When I was married in 1952, my mother showed me two housekeeping techniques that she considered invaluable – how to iron a man’s dress shirt and how to cut up a chicken. Both tutorials served me well since two of my four children were boys so I spent a lot of time ironing shirts, and for over 50 years, I never considered buying anything but a whole chicken that I could cut up the way I liked and save money, too.
My husband (who was the only one in the family who would eat almost any part of the chicken) passed away six years ago, everybody else was concerned about the fat in dark meat, and even the dog was on a chicken breast diet after a pancreatitis attack. At that point, I started buying skinless chicken breasts, either fresh from the market or in big freezer packs from Sam’s. They were handy to use with no waste and I was completely converted.
Then, one day I saw a blog about cooking a whole chicken in a slow cooker. I’m not a big fan of slow cookers, so I cooked mine on the stovetop in a big Dutch oven. I realized even after removing the skin after cooking, there was still more fat than in the skinless variety, but the taste and texture of the chicken was so wonderful that I felt it was worth it. Here’s how I do a whole chicken:
My market handles a good quality fresh Amish roaster which I buy in a 4-pound size for about $7. I wash the chicken and put it in a big Dutch oven, cover with water and cook over medium heat for approximately 1-1/2 hours…
….turning halfway through the cooking.
When the chicken is done (and I like it very well done), I remove the pot from the heat, place the chicken on a platter to cool slightly and pour the broth into a large container. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, I remove the skin and remove the chicken from the bones, separating it into containers: white meat, dark meat and scraps for the dog.
From the 4 lb., 11 oz., chicken I cooked today, I got 3 cups of white meat, 1-1/2 cups of dark meat, 1 cup of scraps and 8 cups of rich chicken broth.
I prefer to leave any seasonings or vegetables out of this procedure so I can have more options on using the chicken and broth. I put the packages of chicken in the freezer (minus what I wanted to use that day) and refrigerated the broth. The next morning, I will remove any fat from the broth and put it in smaller containers for the freezer. Note that this broth won’t have the preservatives of commercial broth and should be in containers that will be used in a few days.
The flavor of the chicken is great and the broth is so much better than the canned or boxed stuff. I feel I get my full money’s worth out of $7 worth of chicken and with minimal time and trouble.
Here are some of my favorite recipes using a cup or two of cooked chicken. Either white or dark meat can be used.
Chicken and Black Bean Burrito Casserole
Chicken and Asparagus Pudding
Yukon Chicken Salad
Chicken and Eggplant Parmesan
Balsamic Chicken Melt
Easy Chicken a la King
Chicken Puffs with Mushroom Sauce