Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Making the Most of a Whole Chicken

I bought a whole organic chicken a few weeks ago and had big plans to post about how to use it efficiently and waste nothing.  This would have been a great post IMHO if I hadn't totally (but accidently)  wasted a bunch of the chicken!  Here's the story:

First I cut up the whole chicken.  I was pleasantly surprised at how much meat there was on it.  I had heard that organic chickens were smaller and in my head that translated to skinnier.  But there was plenty of meat on these bones.  In fact, it was so big I couldn't even fit one of the breasts in my pan and I cut the second breast into smaller pieces to make it fit.  Here's the chicken in the oven.

You can almost always make a nice broth or stock if you boil bones and bits.  So I put the neck, the  bone from cutting up the breast, and other bits into a pot.  I also had every intention of putting the bones from my family's dinner plates in there.

That second breast I cut into strips to bake.  I had just heard a great MOPS speaker who shared about clean foods and giving your kids a protein, vegetable, and fruit and/or carb for their packed lunches.  I thought some homemade chicken fingers might work for my kids since they used to like chicken nuggets.  Those are long gone due to the GF eating.

Well, I popped those chicken breasts into the still warm oven and set a timer.  I was rushing out of the house when I saw the timer was at 4 minutes and made a mental note to call my husband on my drive and remind him to pull the chicken out.  My mental note failed and the dinging timer failed to notify DH. Two hours later I was proudly telling some girlfriends about my chicken achievement when I gasped and realized a whole, beautiful, expensive breast was probably still in the oven.  One friend said, "It'll be chicken jerky."  The other friend said, "I hope not.  Organic chicken is like gold."  I couldn't agree with both more. 
chicken jerky
While I was very sad about the wasted breast I thought I'd still try and make the most of the rest of the chicken.  DH had helpfully had the kids clear their places, but again he didn't know I'd wanted to save the bones so I had less to flavor the stock.  There was also a lot of leftover chicken so I waited another two days to make stock so I could add the bones from leftovers.  I ending up packing lunches with just meat cut off  the bones and the kids ate it much more easily that way.  I didn't realize I'd been raising a pack of snobs who won't eat meat off a bone.  Time to break that habit!

Eventually, I cooked the bones in a pot with water just covering them.  I let it simmer overnight and in the morning I had some nice, flavorful juices.  Here's the 4 cup container it filled. 

I decided to try and make more broth with the boiled bones.  I left the meat bits and broke open the bones when I put it all in a baking pan.  Again, I filled the pan with water and broiled it on high for about 25 minutes. 

View inside the oven.

I was attempting this second broth on a busy morning and turned off the oven when I thought the liquid looked (and smelled) good.  Then I promptly forgot about it in the oven until the next day!  Darn!  I had to thow it all away. 

So my 'using the whole chicken' post is kind of a failure, but I will try again and hopefully won't have so many chicken calamities!  I went ahead and told my pathetic story so you all would know I am so very human and make all sorts of kitchen mistakes as I go. 

Next time I'll also show you how to cut up a chicken.  I had to remind myself how to do it with this bird as it had been so long since I'd used a whole chicken this way.

Until next time,


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