I was at one of the local warehouse stores and saw Perdue whole chickens at a very good price. Since chicken is a real favorite here, I bought as many as I could afford. Then, instead of freezing them whole, I invested a little time into cutting them up. Cutting a whole chicken up is not hard, not once you get the hang of it. Here is how I do it:
- Dry the chicken off so that it is not so slippery. Keep drying as needed throughout.
- Take kitchen shears and cut the skin between each leg and the breast. Pick the chicken up by one leg, hold on to the body, and bend the leg back where the thigh meets the body, breaking the joint. Hold the leg and let the chicken dangle. Cut the leg off at the thigh joint. It is easy to tell where to cut, you can see where the joint bent. I use a knife for this. Until you are used to doing this, you might not want to let the chicken dangle, but do pick it up by the leg and cut at the joint. Allowing it to dangle opens the joint up a bit and makes it easier to cut through.
- Starting at the thigh, pull the skin off. Holding the quarter at each end, bend it backwards to break this joint. It is even easier to see where to cut here, right through the joint where leg meets thigh.
- Cut the tips off of the wings with kitchen shears. Grasp a wing and bend it backwards. Work your knife through the joint.
- Now you have 2 breasts and the back. I always cut the back off of the chicken, but you don't have to. I love the back when I make fried chicken, but they are also very good when used to make stock. To me, the back is very similar to the wing, without the skin since the skin here doesn't cover the meat, and is easily avoided.
To cut the back from the breasts: Look at the inside of the chicken. You will see the ribs, and that some ribs come from the back, and some from the front. Insert your knife between front and back ribs and cut here. I then pull the back away from the breast, breaking the remaining joint. Insert the knife into the joint, and cut the back away. The back has two parts, which are easy to see. One part has the ribs, the other part doesn't. Cut the rib piece away from the other all the way to the spine. Then break the spine at that point, and cut between the joints.
- I use the kitchen shears for the breast. I pull the skin off first. Find the bone at the middle, thickest part. Insert one blade of the shears between the bone and the flesh and cut until the bone breaks. You might need to squeeze the shears with both hands. Cut through the bone to the end, then cut through the meat. Then take each breast and cut it in half.
This is how I package the chicken up, and where real thriftiness comes in:
- I take the livers, which I love, and put all of them in a separate freezer bag. There is one meal. (I am making Chinese chicken livers - MMMMM!)
- Take the skin, any trimmed fat, the wing tips, and the rest of the giblets and put them in a soup pot. You can use the backs and wings here too. Throw in an onion or two (don't take the skin off, it adds flavor and a lovely gold color), just cut them in half, a couple of carrots, some celery, and whatever other veggie you want to flavor your stock. Cover by a couple of inches with water. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Let this simmer a few hours to extract all the flavor. Pour through a colander to remove all the solids. Allow this to cool, then skim off the fat. You now have some wonderful, delicious soup stock.
This freezes very well, and is just wonderful to have on hand for a large variety of dishes. One super easy meal is to thaw a quart of stock, add a cup or two of frozen veggies, herbs of choice, some leftover chicken meat, and some noodles. This is the best chicken noodle soup ever, and is very fast and easy.
- All of the wings go into a bag, and you have paid a lot less than you would to buy a package of just wings.
- The rest of the chicken, 2 breast pieces (from 1 cut in half breast) a leg, a thigh, and one back piece go into one bag. This will be one dinner and a couple of pieces left for lunch the next day. (for two people).
Now I have quarts of stock, a large bag of wings, a bag of livers, and chicken cut up, de-skinned, and ready to go for many meals. On top of all of this, I made several dozen biscuits for my dogs. This is how:
- I took all of the giblets, the skin, and the carrots and celery and chopped them up fine. I took the meat off the necks too. Then I mixed all of that and some of the fat I skimmed off of the stock, mixed it with oats, a little cornmeal, and enough flour to make a good dough. I rolled it out 1/3 inch thick, and cut it with a dog bone shaped cutter. I baked them at 325 for 10 minutes, then reduced the heat to 250 for an hour, turning them over twice during that time. I turned the oven off and let it cool.
- Once cool, I packaged them up in packets of 10 and freeze them. When needed, I take a pack or two out of the freezer, and I keep them in the fridge. Many recipes for dog biscuits you don't have to do this, but I feel its safer. The dogs absolutely love these biscuits.
Doing things this way, I pay a lot less than for already cut up chicken. I cut the chicken the way I like, and I get more pieces that way.
There are many videos online to help you learn how to cut a chicken up if my instructions aren't clear. Just type "how to cut up a whole chicken" into your search engine.
By Free2B from North Royalton, OH