Before I explain the technique, let me first hope that you find a good source for chicken. You want to avoid chickens that are raised without antibiotics and if possible you should buy organic. I have run into
I avoid buying meat at retailers known for being cheap unless the packaging clearly states organic or some other clear language indicating the quality of the meat. I assume the worst for meat in packaging that doesn’t state much about the quality. I look for buzzwords like ‘free-range’, ‘organic’, ‘humane’ etc.
A whole chicken weighing about 6 pounds will cost roughly $10. The first part of the previous statement is the first clue. I buy whole chickens to save me money as I do not have to pay someone to cut it for me. Also, a chicken comes with diverse meat selections. Let me be honest in stating that I do not like to cut a whole chicken in pieces. But, I do it, get over with it and have a few dinners out of it.
Step 1 – Get your fresh meat
Buy a fresh (non-frozen) whole chicken if possible. You could buy a frozen chicken but you need to thaw it in the fridge first. Since you will be re-freezing parts of the whole chicken you buy
As a warning, don’t buy a whole chicken that is already split in two. For one, it will likely cost a little more, but parts might be missing. You want an entire whole chicken that is
Step 2 – Prep your surroundings
This step is recommended whether or not you buy your chicken whole. But, since raw chicken can be contaminated with bacteria, it is wise to remove any clean dishes, utensils or food from your work area. You don’t want chicken pieces or juices to splash on them and possibly contaminate them. You should do this before handling meat and especially poultry.
Step 2 – Get the right knife
As soon as you get home from the grocery store it is time to get out a butcher knife. This knife is perfect for cutting through raw meat.
Step 3 – Cut the chicken in half
Cut the chicken in half by ripping through the cartilage on the top as this arrow indicates. Flip the chicken around and do the same, except that you will be cutting through some of the backbones. The bones are small and easy to cut through.
Step 5 – Cut the chicken in pieces
Cut The chicken by all the identifiable pieces. The legs, thighs, 2 wings and breasts should all be cut off the chicken. My cuts are not supermarket quality, but I dont care. The chicken is for my family’s consumption so I dont need to get a perfect thigh.
Step 6 – Sep
arate the chicken meat
Separate the dark meat (wings, legs, and thighs), the bony pieces and the breast. The breasts are big so they have further been cut into pieces. The back is also cut in smaller pieces. You can keep the wings as whole wings, as I have them here, or cut those into some more to be more traditional wings.
Step 7 – Plan to use them
Now let’s talk about what to do with them. How many meals you get out of them clearly depends on how many members are in your family and how much they eat. Here are some ideas to consider.
Using the dark meat: The dark meat batch should contain 6 pieces of chicken, 2 legs, 2 thighs,
You can stew the meat by throwing it in a baking pan with half an onion, a few cloves of garlic, salt, pepper, and bar-b-que sauce. Bake on 350 F for 1 hour. My best results with baked, stewed recipes come from this pan, probably because of its ability to hold in the heat well.
The white meat: I dont cook white meat often in my house, but there are tons of recipes online, like this chicken curry recipe. Pan-roasted seems to be the quickest and easiest and done right, it makes for a juicy dinner. The white meat batch (chicken breast) as shown in the photo is also cut in about 6 pieces, which is small enough to cook quickly on the stove-top.
The Backbone: The backbone is probably the one you are eying with the most suspicion. The best chicken soup is one made with bones. The back meat here also isn’t void of meat. There is plenty of meat all around the bones to go into the soup.
Throw the backbones, some onion, crushed butternut squash, water, salt, pepper, thyme, oregano and other additions of your choice and get the flavor from these bony sections. An instant pot (do you know they come in colors like this red one) will extract more flavor from them.
Step 8 – Store them
Store them per your needs. Wrap in wax paper, write the date and
Step 9: Brainstorm dinner ideas
Now you have several batches of chicken that you can use for multiple dinners. You can decide how you want to use these for dinner. You can bake chicken breast and add with some brown rice and green beans for a pretty cheap dinner price. You can try curried chicken for the dark meat chicken. Perhaps you know of other ways to use the backbone besides soup, but if not soup is an ideal scenario.
Step 10: Clean Up
Thoroughly wash your sink with soap and water, and wipe down the
If you have never handled a whole chicken before this might seem daunting or even gross. Just like all fear having some experience will help to make it better. As I mentioned before I am not a fan of cutting chicken, but buying a whole chicken is so cost-effective and diverse.
The recommendation from the CDC is that you should not wash chicken. The concern is the washing chicken can spread the juices to utensils and countertop which increases the risk of ingesting salmonella.
While I was growing up washing chicken is all we did. In
But, I like to take advice intended to keep my family safe. So I came up with a
This process removes that weird after taste I don’t like, adds a hint of lemon to the chicken all without causing splashes.
When you are done, clean surrounding areas with soap and water and wipe down with vinegar.