Sunday, January 30, 2011

How To Be Cheap, I Mean...Not Wasteful!

When I spend Steve's hard earned dollar on pasture raised chickens (that actually get to see sunlight in their lifetime and eat grass and get to breathe fresh oxygen) you can bet your lunch money that I am not going to let half of it (the non-meat parts) go to waste! Thanks to the wonderful bottomless pit of information called "Google" I have learned how to use every last piece of chicken to my benefit. Here's how to be cheap...I mean...not be wasteful :)
 First, I put the entire, frozen chicken in the crock pot, put the lid on it, turn it to low heat and leave it for 8-10 hours. I don't add any water, but you could if you wanted to.
 All cooked!! Yay, that was hella easy!
 Next, I separate the chicken, which yes, at first was pretty "gross", but you get used to it. Oh and beware because the chicken will be HOT!!! I spent most of the time separating it yelling OW! HOT! OW! Yeah...I'm smart... Anyway, the bones, cartilage and weird unidentified pieces go back in the crock pot with the juices from the chicken. I'm going to make chicken stock with this (you'll see below).
 Set the skin aside if you want to make cracklins (aka fried chicken skin) and render chicken oil. If you don't want to because you AREN'T weird like me, you can put this back in the crock pot too with the bones.
 The chicken meat can be refrigerated or frozen. I can probably get two meals out of this meat, maybe two meals AND enough to make some chicken salad for sandwiches. I used the breast meat to make Chicken Tortilla Soup tonight for dinner...YUM!
So back to the stock... Next, I fill up the crock pot with whatever random vegetable tidbits we have. Usually when we peel carrots or chop up celery or onions, we save the peels and ends specifically for making broth (in a container in the fridge). Then I add some water and seasonings (a bay leaf and parsley in this picture). I put the cover on the crock pot and let this cook for 8-10 hours (on low). All of the nutrients from the veggies and the bones with seep out into the water!
 Here is the chicken skin chopped into 1 inch pieces cooking over low heat for about an hour, or until they are dark brown and stop bubbling.
 Here they are all finished! They are crunchy and delicious. Let me just say that these are a snack to be enjoyed in moderation, just like potato chips. They are high in fat (some good fats though!), salt, but also protein. Also, in the bottom of the pan you can see oil which leads me to...
Chicken oil! We use this to fry eggs and it's SO delicious. It only looks cloudy like this because it was sitting in the fridge and had cooled.
Ok, so fast forward 8-10 hours...
Here is the chicken stock from above (after we strained out the veggies and bones)! It can be used in tons of recipes, it's also nice to drink a hot mug of it if you are feeling sick as it's chock full of nutrients and broth made from bones is good for your teeth! If you make your own chicken stock and find that it looks like jelly after it's been should congratulate yourself because that means you did a good job (it gets jelly-like because of the gelatin that comes out of the bones and is really good for you, don't worry it will go back to liquid when it's warmed up!)
The best part about buying whole chickens!! Wishbones!!! We used to only get ONE wishbone a year at Thanksgiving and my sister and I would wait all year to see who would get their wish granted, but now I get one wishbone every week or so! Yay!

And that's how to get your money's worth out of whole chicken. Oh, and the chickens we buy don't come with the organs inside, BUT if they did you know I would find a way to use those as well :)


1 comment:

  1. Hey this is super helpful! I usually by the pre-cut breast meat from my chicken guy, cause I was never sure how to best use the other parts. This will save me money, and I also feel like if I'm gonna buy a whole chicken, I can now appreciate it fully and use it all up! :)