Working Mom Meal Hacks: Game-Changing Chicken

 

 

pressure cooker chicken

The easiest thing in my arsenal is a roast chicken. I make it at least 2 times a month at our house.  A 5-6 pound bird is best in my experience for a family meal with some leftovers.  If you don’t care for leftovers, a smaller bird will work!   Leftovers of a basic roast can be used over pasta, salad, or in soup.  Your chicken also makes a beautiful stock.  This is why I say it can change your life.  You can get 2-4 meals (the roast, leftover chicken for one meal addition, soup, and soup leftovers) out of this ONE 5-6 lb chicken, guys.  And even my leftovers-hating family thinks it is great.  You can, essentially, “hide” your leftovers in other meals.

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This is the chicken leftover after we had enough for the whole family for dinner.

There are two ways to make this chicken that I recommend.  The first is in the oven in a dutch oven (a roasting pan will do, though).  The second is in a pressure cooker.  Your chicken will come out beautifully either way but you won’t get the crusty skin in the pressure cooker.  However, if you want the easiest stock on earth, go for the pressure cooker.  And if you want to make it from frozen, pressure cooker is the way to go!  Today, I will be showing the pressure cooker version of this recipe.  A recipe for conventional cooking will follow!  I used a frozen chicken this time so I went with the pressure cooker.  As I said in my post about appliances to elevate your meal prep, pressure cookers are more than a passing fad!

So, to get started, grab a good co-pilot (mine is shown hear helping me make bread while I got everything together for this).

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Prep your chicken 2 hours ahead or however long you need to thaw it or partially thaw it.  To do this, even your frozen bird needs to be thawed enough to pull out giblets and access the skin.

pressure cooker chicken prep

First, mix your seasonings.  To do so, you will need:

  • 3 tablespoons kosher salt (Trust me, you need to salt your meat)
  • 3 Tablespoons paprika
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 2 tablespoons butter (more if you want to baste it)
  • 1 teaspoon Italian Seasoning
  • A dash of pepper
  • ½ teaspoon of chilli powder or Cayenne

 

Find or make 2 cups of broth.  You need the broth (or liquid) to make your cooker come to pressure.  You can’t cook without that liquid.  Pull 2 tablespoons of butter, also set aside until you are ready to use.  Next, dump your broth into the pressure cooker and either add a cooking grate to elevate your chicken above the broth or create one by rolling up some foil.  I used to have a grate with this thing but it got lost in the move so now I just do it this way.

Finally, dry your bird with a paper towel until the skin is very dry.  This will just make it easier to work with.  If you will be using the oven method, this is absolutely key for crispy skin.

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Cut four small holes in the skin (only the skin) of your chicken) – 2 on the breast side and 2 on the rib side.  Insert ½ a tablespoon of butter in each of the slots.  Mix your seasonings and spread them over the bird so that the beautiful bird is now a rusty color.

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The size bird you use depends on your individual pressure cooker.  I find that a 5.5 lb bird will fit in my cooker but only you can decide- obey the max fill line!  Most of my birds are 5 or 5.5 lbs.  The one you see here is almost 6 and was the biggest bird I’ve ever cooked this way.  But it fit..  Add a grate or foil ring to the bottom of your cooker to elevate your bird.  Add your bird.

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Set the pressure cooker to high pressure.  To determine the cook time, follow this:

6 minutes per lb for a fresh chicken (so 30 minutes for a 5 lb bird)

8 minutes per lb for a frozen chicken (so 40 minutes for a 5 lb bird)

 

You want to do a natural release on these, preferably because it will yield the most tender chicken.  Again, check your temp with a meat thermometer always.  It should be 185 for safety reasons.  If it’s not done, add 3 minutes at a time to it.  It will re-pressurize within a few minutes unlike when you first started it.

So, yes, you can cook a chicken FROM FROZEN in about an hour in your pressure cooker and only about 45 minutes for a fresh bird.  This is half the time of the high heat oven method!

Now, carve your chicken.

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Here is the oven method:

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees.  Grease a dutch oven or roasting pan with olive oil.

Set the bird on a small roasting grate or create a ring out of foil (my cheap and preferred method). You want to elevate your bird out of the drippings, ultimately.  The dutch oven can allow you to make stock in it directly and will not dirty a separate pan, which is why I prefer it!

When ready and your bird is ready, roast for 15 minutes on high heat.  After 15 minutes, drop your temperature to 350.  Cook for 15 minutes per pound.  So, for a 5 lb bird, this will be 1 hour and 15 minutes, approximately.  If basting your bird, run a couple tablespoons over the bird at the midway point and then again 15 minutes before you pull it.  This gives the crispiest skin to the bird.  Check your bird after the prescribed cook time to ensure it is 185 degrees between the thigh and breast.  This is essential to keep you safe from salmonella poisoning!  Do not let it get beyond this or it will dry out your bird!

Carve your chicken!

 

Either way you cook these, you will want to make stock.  Stock will either freeze like a champ or make a BEAUTIFUL soup that same week.  I recommend you build a soup into your meal prep a couple of days after your roast.  In my experience, fresh stock will keep about 5 days in your fridge or 6 months in your freezer.  I can always find a use for stock.

To make stock, you need only a few ingredients besides your carcass (and drippings!):

  • 4 sticks of celery
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 7 cups of water (If you are going straight from the pressure cooker method to this, you will only need 5)

And if using a stock pot or dutch oven or if you aren’t using the drippings from your chicken in your stock pot, 3 teaspoons of Better Than Bullion.

For the stock pot/dutch oven method, heat to a boil and then reduce to a simmer for at least 3 hours.

For the Instant Pot method, heat on high pressure for 45 minutes, do a natural release.

Regardless, this makes enough or more than enough stock for a crock pot load of soup and usually I still have a cup left over to make my chicken taco recipe in the crock pot or instant pot.

To freeze or cool, cool in fridge when not hot (never put warm things in your fridge or freezer due to food safety concerns) and when fully chilled, skim off fat and set aside.  You can use this to cook many things and it keeps about 5 days.

Mine is going in the fridge tonight only to resurface tomorrow as soup along with all of that chicken I pulled.  So, look for a loaded potato soup recipe soon!

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