This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.
In winter, I often have a boiled chicken on my kitchen counter waiting to be used, I stock up my freezer with homemade chicken stock and I use the boiled chicken to make some healthy dinners.
How to boil a whole chicken
The most important thing about boiled chicken is the age of the chicken. If you boil a young chicken the cartilage will break and the meat will come apart from the bone. If you want to boil a chicken it is best if the chicken is old and free range of course.
I always buy free-range chicken, the difference in the taste is immense. Free-range means that the chicken has been grown outdoor and not piled in cages with no chance of movement. I can compare with the chickens I eat at my sister, the Vet. The meat is full of flavour, nice and firm even better than the free-range I buy at the supermarket, but that is the best option I have.
A chicken should boil for at least 2 hours at low heat. I usually boil my chicken in the pressure cooker as it takes only 35 minutes. I make stock so often that I couldn’t possibly boil chickens for hours. Plus with the pressure cooker, the stock has much more flavour as the steam is trapped inside.
Why you should make your own chicken stock
Add homemade chicken stock to your recipes instead of a stock cube, you will be surprised on the immense improvement of your final dish. Besides the improved flavour, a homemade stock has a creamy consistency you cannot find in a cube stock.
The bones and the cartilage release collagen-rich molecules making the stock creamy and smooth as gelatine. I make my chicken stock by adding 1 carrot, 1 celery stick, 1 onion, a bouquet garni (herbs wrapped in leeks leave), 1 tbsp of coarse salt and 6 peppercorns.
Usually, I boil a whole chicken as I like to use the meat to make some healthy dinners. However, sometimes I also use only the carcase without meat. When I go visit my son Liam at university I make a small amount of chicken stock just boiling 2 chicken legs.
Once the stock is done I let it cool down, filter the fat, store it in containers and freeze. I always keep at least 4 containers of homemade chicken stock in my freezer ready to use. If you want to know what else I keep in my freezer you can read the article: Once a month freezer meal prep
If you want more details on how to boil a chicken to make the stock you can follow my recipe homemade chicken stock.
Here are some of the recipes where homemade chicken stock is fundamental to achieve the best possible results:
Boiled Chicken Recipes for dinner
Once the freezer is stocked up with chicken broth I have plenty of healthy boiled chicken to use.
But while a light meal made of boiled chicken would be “recommended”, we will still be looking for flavour and taste.
So here are 4 easy ideas to revive a boiled chicken and make everybody happy, liver and arteries (ours, not the chicken) included:
- The healthiest chicken soup
- Chicken with couscous, baked ratatouille and toasted pistachios
- Homemade Indian bread with Caesar salad
- Savory Crepes Spring Roll Style
- The cosy chicken and mushroom pie
Homemade chicken soup can warm up any cold winter evening. As I always have a frozen homemade chicken broth in the freezer, it can be made in a flash. It is the best remedy at the end of a cold and busy day. Especially if you feel the weather has got into your system threatening you with flu or cold.
I simply defrost the broth into a pan and add whatever vegetables I have in the fridge. I usually add:
- Onions or leeks
Making the chicken soup
- Dice all the vegetables into small cubes and toss them into the stock.
- Let them boil for 10 minutes and
- Add Pastina and shredded boiled chicken meat for the last 5 minutes of cooking.
If I make it just for myself, I don’t add the Pastina for a low calories / no carbs dinner. The homemade broth is very filling as it is creamy and full of flavour. The proteins from the chicken will keep the hunger at bay for the night.
A night of good night sleep is assured!
Sometimes I just make Pastina (small pasta) with chicken broth for the boys.
I boil the Pastina directly in the broth and add 1 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil and parmesan.
That is their favourite when they are not feeling well or are tired from a busy day. All they want is something light, comforting and quick to eat so they can go to bed without delay.
Boiled Chicken with couscous and baked ratatouille
If I want to make something quick and tasty, I serve the boiled chicken with couscous and baked ratatouille.
The ratatouille adds moisture and flavour to the chicken, I top the couscous with roasted pistachios to add some crunch.
I always buy pistachios from Bronte, Sicily. It is situated next to the Etna Volcano, the mix of the lava and the sun gives the pistachios a special flavour.
The bake ratatouille recipe is very simple and I always bake a large amount of ratatouille, it is so good and healthy that everyone asks for more.
Baked Ratatouille is so easy to make, creamy and healthier as the vegetables are baked and not fried. I also serve it with back rice for a light vegan dinner.
The vegetables I use are:
- 2 onions
- 3 zucchini
- 3 aubergines
- 2 peppers
- 4 round tomatoes
- Lay all the vegetables in a large baking tin and cook them for 2 hours at 180 C – 350 F
- Add the tomato sauce and cook for another 30 minutes
Isn’t that easy?
