This is the year* for whole chicken experimentation for me. Prior to these past several months I had NEVER cooked a full bird. Thighs, breasts, legs, wings - yes, but the whole chicken as one? Never. I was intimidated. I mean, if you screw it up you screw up an entire animal. I don't know, I just felt immense pressure for some reason. Also, it looks pretty fancy to present an entire animal in all its crispy skin & glowing glory (in the case of the roasted chicken) or to make soup using the entire animal at once, because I mean, how does it all cook so fast and evenly?!
Fast forward to February 2016. I have roasted an entire chicken almost a dozen times, and made chicken soup twice in the past month! And honestly, they are SO easy to cook - and super economical! It cost me $2.69/lb of chicken plus a few bucks for organic carrots, celery, and an onion. I'll round up to $20 (although it shouldn't cost that much). I made probably 8 mason jars (2+ cups per mason jar) of chicken soup which would making a filling 8 meals costing $2.50 per meal for organic, delicious, protein packed real whole food. Not to mention the delicious factor and comfort food factor (especially when sick as I unfortunately currently am. #wompwomp). And did I mention how easy it is to cook a whole chicken? SO easy. I used my InstantPot to make the soup and omg it's crazy fast. 35 minutes is all it took on high pressure and the chicken was falling off the bone when I took it out of the pot.
If chicken soup isn't your thing or you don't think that you'll consume that much soup, you could always take half of your soup once it's done and convert it into chicken pot pie filling! That is what I did the last time I made this recipe and it was delicious. I loved having it in a bowl on top of cauliflower rice or even roasted vegetables. If you like rice you could have it with white or brown rice too. Additionally, if you wanted real chicken pot pie crust and all, you could use your grandma's legendary pie crust recipe, Brittany Angell's pie crust recipe (which I have used as a chicken pot pie crust before), or Mr. Pillsbury's crust if that is how you fly. (I'm not a fan, clearly I stray away from the conventional crustiness that is gluten, but you do you, you do you). Either way, this comfort food recipe is mindlessly easy and maximally delicious.
*past 12 months, not calendar year
Prep time: 15 minutes (if your ingredients are not yet cut)
Cook time: 35 minutes
Total time: 60 minutes
1 whole chicken (mine was nearly 5lbs, size does not matter - just make sure it fits in your cooking vessel!)
1lb carrots, diced or chunked (about 4 cups)
1 celery bunch, diced or chunked (about 3 cups)
1 small yellow onion, diced or chunked (about 3/4 cup)
4 cloves garlic, minced (about 3 teaspoons)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon fish sauce (optional, deepens flavor)
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar (optional, my mom doesn't like it but lots of people do, so do what you prefer)
2 bay leafs
Several cups of water
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
1. Place your rinsed chicken in the InstantPot (a regular pressure cooker would work too - just make sure that you adjust cooking time accordingly. Additionally, a slow cooker would work too - probably 6 hours on low, but I've not tried it so I'm not positive. But overnight is a safe bet!)
2. Add your diced carrots, celery, onion, garlic, s&p, bay leafs and apple cider vinegar and fish sauce if you choose.
3. Fill the pot with water making sure that you fully submerge the chicken yet do not exceed the "do not fill" line if you are using a pressure cooker or instant pot.
4. Set the instant pot to 35 minutes (or a timer if your using another means).
5. Once it's done I recommend taking out and placing all the chicken in a large bowl. This way you can remove the bones and shred the chicken. Once shredded add the fresh thyme and bottle up the soup, veg, and chicken …for the weeks meals ;)
To make half of the soup into Chicken Pot Pie Filling-
2-3 teaspoons arrowroot powder
1. Add 2 cups of broth (no veggies or chicken) to a braiser or dutch oven on low heat.
2. Whisk in the arrowroot powder 1 teaspoon at a time. After two teaspoons continue whisking for another 3 minutes. The broth should be a thick consistency – similar to that of tempered chocolate when you test it on the back of a spoon. (As seen here- though I remember learning this from watching Jacques Torres on PBS when I was 8)
3. Once thick, add in 4 or so cups of veggies and chicken. Stir to make sure the veggies and chicken are fully coated in the thickened broth.
4. Adjust the ratio by adding more arrowroot if it’s not thick enough (though be patient and don’t add too much in too quickly!) or add more broth and arrowroot if you’re adding more veg and chicken.