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Efficient use of a WHOLE chicken - need ideas!

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  • Efficient use of a WHOLE chicken - need ideas!

    I am really accustomed to purchasing boneless skinless chicken breasts, so I know how to cook them pretty efficiently. But starting in a few weeks, I'm going to be getting regular deliveries of whole chickens through the poulty CSA I just joined (eep!). So, I want to get the most for my money with the chicken and not just cut out the breasts - any ideas for cooking and enjoying whole chickens? I know a lot of people here on MDA seem to use the bones to make broth so I will try that, but I'm really interested in recipes that will use the whole bird, or good ideas for the leftover meat after I roast a whole chicken. I'm just cooking for two (myself and MrJenx).

    Thanks in advance for any ideas!

  • #2
    We eat a whole chicken once a week. The first night I roast it over a bed of onions, sweet potatoes and root veggies. There are four in my family but if there is any meat left over I save it for chicken soup or put it over salads. The next day I make stock out of the carcass and usually have enough for a nice big pot of soup. I usually get at least three meals out of each chicken.
    An easy way to cook the chicken is to stick it in the crock pot. The skin is nasty (which is a shame because nothing is better than crispy chicken skin) but the meat tastes terrific over salads (it's very moist and flavorful).


    • #3
      I just cooked three whole, organic, grass-fed chickens last night. It was my first time cooking whole chicken in months (just started primal last week). For me there are two keys to cooking - breast side down (will be a lot more moist) and uncovered the last hour so the skin gets crispy. Last night was the first time eating chicken skin in years and after getting over the "OMG, I'm eating skin" part, it was delicious. Being crispy and seasoned (salt, pepper, garlic powder, sage, rosemary) helped. Also I coat the chicken in butter, instead of oil before cooking.

      As for utilizing the whole bird, usually eat the breast and legs as whole meat servings, then just pull off with my hands whatever meat remains on the bones. Mix these pieces with some sauteed veggies for a meal later, then boil all the bones in water and strain for broth.

      Of course now I'm trying to figure out what to do with all the broth.
      My Primal Journal - Food, pics, the occasional rant, so...the usual.

      I love cooking. It's sexy science that you stuff in your face. - carlh


      • #4
        Whole chickens are launched via air cannons to test the integrity of windshields in the case of bird strikes for aircraft and trains.


        • #5
          My two favorite ways of cooking a whole chicken though are in a clay pot with some lemons, onions, and vegetables or smoked in the smoker after being brined. In fact, I'd go a step further and say I tend to brine the clay pot chickens as well. It helps keep them moist in the cooking process.


          • #6
            Search Mark's blog for "spatchcock" chicken. It's a great recipe and very easy. Basically a mix of spices rubbed onto an olive-oiled bird and grilled until skin is crispy.


            • #7
              Depending on the size, my family of 2 adults and 2 kids can obliterate a whole roast chicken in one sitting. If its big enough, I can scrape enough scraps off to make lettuce wraps or tacos, or maybe one serving for on top of a BAS.

              Rub it with melted butter, sprinkle liberally with salt, pepper and seasonings and roast uncovered at 375F for about an hour, or as long as it takes for the juices to run clear and the leg to wiggle freely. Even better, when you pull on the leg the bone will slip free of the flesh. Add a little water to the pan if it looks dry during the cooking time. When its done, cover it with foil and a couple of kitchen towels and let it rest at least 20-30 min so the juices are drawn back in. This is the key to a good roasted bird.

              Enjoy all the bits! Dark meat is the best. I feel bad for people raised thinking that boneless skinless breast are what chicken is supposed to taste like
              *My obligatory intro

              There are no cheat days. There are days when you eat primal and days you don't. As soon as you label a day a cheat day, you're on a diet. Don't be on a diet. ~~ Fernaldo

              DAINTY CAN KISS MY PRIMAL BACKSIDE. ~~ Crabcakes


              • #8
                Originally posted by Daemonized View Post
                Whole chickens are launched via air cannons to test the integrity of windshields in the case of bird strikes for aircraft and trains.
                my primal journal:


                • #9
                  I use one of these to cook my chickens

                  Terracotta Chicken Bricks (Chickenbricks) for Sale

                  Chicken in a Brick (with gravy) 101 Things Every Cook Should Cook

                  Soak the brick for half an hour in cold water, then place the chicken in the brick (if you gently ease the skin away from the body over the breast, and smear about a tablespoon of soft butter under the skin it gives a fabulous moist roast and crisp skin), sprinkle with sea salt, put half an onion, half a lemon in the cavity, place lid on brick, put in cold oven and turn oven on at 180 C for 2 hours. The chicken will be cooked to perfection and there will be quite a lot of juice to make a gravy / sauce.

                  If you want a crisper skin (I usually do) take the lid off for the last 20 minutes and drain off the juices into a pan or bowl, then replace chicken in oven.

                  The flesh is wonderfully moist and is great for salads. I also like to fry a chopped onion in fat (chicken fat if any is left over), add chopped roast chicken to that through, add a tablespoon of chopped tarragon and enough thick cream to make a sauce. Heat through and serve - divine!

