Sunday, March 20, 2011

Why I love whole chickens (and why you should too)

I know that a lot of people out there don't like to mess with whole chickens and I have to agree that there is a yuck factor involved, but for a frugal gall like me the savings are too good to pass up. To start I buy whole chickens when they are about 60 cents a pound. This is my rock bottom stock up price and I'll usually buy 3 or 4 when they are this cheap and put them in my freezer for later. I will usually get a 4 or 5 pound chicken, which means that a whole chicken costs around $3.
My favorite way to use these whole chickens is to cook them in the crockpot. To do this I thaw a chicken, remove the giblets (save these for later) and put it in my crockpot. I then cover the chicken in water and cook it on low until the chicken is cooked through, usually about 4 or 5 hours. When the chicken is fully cooked take it out of the crockpot and let it sit until it is cool enough to handle, leave the liquid in the crockpot on low, you will get back to it later. After the chicken is cool enough to handle take all of the meat off the bones (put the meat in the fridge for later use) and throw the bones and such back into the crock pot along with the giblets you saved from earlier and turn it on high. Cook this on high for a few hours then take out all the bones and strain the broth into a large bowl (I usually use a tea towel over a strainer to get the clearest broth possible). Put the broth into the fridge to cool. Now you have lots of cooked chicken and chicken broth waiting to be made into yummy meals. The last time I did this I managed to get 3 meals out of the meat with broth left in the freezer for future meals. The meals I got were:

Curried Chicken Lettuce Wraps
Chicken Noodle Soup
Chicken and Broccoli Braid (I made a half batch for the kids and I)

You could also use the cooked chicken to make my cheesy chicken and rice casserole or in place of the turkey in many of my turkey day take two recipes.