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can i freeze a whole, roasted chicken? (also, any make-ahead meat-based dishes that freeze well?)

hi hounds,

hubby and i are expecting kid #1 in early december. we bought an upright freezer recently and have been slowly stocking it with soup, stock, chili, lasagna, tomato sauce, ziti, quiche, muffins, loaves, casseroles, etc. i've found some great threads on CH on what kinds of things new parents can make and freeze ahead of the newborn chaos!

however, now i'm wondering about roasting and freezing whole chickens. would that work? ideally, we could roast off four chickens in a weekend, throw them in the freezer and then have quite a few dinners with a quick frozen veg/salad and rice (or something).

also, other than meatballs and hamburger patties, are there any other meats that we can make ahead and freeze?

THANKS!

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  1. sorry, but no. the bones make the meat, erm. . . gnarly, and there is a bitter off-flavor thing that happens.

    however, you can still roast off those chickens, pick the meat off the bones, and freeze the boneless roasted meat-- and you can make all the bones and skin into homemade stock, and then freeze that separately from the meat. then you will have great components for meals to put together.

    2 Replies
    1. re: soupkitten

      ouf! i'm glad i asked! i didn't know about the bones and bitterness!

      i'm not sure if roasting a whole chicken would work then ... i know what i'd do with all the breast meat but not so sure about the thighs/legs. what would you do with the shredded dark meat?

      maybe someone will post about meat dishes that freeze well.

      1. re: lilaki

        we prefer dark meat. if you don't, what is the point of cooking whole birds? you can roast breasts, pull the meat and freeze that, but it will be "dry". better to make casseroles, soups or stews out of it.

        eta: and boneless breasts cook almost instantly. why cook and freeze?

    2. Chicken Pot pie, Chicken Tikka Masala, Stew, Italian Sausage with Onions and Peppers, Cooked Bacon comes in handy for lots of dishes. Chicken Parmesan, Cabbage Rolls. Breaded Chicken, Pork, Veal etc., Pulled Pork The list is endless.

      3 Replies
      1. re: 02putt

        hi 02putt,

        thanks for the list... i never thought of chicken parm or breaded chicken. i'm assuming this is fully cooked and then frozen?

        1. re: lilaki

          Yes, but I leave the cheese off until I am ready to reheat it otherwise it tends to dry out and you have to add more. I was thinking of some more things I could suggest. We don't eat deli meat for various reasons. Sodium, nitrates, and quite frankly we think they are slimy and don't taste like real meat rather enhanced with flavoring. Anyway, any leftovers (steak, chicken, pork, ham) I slice really thin and measure them in 90 gram ziplocks and use them during the week for sandwiches in lunches. Just take a bag out the night before and put it in the fridge. It will be defrosted by morning. Everyone, hubby, kids picks out their own. I use mayo and put some Italian dressing in a small side container. The kids swear it is just like sub sauce. I put it in a container because the kids say this way the sandwich doesn't get soggy. I even buy the low sodium ham quarters specifically for this purpose. I usually chop some up for pizza toppings as well.

          1. re: 02putt

            i haven't eaten lunch meats/processed meats in years ... i LOVE your idea of sliced leftover meats for sandwiches though. tks!

      2. In my experience, meat does better when frozen raw vs. cooked, unless it is in something, like a casserole. Really, though, the work that would go into thawing and reheating a chicken is not much less than just slapping some seasoning onto a fresh one and roasting it up. If you're looking to have both people back at work quickly, so that you won't have much time afterward to get something on the table, that's a different story. But if you're just looking for something that doesn't require much kitchen time a roast chicken is ideal. All you're doing is moving your five minute prep back an hour or so, then you're free to hang out with the baby while it's in the oven. Maybe freezing some sides or planning really quick on the spot sides would be in order-frozen peas, couscous, sliced tomatoes or bell peppers or cukes. Rice, if you have a rice maker, or I've had pretty good success freezing that ahead. I like canned beets with a little extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, kosher salt, and black pepper, but it's been pointed out to me that this is not normal.

        1. I'd boil the chicken instead of roasting and make a nice meaty chicken soup or stew and freeze in serving portions.

          1. thanks for all of your input. maybe making and then freezing meat isn't such a great idea. however, i am inspired to make some chicken/beef pot pies!

            2 Replies
            1. re: lilaki

              lilaki, I sometimes freeze shredded cooked chicken like soupkitten suggested. I would recommend doing this for maybe 1 chicken's worth of meat - then you can have it on hand to add to soup (like a nice chicken noodle - I use it for my matzah ball soup) or added into sauces. I find the frozen chicken "comes back to life" better when it's added to a liquid-based dish like a soup or sauce.

              1. re: quedelish

                great, thanks for the tip! maybe i'll roast and shred some chicken after all!