                  The carcass and any skin can go into a slow cooker with the juice of a lemon, cover with water and cook 12 - 24 hours (after much experimentation, I find the stock gels best after about 12 / 15 hours - longer seems to reduce the set again).


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by MrsJenx View Post
                    I'm just cooking for two (myself and MrJenx).

                    Thanks in advance for any ideas!
                    I'd start with a roast that uses the two drumsticks (the WHOLE drumstick all the way back to the chicken). Then strip off all of the breast meat and skin and use it in a BAS (big-ass-salad) the next night. Then strip the rest of the meat shreads off the carcass and make stock with the bones. Turn the stock into soup with lots of veggies and the rest of the meat shreds.
                    Last edited by magicmerl; 06-10-2012, 02:02 AM.
                    Disclaimer: I eat 'meat and vegetables' ala Primal, although I don't agree with the carb curve. I like Perfect Health Diet and WAPF Lactofermentation a lot.

                    Griff's cholesterol primer
                    5,000 Cal Fat <> 5,000 Cal Carbs
                    Winterbike: What I eat every day is what other people eat to treat themselves.
                    TQP: I find for me that nutrition is much more important than what I do in the gym.
                    bloodorchid is always right


                    • #11
                      We have roast chicken every couple of weeks or so (a nice large one from the butcher), and I reckon to feed 5 of us hot (I rub the chicken with crushed garlic, salt, pepper and either tarragon, thyme or marjoram, then pour a little olive oil over it before whacking it in the oven), then I usually get a delicious salad from the leftover meat, or I make a chicken curry - either thai green or Indian-style - and that usually serves 5 again with lots of added vegetables, and then I can usually get enough stock from the carcass to make 3 large batches of soup. At the moment, my family is rather hooked on a (coconut, but don't tell them!) "cream" of courgette/zucchini and tarragon soup or a spinach/mixed greens soup. I also save any leftover vegetables and turn them into a vegetable soup once or twice a week. This is great for freezing and using for quick meals when time is short and inspiration is low!


                      • #12
                        I'm very boring, I just rinse, pat dry, slather outer carcass in butter and season, stuff cavity with raw onion and lemon quarters and fresh thyme and garlic, bung in an appropriately sized roasting tray and cook at 170oC (electric fan) for 20 mins per 500g plus 20 mins if necessary. You know it's done when the leg can be wiggled loose and the juices run clear. If I can spare bacon that goes over the breasts like a meat bra. To avoid dry meat, cover it in a tinfoil hat, but remove for final 20 mins to get crispy skin. I always let my meat rest for about 20 mins: transfer to warm plate, wrap in tinfoil and drape clean teatowel over the top to insulate. Don't forget to pour the meat juices which are released as the chick relaxes back into the roasting pan. To the roasting pan add a good slosh of wine plus extra stock or water and set over a medim heat. Chuck in a bay leaf and seasoning and give the pan a good scrape with a wooden spoon to get the crispy caramelised bits off the bottom while the liquid is reducing and alcohol is being burned off. Now you have roast chicken with a decent jus. In my house we hack off chunks or neat slices depending on the company.
                        After the meal, I take the cold carcass and strip it of all edible meat. I conserve any crispy skin with the meat but and soggy skin gets binned. Meat and skin are chopped and transfered to an airtight tupperware container and stored in the fridge. This meat is good for lettuce wraps with homemade mayo, salads, soups, snacking, omelettes (although I personally can't bear egg and chicken together).
                        What's left of your chicken is bone, cartilage and connective tissue, and this is used for stock. Tear it all up into manageable chunks and bag it in dated sandwich bags and bung it in the freezer if you won't be making stock straight away. On stock making day, take your carcass(es), preferably some chicken feet heads or necks if you can find them and put them in a crockpot / slow cooker or large saucepan. For a traditional flavour add onion, celery, carrot, bay, garlic, black peppercorns and a splash of apple cider vinegar. I also like asian style; ginger, garlic, galangal, chilli, lemongrass etc. Pour over enough cool, filtered water to cover the bones. Then leave to simmer, 24 hrs in the slow cooker or as long as you can safely do so on the hob. Obviously cooled broth can then be bagged and frozen too. And there's the life of a chicken from store to tummy, every last scrap.
                        Also, you can poach whole chickens instead of roasting them, just cover with cool water and add veg to enhance the flavour as before. Then cover and simmer until cooked, depends on the size of the bird. This produces very moist meat which is easy to shred and nice to eat with a mole, and the cooking water becomes a light broth which can be used to make soups, or you can bung the carcass as described back in and make a super-broth! Discard the skin, it'll be icky.
                        Hope this helps.


                        • #13
                          Thanks to everyone for such good suggestions! I can't wait to give some of them a whirl. I'm especially looking forward to the fact that one chicken roast can lead to leftover meals (meat for BAS, broth for soup, etc.) And I am eager to try spatchcocking one of the chickens, too!