Roasting whole chickens can be a challenge—one part or another always seems to be over- or underdone. So when we want to prepare chicken ahead for use in later meals, we often favor bone-in chicken parts. Just season generously, arrange on a heavyweight sheet pan and roast until browned. Choose white or dark meat parts, or mix the two, pulling any white meat pieces out of the oven ahead of dark meat to avoid overcooking.
Roast at 450°F for 30 to 40 minutes, aiming for 160°F for white meat and 175°F for dark. About 4 pounds of parts will fit on a 12- by 18-inch rimmed baking sheet; if you need more, split between two pans on separate racks, rotating midway through. Overcrowding prevents even cooking and flavorful browning.
Keeping the chicken’s seasonings simple allows the meat to be easily used numerous ways during the week. For 4 pounds chicken, I used 4 teaspoons kosher salt (1 teaspoon per pound), 1 teaspoon ground black pepper and ½ teaspoon each white sugar, sweet paprika and smoked paprika. Coat all sides of the meat well, really massaging the mixture into the nooks and crannies to ensure thorough coverage.
Once cooked, I pull the meat from the bones as soon as the meat is cool enough to handle and refrigerate in an airtight container, dressed with a little extra-virgin olive oil to help keep the meat moist.
Don't Toss the Scraps
I turn the scraps of meat, skin and bones left behind into quick stock. Simmer with coarsely chopped onion, carrot, garlic, 2 bay leaves and any herb sprigs with just enough water to cover for one to two hours, then strain and discard the solids. Unless you have an immediate use for the stock, freeze it in portion-sized zip-close bags for soups, stews and braises. Don’t bother skimming the fat—it’ll freeze on the top of the broth, where it can be scraped off and used to sauté aromatics.
To use the Meat
Chicken and Rice Soup with Napa Cabbage
This is a simple soup that relies on any one of these umami boosters: black bean-garlic sauce, Sichuan chili-bean sauce (toban djan), red or white miso or gochujang. In a Dutch oven, combine 8 cups of chicken broth with three ¼-ounce packets of powdered gelatin (this is optional, though improves texture). Let stand for a few minutes, then add 1 to 2 tablespoons savory flavoring (one of the sauce above), 2 cups chopped napa cabbage and 1 cup medium- or long-grain rice. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the cabbage and rice are tender, about 15 minutes. Stir in 3 cups shredded cooked chicken, adjusting to taste with additional savory ingredients. If you like, add halved hard-cooked eggs as a garnish.
Chicken Salad with Apple, Celery Root and Fennel
This hearty salad is a riff on French remoulade. If you have a mandolin, use it to make quick work of julienning the celery root, apple and fennel. In a large bowl, stir together ½ cup mayonnaise with ¼ cup whole-grain or Dijon mustard, ¼ cup drained capers or chopped cornichons, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, and kosher salt and black pepper, to taste. Add 2 to 3 cups shredded cooked chicken with 1 small celery root (peeled and julienned), 1 large tart apple (julienned), 1 small fennel bulb (julienned), and a handful of chopped parsley or arugula. Stir well, season to taste, and finish with a handful of chopped walnuts or hazelnuts.
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