Sunday, February 20, 2011

How To Eat Groceries - More Meat : Take Two Whole Chickens...

The prices for whole chicken in the article below date it more, but the information otherwise fits right in with our "How To Eat Groceries" article, so I thought I'd add it in here. 

Kitchen Basics:

Two Whole Chickens

This week our local food store featured whole chickens for $.69 a
pound. This was a wonderful buy, and I planned to purchase two.
Then I planned my menus. How many meals for four can you squeeze
out of two whole chickens? Two? Three? Would you believe you can
stretch two chickens into five meals? Or six? Well you can!

Now my chickens weighed about 4 pounds each. When I got them home,
I divided them into meal sized packets. Cutting up a chicken is not
that difficult, but if you don't know how you can learn by visiting
this website:
or by asking someone who knows how to teach you. If you don't have
access to the internet(most libraries offer internet time for free),
or know anyone who knows how to do this, you may purchase a country
style cut  up chicken. Generally the price of these runs only
$.10/pound more than whole chickens.

Once the chickens were cut up, I halved two of the breast halves as
well. I now had :
6 pieces of breast (two breasts cut in half each)
2 whole pieces of breast
4 legs
4 thighs
4 wings
2 wishbones
2 backs
giblets from both chickens***

This is the way I divide the chicken up for meals: The four breast
quarters become meal number one: Baked or oven fried served with
side dishes. The third breast half becomes: Chicken lo mein(stir
fried breast meat and veggies and cooked spaghetti). My fourth
breast half is used to make stir fried rice. I have an old cookbook
that offers up the legs, wings, and backs of two chickens in a
special breadcrumb seasoning, called Deviled Chicken. You can make
a version of this great dish by coating your chicken pieces with
French dressing and sprinkling breadcrumbs over the top of the
pieces and baking. The four thighs may be boned and stuffed, or if
that seems to difficult, consider boiling them and making chicken
salad. The two pulley bones should be boiled at the same time, but
save the meat for Spaghetti Diable (Chicken Spaghetti). I've printed this recipe
before. It consists of a simple sauce(canned tomatoes, sliced
mushrooms, a little onion and garlic mixed with chunks of chicken
and cooked spaghetti, topped with cheese and baked).

You could save the backs and necks for making soup and just
devil the wings and legs.

Of course these are just a few ideas of how to use the chicken
pieces. Chicken is so versatile that you can serve it in many ways
that all lend themselves to using only a cup or two of cooked
chicken: Chicken a la King, Creamed Chicken, Chicken Tetrazzini,
Chicken Pot Pie, Chicken and Rice or Noodle Soup, etc.

Other possibilities: When you remove the wings, cut away the tips
and save with the necks in the freezer. Most recipes for Buffalo
wings call for 4 wing pieces per serving, so the wings of four
chickens would make a meal. Or fry the legs and wings and carry on
a picnic. These pieces are especially handy for finger foods. I
also like to BBQ these pieces. The sauce in the bottom of the pan
is wonderful on top of rice.

Remember too that boiling or baking a whole chicken is not limiting
the meal stretching possibilities. Slice the breast meat and serve
for one meal. Chop the remaining meat and divide it to use in any
two recipes calling for diced cooked chicken (look for turkey recipes
that call for the same. Most poultry is interchangeable!). Use the
bones to make broth and do pick them over again. You'll be
surprised how much meat remains behind. Boiling the bones for broth
will soften and loosen it. You may well find you have enough to
make a delicious pot of soup. If you can't use the broth right
away, freeze it. It's a bonus!

If you want to stretch your budget, consider buying two whole
chickens and making them work for more than one meal.

***NOTE: I keep an empty cottage cheese container handy . Herein I
deposit the livers and gizzards and freeze them until I have enough
for a meal. My son and I consider these a real treat when they are
battered and deep fried. Or you might consider keeping only the
livers. When poached lightly, then ground and mixed with a little
chopped onion, lemon juice and mayonnaise they make a wonderful
sandwich (I add a lettuce leaf to mine) or cracker spread. Another
good meal idea is to saute with a little onion and mushrooms and
make a light cream gravy over them. This is delicious (and elegant)
served over rice! You'll want to save about a pound of livers
though, so this meal would be a bonus meal only after you've
purchased several chickens. As well, deposit those necks into a
container. You can use these to make wonderful broth with later

No comments: