I prefer making meals that will end up as two or three. In many cases, I really prefer the 'leftover' meals. So this is my usual chicken routine.
I buy my chicken as frozen thigh quarters from Aldi's. Not that that the source matters, or that it's frozen. The only significance here is that it comes in packages of 5 quarters, and that it's about fifty cents a pound.
I consider one thigh quarter or one breast quarter to be a double serving. Most men will eat both servings, most women will not. Dale will eat 2 or 3 servings, Cor 2, myself 1, Raederle 1 or none. That's six of the 10 servings in the bag, leaving 4 for leftovers.
I used to cut it up before cooking. I've now concluded that is a waste of time. So, if you're interested, here goes:
Chicken and Noodles
6- quart pan, half full of water
5 thigh quarters
about 2 Tbsp of chicken bouillon
at least one onion (quartered)
at least three stalks of celery (cut in 2-inch lengths)
1 dozen potatoes
1 lb baby carrots
any other fresh vegetables you have lying around
that you think you might like in it
pepper and garlic to taste
maybe parsley, rosemary, sage, thyme
Broiled Chicken with Vegetables
Boil the chicken with any vegetables that you aren't going to want to eat. I put the celery and onion in here, since we don't eat those cooked. I use the whole onion and any parts of the celery that we don't eat - tough outer stalks and leaves.
(Personally, I put lima beans on to cook at this point. Probably you wouldn't, because you don't like lima beans. Cor didn't either. That's because people have this notion about 'crisp-tender', and that just doesn't cut it with limas. I cook two packages at a time (we eat them so fast and so often that cooking one package is a waste of time and burner heat). The taste of the bean develops as it is cooked longer, so I cook them for over an hour: Put them into enough water to cover them, cover and bring to a boil, reduce to a slow simmer, and cook *just* until all water is evaporated. This method puts all the taste and nutrients cooked out into the water back onto the bean. Add butter and stir. Delicious.)
Boil until the chicken is *just* done to your taste. For me that means that the meat is pulling away from the bones.
Remove the chicken to a broiler pan. Use care not to dislodge the skin. Add barbeque sauce or seasonings to taste. I use just McCormick's Seasoned Pepper Blend. Remove the spent vegetables from the stock.
Since I want to cook the potatoes and carrots yet, I don't broil the chicken yet. I heat the oven, then turn it off, and store the chicken in there.
Cook the carrots and potatoes and any other vegetables that you want to eat in the chicken stock. It's just not the same thing to have them cooking in separate pots at the same time as the chicken, for two reasons. I want the flavor of the chicken cooked into the vegetables, and I want the nutrients of the vegetables left in the stock. When they are done, remove them and make gravy while you broil the chicken.
This should make about a quart of gravy. We use less than a cup of it with dinner, leaving plenty for other meals. But you might want to use the stock to make dumplings to go with the meal. This will result in less gravy for other meals, but it's *so* worth it!
Add one cup water to three cups bisquick (or equivalent), dump by large serving spoon into boiling chicken stock, cover, return to boil. Dumplings are probably done within a minute after boiling. Don't walk away and leave it; boiling chicken gravy for very long turns it gummy.
Save for soup:
Make sure to save the bones from the chicken. If you aren't making soup right away, store the bones in the freezer in a plastic bag. Save at least two servings of chicken, one cup of gravy, and leftover carrots.
Chicken bones (you *did* save the bones from your
chicken-and-rice, right? and from your Kentucky Fried?)
(Be SURE to keep the cartilage from the bone ends. It is this,
rather than simple bone stock, that gives the cold symptom relief.
1 C homemade chicken gravy
leftover chicken (If I have leftover breast,
this is the time to use it, since it tends
to be dryer than the dark meat.)
and other vegetables you want to throw in
Aaaaaaand - canned chicken soup
Put the bones in the largest pot you have and boil them. Add any 'garbage' vegetables you have lying around - celery tops, outer leaf of cabbage, onion skin.
Boil. Boil more. Boil uncovered - let the steam humidify your house. Boil it on high, to get the nutrients out of the bones. Add water every hour or so. Try to keep the bones covered with water. I boil them 2 or 3 days. Boil until the ends of the bones turn tender and will crumble easily. Raederle and I eat these ends; then I put them back in and boil some more, to get the center of the bone cooked into the broth. If you cook them all day, turn it off a couple hours before retiring, cover and leave out all night. In the winter you can do this for a week (if like most people you turn the thermostat down at night), in the summer, I don't like to go more than two nights. But then, I don't do this much in the summer, because of the heat added to the kitchen.
"Ah", you may say, "What is the point of making my own chicken soup when all the gas I'm using to cook it makes it more expensive than the canned variety?"
When you can't stand to boil the bones anymore, strain the broth and cook the noodles. I use *lots* of noodles. Don't cook them too much, since they will end up softening more before the soup is gone. Turn off the heat and let the soup cool before continuing, to avoid as much more softening as possible.
Now assemble the soup. Add the leftover carrots, the cup of gravy, and the commercial soup to add all those other little flavorings.
Chicken and Noodles
NOT, in my book, the same as chicken soup, which I admit could answer to the same description.
I use any commercial dried chicken noodle meal. I add half again as much liquid and a few of my own noodles to double the amount. Then, just before it's done, I add about a third cup gravy and whatever chicken I still have left around (usually one serving).
Not rocket science. If I have a fair amount of potatoes and carrots left, as well as gravy and chicken, I simply combine them, cutting the potatoes into small cubes. I also add canned peas and perhaps a bit of dumpling or stuffing cubes to take up extra gravy.