Chickens are delicious
They are juicy, lean, and bland enough that you can put them with almost any flavor combination you can imagine. And chickens are not cute, cuddly, or nice. They’re kinda mean from what I hear. It’s difficult to not want to eat them.
Do not shy away from the whole chicken.
I know, it looks like an actual animal. I’m an omnivore. My teeth were designed for all kinds of eating. If you do not choose to embrace this for moral or religious reasons, I applaud you. I’m not that morally advanced, and here’s why I buy the whole bird:
Cost effective –
Chicken breasts can run from $3.29 bone in – $10.70 prepared and packaged per lb. Better prices include $1.80 per piece. I bought a whole chicken from Whole Foods for $7.34, not on sale. That’s $1.22 per piece, not including the wings. This also doesn’t include the tenders, which I separate and freeze until I have enough to do something with. When comparing prices, there’s only a savings of $0.25 – 0.50 a lb, but you get so much more for your money…
Exposure to parts you wouldn’t normally encounter –
Chicken liver – makes a great mousse. Liver of any sort is full of iron, which most women and some men don’t get enough of in their diets.
Gizzards – Some people fry these. I don’t, but you could. My grandfather used to love them.
Oysters – the little nib on the back at the top of the thigh which is full of perfect fatty deliciousness. Royalty used to eat platters of this alone, from what I understand. I don’t think I have ever seen it on commercially cut chicken thighs. I harvest it myself.
Bones – White stock is good for many things. Many recipes call for chicken broth. Chicken stock can be substituted for most of these things and is often preferrable because it has no sodium. The recipe can be found here – White Stock You can freeze it an keep it for months, just cutting off as much stock as you need while it’s still frozen. It’s a perfect bundle of gelatin, protein, and flavor.
If you are watching your weight, and only eating the breasts, I understand, but consider that a skinless chicken thigh is only 5 grams of fat. Yes, it’s 45% fat, that’s true, but if you pair it with low-fat ingredients and cooking methods, 5 grams is not that much for flavorful dark meat. Ditto the legs, though they are about 52% fat.
How to break down a chicken
Alton Brown, my favorite T.V. chef by far, demonstrates it beautifully on his show.
The demonstration starts at 3:30
After a couple of times, you will have it down. I freeze the bones until I have enough or the time to make stock. I make stock once a month on Sundays.