Did you know the UK throws away 86 million chickens every year? To kick off 2018, Love Food Hate Waste are running a new campaign to encourage people to #GiveACluck about poultry waste by storing chicken correctly and using up leftover chicken.
I’ve teamed up with Love Food Hate Waste to support the #GiveACluck campaign by sharing my top tips for storing chicken in the fridge and freezer, defrosting chicken and making the most of leftover chicken.
How to freeze chicken safely
- You can freeze chicken right up until its use-by date, so if you’re like me and you plan your meals ahead but then end up eating out instead, your chicken doesn’t have to go to waste – just keep an eye on those use-by dates and make sure you freeze your chicken if you’re not going to get round to using it in time.
- Regardless of whether its cooked or raw, chicken can be frozen for up to a year, so if you were to freeze leftovers from your favourite meal in February, you could enjoy it in December, just as fresh! I’m a big fan of batch cooking, and I love to cook a big chicken casserole and then freeze a few containers, so I’ve got a tasty, nutritional meal to eat even if I don’t feel like cooking. Just make sure you defrost your chicken safely, and heat it until its piping hot before eating it.
- NEVER refreeze raw chicken after it’s been frozen and defrosted – always make sure you cook it before putting it back into the freezer!
How to defrost chicken safely
- Many people get confused about how to defrost chicken safely, but it’s actually pretty straightforward. Just take it out of the freezer 24 hours before you want to use it and let it defrost on a plate or bowl overnight in the fridge, in its original packaging or in an air-tight container.
- Plan your meals in advance so you always know what you’ll be eating the following day and you can defrost the chicken the night before, so it’s ready to cook for dinner.
- Buy a big pack of chicken thighs or fillets and freeze it in portions using freezer bags, so you can defrost however much you need, whenever you want to cook it. To keep track of how old the chicken is, use a permanent marker to label it with the date it went into the freezer, and rotate it so that the chicken that needs to be eaten first is always at the front or on top.
How to use up leftover chicken
- There are lots of great ways to use up your chicken leftovers. I love to make a sandwich on fresh, crusty bread with a dollop of mayo for lunch the next day, or add it to a curry, risotto, pie, salad or stir-fry for dinner. If I’m feeling particularly adventurous in the kitchen, I’ll make a pizza from scratch and top it with chicken, mozzarella, basil and tomato – I call it my chicken caprese pizza!
- To ensure you’re using up all of the leftover chicken from your Sunday roast dinner, boil up the carcass and skin with some veg and herbs to make a hearty chicken stock that can be frozen in ice cube trays for use in soups, sauces and stews at a later date.