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Get Real: How To Cut A Whole Chicken

**This post is part of the Get Real series. Please remember that this is meant as a learning community. We know that many of you are passionate about what you do and we want you to express that, just please do so in a way that will be an encouragement and aid to others making a transition. We want this to be a “safe space” for participants to learn. For that reason, we reserve the right to delete any comments that are not handled in this manner.

When I purchase chicken for my family I almost always buy a whole chicken.  It’s cheaper, it goes further, and it is more useful.  I have a favorite chicken farmer from whom I almost always purchase my chicken.  When I can’t make it to the farmer’s market, I will only buy organic chicken from one of the brands that I have already researched.  After reading this incredible book a couple years back, the way I buy animal products changed very much.  If you are interested in reading about the way animals are farmed in our country I recommend you read it.

Here is the way I cut my chicken when I do buy it whole:

1. Cut between the thigh and the leg

2. Separate the leg and the thigh

3. Separate the wing and the breast

4. Cut down the breast bone, and around the back of each breast.

5. As you cut be sure to save the scraps and bones for making stock–bones, neck, liver, heart, gizzard.

To make the chicken stock:

Add all the scraps to a large crock pot.  Add a few whole carrots, some celery stalks, a chopped up onion, and a handful or two of herbs of your choosing.  Cover completely with water.  Set the crock pot to the lowest setting and leave for several hours, at least overnight.  You can skim off the foam every now and then if you prefer a more clear-looking broth, or if you don’t mind a little cloudiness leave the foam.  When you are through strain out the liquid and discard the scraps.  You can use the chicken stock right away, or store in freezer safe containers and freeze for a warming, yummy winter soup.

Instead of using them for stock, you may choose to cook and serve your organ meats.  You could simply saute them in butter and eat them, or get creative with them.  I would caution you, however, to consider whether or not you want to eat non-organic chicken organs.  The liver especially is the organ that detoxes and filters out all the toxins from the chicken’s body.  If your chicken is not organic it is quite likely that the chicken liver is full of chemicals of all sorts (pesticides, herbicides, antibiotics, hormones, who-knows-what).  Just something to consider.

If you choose not to purchase a whole chicken, consider which other cuts of the chicken you can purchase for a lesser price and still get the same nutritious, tasty results.  Chicken thighs are less expensive (and quite often on sale) than the coveted breast, but still taste just as good.

**I do have to confess; however, that although I buy a whole chicken I have now started purchasing a whole chicken already cut up by my favorite farmer.  Honestly, I have a difficult time with animal carcasses.  I have told my husband that someday I may be a vegetarian.  ;)

When you purchase chicken do you prefer to buy a whole bird or just a particular part of the bird?  What are some ways you resourcefully use all of the parts?

September Week 2 Action Item:

Each week we will try to give you some simple action steps to put this journey into practice. It is important that you start this journey by understanding yourself, your goals and perhaps your obstacles.
  1. If you’ve never purchased a whole chicken, give the above technique a try!  Spend some time at the grocery comparing the costs of different cuts and parts of the chicken.  Could you substitute your usual breast purchase for other cuts?

September Get Real:

Please take a moment to thank our guest authors by clicking over to their sites and/or liking them on Facebook and/or Twitter.

Sponsor:  Once A Month Mom

Guest Author: Gudrun of Kitchen Gadget Girl


8 Responses to “Get Real: How To Cut A Whole Chicken”

  1. Heather says:

    We belong to a poultry CSA where we can get whole chickens each week….or we can order them halved or cut for no extra charge. I’m not a big fan of cutting them myself, so I usually order them cut since it doesn’t cost extra. I did get a whole one this past week…maybe I’ll get brave and try cutting it! We’ll see! : )

  2. RJ says:

    I started doing this recently. I prefer to just roast the whole thing though. Much easier. I didn’t know you could put the organs in a stock pot. I always pass on the organs because I can’t eat them, grosses me out. Does it change the stock flavor much?

  3. Kristal says:

    I tend to purchase whole birds but as I don’t like to handle raw meat and like to reduce cross contamination chances, I usually roast or cook the whole bird in my crockpot. I then break it down and pull meat from the bones. I use all the skin and bones to make stock.

  4. I like to buy whole chickens also. BUT, I also usually cook them, strip the meat and then use the rest for making stock. Mainly because I don’t like dealing with the mess of the raw chicken, but also because I have trouble cutting through all the bone/joints etc. Guess I need better knives…

  5. Amanda says:

    I too will buy a whole bird, cook in the crockpot, then breakdown, make stock etc. Not a fan of breaking legs and arms off a raw chicken, something about it freaks me out lol

  6. Alison says:

    We buy ours whole from a local farmer and will keep a few whole for roasting. Fortunately my husband doesn’t mind cutting up the chicken. We then throw the carcasses in a huge stock pot and make broth to can. Once the broth has cooked we pull a significant amount of meat from the carcass and use it for recipes that call for cooked chicken. I feel like the chicken stretches a little farther this way than roasting it.

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