I have to admit, I've been a chicken snob for many years - if it wasn't boneless/skinless chicken breast I wanted no part of it. Well, along my journey to frugalness, I have found that you can have chicken without the major hit on your pocket book! When I see bone-in chicken breasts on sale for $0.88/lb. I get super excited! I know now how to remove the skin, cut the meat of the bone and package it up in the freezer for another day......woo hoo! AND if you are like I was and you're buying those bags of chicken breasts.....they are full of sodium because they're frozen in basically a salt water bath - just a side note for those of you trying to lose weight.
More recently I have discovered whole chickens.....initially I thought - what the heck am I going to do with a whole chicken? Well, at $0.49/lb. I was willing to learn! I have made several meals out of a whole chicken along with chicken stock.
Here is what I have learned from SO many of the great blogs that I rely on -
Step #1 - place the whole chicken in the crock pot with celery, onions, carrots, salt, pepper, a little pat of butter and about 1/2 cup of water. Let cook 8 -10 hours.
Step #2 - remove the chicken from the crock pot and let cool - remove skin and bones and return all of that to the crock pot (instructions for that will follow). With the meat you have from the chicken, shred it up and package it into 1lb. packages (or whatever you like). The last time I did this I ended up with four little baggies of chicken. Go through this really well with your fingers - chicken bones can be little. Put in the freezer and save for future use.
Step #3 - all of the stuff in the crock pot will now be made into a rich, beautiful chicken stock! Just fill the crock pot with water - leaving all the skin, bones, left over veggies in there and leave it on low for 8 - 10 hours. After it cools a bit, you can strain out all of the garbage and package up the chicken broth into whatever portion size you would like and stick in the freezer for a rainy day.
A 5lb. chicken that cost me $2.45 can go a really long way - 4 packages of shredded meat and 8 containers of chicken stock. I think that's a great bargain and it's so healthy for all of us!
Why am I talking about whole chickens today....I got a call from my child's school that our youngest was running a fever. In addition to that he is stuffed up and has a bit of a cough. So, in a victorious "planning ahead, best mommy in the world" moment - after I made him a bed on the couch and got him settled, I was able to whip up a batch of homemade chicken noodle soup using two packages of broth, two cups of water, some sauteed garlic/onion/carrot, a package of shredded chicken, and a bag of egg noodles. I know I feel better.....and I'm hoping that he will too.
So far I have used the chicken to make white bean chicken chili and the homemade chicken noodle soup, but it can be used in enchiladas, a casserole, etc. - just like I learned with a small chuck roast that I found way back in my freezer.....alone it's not enough to feed my family, but mixed with things it can make a meal. (You might have already known that, but I am still on my journey to frugalness! ha!)
I hope you have a happy and healthy day and remember to not be so snotty when it comes to cooking, branch out - sometimes you might surprise yourself!