Some of you may know that I have weird taste in fiction, one of my favorite authors is Margaret Atwood who specializes in near-future dystopia -think of it as the opposite of utopia. In two of her novels, science has reached a point where the chicken has been engineered to be little more than a mouth that produces meat called chickie nobs. I suppose it’s supposed to be a dark parody of our society. Lots of people I know will only eat the hygenic, pre-frozen 15% sodium solution boneless skinless chicken breasts; I can’t help but wonder how long until someone introduces the chickie nob concept.
Some would say we’re already there. To counter that I want to challenge you to try something new with chicken.
I believe if you’re only consuming the chicken breast that you’re missing out on the best the chicken has to offer. I also think those of us who choose to eat meat ought to be at least mindful of the process and part of that is not being wasteful.
Did you know that cooking chicken on the bone yields more tender and flavorful chicken?
Bones contain a lot of moisture and when the chicken is heated, this moisture is released. Think of it as internal basting without all that pesky effort. *Note* I do not actually recommend basting as a technique with chicken, it’s more effective to just leave the oven door closed.
What’s the difference between light and dark meat in chicken?
In chicken, white meat is the breast and wings. White meat has less connective tissue and fat than dark meat. White meat can be cooked by many methods, but over cooking will leave it dry due to its lower fat content.
The thighs and legs of a chicken are the dark meat. These parts contain more fat and connective tissue than its white meat counterpart. Lower heat and wet cooking methods will give the most tender results IF the bird is mature. In the US most chickens are butchered quite young, so the maturity and tenderness concern is usually a non-issue.
Do you have a recipe for one type of chicken that you would like to use for another?
Great, I found a wonderful chart explaining how to convert chicken recipes and cooking times.
Whole Chicken Ideas
How to Roast a Chicken – this is a great first step. Roasting is a great technique that can be used for company meals and simple dinners at home, it’s a technique all cooks should master.
How to Spatchcock a Chicken – use a sturdy pair of kitchen shears to cut out the spine of a chicken. This allows to the chicken to lie flat for roasting or grilling. With more surface area, this technique significantly reduces cook-time. It’s also sounds like a dirty word which adds to the fun.
How to Cut Up a Whole Chicken – If you purchase chicken from a local farmer, whole chicken may be your only option. Cutting up the chicken gives you many more options for preparation. For others, sometimes purchasing whole chickens is simply more economical than buying parts.
Recipes for Cut Up Chicken
Chicken on the Cheap
How to Remove a Chicken Thigh Bone – only do this if chicken thighs are somewhere around half the cost of boneless skinless chicken thighs and save the bones for stock.
Using All of the Chicken
Save your bones, wing tips, and chicken backs to make homemade stock. You don’t have to make the stock the same night you cook the chicken. Keep the leftover bones in a freezer bag or other container in your freezer until you have enough for this project. You can use either raw chicken bones or cooked. Some people even roast the bones prior to making stock to get a darker, richer stock. It’s all up to you.
How to make chicken stock – the Asian method
How to make chicken stock – the French method
How to Use Leftover Cooked Chicken
Chicken Salad– please keep in mind I took that picture well before I knew *anything* about food photography.
Jambalaya – did you know most Cajun recipes were simply methods of making the most out of what was on hand? You don’t need the exact recipe, think of it as a technique and feel free to substitute to your heart’s content.
A Final Note
If you’re a bit squeamish, know that familiarity helps. It won’t make the process enjoyable, but the more you have to deal with it, the easier it gets. If you’re pregnant, pass the job on to someone else. I couldn’t bear to deal with poultry during any of my pregnancies. It’s a temporary situation and it will pass . . . eventually.
Feel free to share your techniques in the comments.