To make the couscous
- I make the couscous by seasoning 1 cup of couscous with extra virgin olive oil and adding 1 cup of boiling water and a cube of chicken stock.
- I toast the pistachios in a hot pan over the stove, keeping a close eye as they can burn very quickly.
Put all in a plate and serve!
Homemade Indian bread with Caesar salad made with Homemade Mayonnaise
- Cut the chicken breasts into slices, and season with salt, pepper and olive oil.
- Wash the lettuce, and cut the leaves for the salad
- Cut the chicken into strips and add to the salad
- Mix the mayonnaise, mustard, 1 tsp lemon juice, and salt in a large cup. Add to the salad and mix
- Sprinkle the Parmesan on top
If I don’t have wraps at home I make grilled Indian bread, a perfect substitute and actually a better option. It has no fat, it is nice and warm and it is quickly done!
Making the Indian bread
The ingredients are:
- 1 3/4 cup – 225 gr of flour
- 2/3 cup – 150 ml of lukewarm water
- 1 pinch of salt
- Combine the flour and the water adding the water gradually until the dough reaches a consistency similar to the pasta dough.
- Mix for 8 minutes until the dough is homogenous and elastic.
- Cover with flour and a wet towel and let it rest for 30 minutes.
- Cut the dough into 6 small balls.
- One by one, roll them flat in a floured surface and stretch them by slapping them with your hand back and forth until they reach 18 cm of diameter.
- Heat up a heavy cast iron pan and grill (no fat) the flatbread quickly turning it on the other side before it burns.
- It goes very quickly, so it is best to find someone to help.
Usually, it is Liam who helps me, and while I slap the flatbread he grills them.
Good job Liam!
In my fridge, there is always a cabbage! I don’t know about you, but when I buy a cabbage it lasts forever. As soon as I shred a quarter of cabbage it triples in size so I always have to come up with new ideas on how to use it.
My sister Gilda had the idea to make savory crepes and stuff them with stir-fried cabbage and boiled chicken.
Instead of making a bechamel sauce she just added some soy sauce and put the savory crepes in the oven. The result was surprisingly good. Everybody loved them as they resembled Chinese Spring Rolls cooked in the oven.
The cosy chicken and mushroom pie
Even if this chicken pie will not be as “healthy” as the other dishes, it is a complete meal that will satisfy all palates, children as well as adults. So delicious it can be served at dinner parties.
Compared to the previous meals, its fat content is increased by 125 gr of butter and 1 egg and the bechamel sauce to be shared with 6 people.
It is not so bad…….
…..if compared to the holiday extravaganzas!
It will require more preparation time than the other 3 recipes but is worth the effort.
You have to plan ahead of time as the butter to make the short pastry has to be at room temperature.
For the short pastry you need:
- 1/2 cup – 100 gr of butter
- 1 egg
- 1 1/2 cup – 200 gr of flour
- 2 tbsp of water
- 1 tsp of salt
- Mix all ingredients in the mixer, wrap the dough into cling foil and let it rest in the fridge for at least 30 minutes so the butter re-solidifies.
- Cooking the short pastry from fridge-cold makes it nicely crunchy.
Making the filling
- In the meantime, gently stir-fry 2 leeks that have been washed and diced, adding butter and 1 tbsp of olive oil.
- Once the leeks are cooked, add the mushrooms halved but cook them for 3 minutes only.
- Season with salt and pepper.
- Then add the chicken, the béchamel sauce, ½ lemon zest. Stir till it is all well combined and let it cool.
Putting it all together
- Butter a baking pan, cover the base with parchment paper and butter well the entire surface sides included.
- This will make sure the pie will come out from the pan easily once it is cooked.
- Take the short pastry out of the fridge and keep 1/3 aside to make the top of the pie.
- Roll flat the remaining 2/3 of the pastry.
- The 2 tbsp of water you added to the mix will make the edge of your pastry smooth and it will not crack.
- Cover the pan with the pastry making sure the sides are all covered and pierce it everywhere with a fork.
- If the pastry becomes too soft put it back in the fridge to cool for another 30 minutes.
- Pour the chicken mix in the pastry, cover with the remaining 1/3 of the dough, and seal the edges with your fingers.
- Make several holes in the centre so that the steam can escape, if you have some pastry leftover you can make some additional decorative shapes on top.
- Cook in a hot oven at 355 F – 180 C for 30 minutes.
I hope you find some inspiration in any of those recipes. If you decide to make one, you can find more details on their page:
If you are making any of these recipes to revive a boiled chicken, leave your comment below I would like to hear from you. You can find more delicious ideas if you FOLLOW ME on Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest and Instagram or sign up to my newsletter.