I have been roasting three chickens in my turkey pan, freezing the meat in meal-sized portions, and making several quarts of stock with all of bones and such. This has been a great solution. I have chicken ready in the freezer for those meals that have to be prepared quickly, which has been a lifesaver through this unscheduled season.
Here's how I've been doing it:
First, I thaw out my chickens in the fridge. Then, I rub them with extra virgin olive oil and place them in my turkey roasting pan. You see here that these three were so big that one had to fit on its side. (I also use this pan for cooking up huge quantities of pumpkin and such.) I sprinkle them with salt and pepper only since I don't know the final dish the meat will make. I wouldn't want clashing herbs or seasonings!
Then, I cover the chickens by making a "tent" with foil. The pan came with a lid, but I prefer to allow some air circulation.
I oven-roast the chickens at 375 degrees. These three took a little less than three hours. After two hours, I took off the foil so that the meat could brown a little. I started checking the temperature at two and a half hours. But it didn't reach the final temp (180 degrees at the deepest part of the thigh) until twenty five minutes later.
We ate a hearty portion of the chicken for supper. Then I deboned all three of the birds and divided the meat into baggies to freeze for later. The deboning does take a while, BUT it is sure nice to have all of the meat ready. I consider it worth the effort.
See the pile of bones? Don't throw those away! There are so many minerals and other nutritive properties in those bones. Making stock is a great way to make use of every nutrient in the chicken!
To use all three carcases at the same time, you will need an extra large stock-pot. But, don't let making stock scare you. It is actually really, really simple. Sorry I don't have photos for this process...
- Place all of the bones, skin and everything in your stock pot.
- Cover with fresh, pure water.
- Optional: add three to five carrots and three to five celery stalks for extra flavor.
- Add three tablespoons of vinegar to help draw the minerals out of the bones.
- Let stand for thirty minutes.
- Bring to a boil and skim off the foam that rises to the surface.
- Cover and let simmer for 12-18 hours.
- Optional: add a bunch of parsley for the last ten minutes. This will impart extra mineral ions to the stock. (This tip, and much of this process, belongs to Sally Fallon.)
- Remove bones and strain stock into large bowls.
- Refrigerate until the fat congeals at the top.
- Skim and discard the fat.
- Divide the stock into pint- and quart-sized portions and freeze for future use.
I use stock when I steam rice, when I make soup, when I make sauces or when I cook beans. It makes a meatless meal even more nourishing! By the way, you know you have used a healthy chicken when the stock congeals like jello... just in case you wondered.