Is anyone else intimidated by cooking an entire freaking animal?? I was.
Not for ethical or moral reasons, I was just scared I would screw up such a big piece of meat!
Morally, I feel completely at peace with eating meat. I don’t eat a ton, and the meat I do eat fits my high standards. I try to eat meat in this order:
1. Local (like this chicken!)
2. Grass fed/ pastured (really hard to tell if the labeling on store bought is true so going local is your best bet)
3. Organic (not my favorite choice, but in a pinch if you only have time for a grocery store purchase I would choose organic meat over conventional
Why do I have these standards? That an entirely different post in itself, but basically I believe the saying “you are what you eat”. Not literally, I don’t intend on morphing into a whole chicken anytime soon, but if you choose to eat sick industrially produced animals who are dependent on antibiotics and live sad short lives- I think your health is going to take a toll.
So earlier this Spring I took the plunge and decided to cook a whole local chicken, for the very first time. Why? Well my standards above make it so my meat is pretty expensive compared to store bought alternatives so buying in bulk (like a whole chicken rather than boneless skinless chicken breasts) can save me a bunch of money. Also, with Ryan traveling so much for work I was desperate for “Cook once eat twice” kinds of meals.
Well I got a little bit more than I bargained for here because it was really “Cook once, eat five times” which was a nice surprise.
So before I get into HOW I cooked this beautiful 4.5 pound bird ($18), here is what we used it for, with each number serving two people.
- Roasted Chicken, Asparagus, Mashed Potatoes
- Salad with strawberries and roasted chicken
- BBQ Chicken Pizza
- BBQ Chicken sandwiches
Now, don’t worry, we didn’t eat chicken five nights in a row. Here’s how we did it.
Cooking a whole chicken really couldn’t be much easier.
1. Quarter two onions and lay in the bottom of a large crock pot
Seriously, that’s it. No need to add any liquid to your crock pot. The juices from the chicken create a thin gravy that I thicken with organic corn starch after removing the meat from the crockpot.
So after we had our first meal of roasted chicken, asparagus, and potatoes, I let the bird cool down for probably 30-45 minutes while I cleaned up and got a few other things done.
Then I took the rest of the meat of the bones and put the carcass (yeah, I just said carcass) back in the crock pot with TWO quarts of water and let that run on low for about 12 hours. This makes the best, most delicious, FREE chicken broth. Two quarts of organic chicken broth in the store I shop at would cost about $5.60 total.
With the meat I took off the chicken, I packed up two meals worth of leftovers for Ryan to take with him to the hotel. I also portioned out two servings of chicken for me to eat for lunch that week over salads.
Ok so that’s 6 servings of chicken so far, you with me?
The rest I shredded and put in the freezer. I figured we had had enough chicken for one week.
The next weekend (on Sunday morning) I pulled the four leftover servings chicken out of the freezer so we could use it up. I mixed some with barbecue sauce and packaged it up for Ryan to take with him for two night worth of BBQ Chicken sandwiches. With the other two servings we made a BBQ Chicken Pizza!
The pizza was probably my favorite way to use up this leftover chicken, well, because its pizza and who doesn’t love pizza?
So there you have it, 5 full meals (10 servings) worth of MarWin Farm Better Than Organic Chicken. And what did it cost me?
$4.5 lb Chicken: $18
Out of the $18 chicken I got atleast $5 worth of chicken stock, which means the 10 servings of meat we ate price out at about $1.30 per meal. Still think you can’t afford to eat locally raised meat? Gotcha.
What is your favorite way to cook a chicken?!