Tuesday, January 11, 2011

A whole chicken is a terrible thing to waste!

As promised, I'm going to show you the benefits of cooking a whole chicken. I used to buy chicken breast's exclusively, because I'm a breast girl...I realize how weird that sounds, but most people prefer the breast meat of a chicken. It's not hard to see why. It's all white, boneless and perfect and it doesn't remind you that it came from an animal. But you know, I began to feel bad for the poor girls, after all I wouldn't want to be loved for my breasts either. Really though, I saw how much you get from cooking the entire bird. Not only does it feed your entire family for one night, but you can use the left-over meat to roll-over into another meal. And I don't know if you've noticed, but buying a whole chicken is way cheaper than buying just the breasts. Sure there are bones and weird innards kept in a bag in the cavity of the chicken, but even those things are useful! And I'm going to show you how!

Here's how to take a chicken carcass and make it into two more meals:

Step one: Here you have a picked apart chicken carcass. Everyone has had their fill and deep down inside you just want to throw it in the trash and be down with it, but Frugal person inside says, "NO!" there's more to be done with this little bird!

Step two: Roll you sleeves up and pick the meat off the bones. It's a dirty job, but I like to sit at the table and pick the meat, while my husband cleans off the table (I like to watch him work.) Put the left over meat it the fridge and use it again in soup or burritos or any recipe you have that calls for chopped up chicken...the possibilities are endless!

Step three: Take the bones, the stuff inside the little bag that was in the birds butt (I like to pre-game and have contents of the bag boiling on the stove while I cook the chicken in the first place) and put this into a saucepan and then fill with water. To this concoction add a splash of vinegar. I use whatever kind of vinegar I want or have on hand, but my favorite is apple cider or balsamic. The reason you use vinegar is to help the stock gel. 

Step four: Let the stock simmer on low for several hours. I like to start this process right after dinner and let it simmer until I go to bed- so about five or six hours. You want it to cook for a long time to get that perfect stock. If you don't have time to do it the night you cook it, just put the whole thing in the fridge and simmer it when you do have the free time.

Step five: The smell in the house during this process is so yummy, but you're full from dinner, so you're kinda pissed that it smells like chicken...okay that's just me because I'm pregnant, but usually I really like the smell. When the stock is finished, you need to drain the liquid from the bones and yuckiness. I like to store it in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and put it in the fridge over-night. This is important, because as the stock cools the fat will separate to the top and you'll want to skim it off.

I thought I'd be nice and give Noel the extra bits of chicken meat that fell off the bones, she's so cute after all. Big mistake, the entire next day the worst smells you can possibly think of came from that dog's rear. To save yourself from dog farts, either put the chicken that falls off the bone into the container of left-over chicken or throw it away. 

Step six: The next day your stock will have cooled into a nice quivering, gelatinous mass, but there will be a layer of fat on the top. Take this time to scrape the fat off the top of the stock.

Now you have beautiful chicken stock ready for soup or any recipe Rachel Ray had ever come up with. That girl loves her chicken stock as much as her EVOO and cutesy names for recipes! Seriously things like Sloppy Dudes, Un-beet-lievable Pasta and Leeky Chicken and Couscous, which coincidentally calls for 1 1/2 cups of chicken stock.

Step seven:  Do yourself a favor, if you don't use the stock right away, freeze it. Be sure to measure out how much you have so you know when you pull it out of the freezer weeks down the road.

Put the stock into a freezer bag and mark the amount on the bag. You'll thank yourself for that one, believe me!

So there you have it! Two ways to get a little extra from a chicken and a reminder that like us, she's so much more than her breasts!


  1. oh, Ang, you crack me up... this is very useful and so very entertining at the same time.

  2. Yeah, I agree - you crack me up too. As for the usefulness.... well, not so much - cause in all my 11+ years of marriage, I have never cooked a whole chicken. And I never intend to. Maybe I feel some bitterness to anyone with plump breasts and have no problem with selectively butchering that particularly area..... Or maybe I just really can't get over the bone issue.... But whatever the reason - kudos to you for all your work, but this is one lesson I'll let pass. :o)

  3. Bets- that's too funny you plump breast butcherer! And I thought of you the whole time I did this thinking "Bets would be so grossed out!!"

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