sage leaves pepper
1 bag carrots herbs de provence
3 rutabaga curry powder
2 turnip 1 lb pasta
2 parsnip orzo
1 sweet potato slivered almonds
chives roasted nuts
1 bunch thyme ½ C cider vinegar
1 head garlic olive oil
celery mayonnaise
peas dry white wine
green onions  honey
fruit chutney
hard apple cider
Parmesan cheese
1 Chism Heritage Farm Chicken
heavy whipping cream
3 eggs
2 TBS butter

To begin with, we have to bake the chicken.  This is such a nice fix it and forget it thing to do.  The only problem I ever run into is getting the chicken thawed out and remembering it’s ready to bake.  The flavoring on this is simply the chicken.  These have such a nice flavor, nothing else is needed.  On this prep day, you will need to cook the chicken, make broth and start the bread.  Starter for the bread can be prepared ahead of this even.  An excellent tutorial can be found at A Bread A Day.  Ingredients on the grocery list reflect this recipe.

Easy Baked Chicken

  • 1 Chism Heritage Farm Chicken
  • 2-3 TBS melted butter
  • salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  (Why 400? It’s a good temperature for this.  If you go 350 you will still cook the chicken, it will just take longer.)  Salt the chicken all over.  Melt butter and brush on breast and legs.  Cook until 170-175 degrees on a meat thermometer.  Brush with drippings every 15 minutes or so for a really nice skin, or forget about it and wonder why your timer is going off and find a perfectly good chicken when you pull it out.  Cook one hour for the first four pounds and add 8 minutes for each additional pound.

  • 3 lb – 1 hour
  • 4 lb – 1 hour
  • 5 lb – 1 hour 8 minutes
  • 6 lb – 1 hour 16 minutes
  • 7 lb – 1 hour 24 minutes

Mostly I just wander off and once in a while smell something and go test it for temperature.  Often I put it in at 3:30 when I leave to pick my son up from school and it’s mostly done when I get home.

After roasting the bird, let it cool for 15 minutes on the counter.  If you want to trim it for immediate eating it’s ready.  For this meal plan, we will take all the meat off the bones and cube it.  By combining it with other ingredients we can make it stretch further.  Once cubed, put in a large zip lock bag and refrigerate it until ready to use.

Chicken Broth

  • leftover chicken bones from cubing chicken
  • 1/2 C cider vinegar
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 onion, quartered
  • 2 sprigs thyme
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • salt
  • pepper

Place all ingredients in a pot and cover with cold water.  Let sit for one hour.  Turn on heat and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for several hours or until you can’t stand cooking it anymore.  Let cool and put in fridge overnight.  In morning skim off fat.  Broth with be gel like consistency.

Stay tuned for….

Day 1:  Chicken Salad, great hot weather fare!

Jacquelyne Aubuchon is a guest contributor to this blog and a loving sister and aunt to the residents of Chism Heritage Farm.  You can contact her at or keep up with what she is doing at City Roots and Fruits.

How Many Meals Can You Get From One Chicken?

Several customers have requested help figuring out how to use a whole chicken without feeding part of it to the dog.  This is more of an issue for singles and empty-nesters than for parents of hungry teens.  I would like this to be a regular feature but I’ll get started simply.  Forgive me if I go too fast.  Feel free to ask for more detail in the comments.

We try to get three meals out of a chicken for the six people in our house.  Most commonly we thaw the chicken well, mix melted butter, garlic, salt and pepper, give the chicken a good coating of the mixture inside and out, place most of a quartered onion in the vent hole and the remainder in the flap at the neck.  We place the bird in a cake pan with the breast up and bake at 350 for about 15 minutes per pound.  As the bird bakes, the breast will brown.  My youngest son likes flaky skin but you can get carried away.  When it’s brown enough for your taste, cover the breast with a tent of aluminum foil until it is finished.  We usually fight over the leg quarters with the evening meal.  The girls eat a bit of the breast too.

After supper we cut off the remaining breast meat for use in another meal and place the carcass in a stewpot with half an onion, a few carrots, a bit of celery and a splash of vinegar.  We usually let this stew for at least 24 hours helping drain the bones of all minerals (see Susan Fallon’s Nourishing Traditions.)  Then we separate the broth from the meat and bones.  We sometimes stop here and just can the broth which you can use for anything.  More often we add the meat back in, add a freshly chopped half of onion, a few carrots and a few stalks of celery along with a few spices.  We allow this to boil for around 30 minutes while we make noodles.

You’re not done with those chicken bones!  When they are finished boiling they will be soft and crumbly rather than brittle.  Soft bones are no longer a choking hazard for the dog or pigs, the cat will love them or they will compost quickly.  You can still find uses for them even when you’re finished eating…there is no waste.

By doing this we can feed six people at least three times, usually with a bit of leftover chicken soup for the pigs.  This kind of use makes a $15.00 chicken easy to swallow.  If you picked the bones clean at the first meal (as sometimes happens) you should still be able to make a good broth out of the carcass.  If nothing else, you can use the broth to make the best mashed potatoes you have ever eaten.

Now, I think we’re doing a good job being frugal with the bird but my sister can do even better.  She’ll be publishing a series here on how to really stretch a chicken.  I’m looking forward to it…even if I’m not a big fan of mayonnaise.