We had chickens. We had a pig. We even had goats since my dad loved fudge and goats' milk had been recommended by my dad's doctor for his digestive system. The list of homesteading feats goes on and on: the garden, the fruit trees, the canning and freezing. And it seems that nothing went to waste. Not even the feet.
When you grow up that way, you sometimes believe that everyone has had the same experiences as a child. I'll never forget sitting around a dinner table in my own home, in the presence of adult guests, and asking,
"Really, who here has not eaten chicken feet?!"
A moment of silence followed. Eyes from all around the table were turned on me. Mouths open, with no words, some in the midst of chewing. What I had said seemed natural enough to me. That's the way it was. When it was time to put chickens in the freezer, my mother would collect, clean, and skin the chicken feet and then deep fry them to a crispy delicacy. I thought, of course, everyone did that! In some regions of China, it's still considered a delicacy.
So, in this blog, I enjoy passing on the practical, as well as the impractical, ways that I've learned to save a dollar or two. No, I've never actually served chicken feet. A number of other delicacies from my childhood will also never be served at my table, but may be served up as food for thought in later posts!
The point is, we can get a lot out of one chicken. Consider stretching one large roasted chicken into three, 3, meals for a 4-person family. First, begin with a very large chicken to roast, over 4 pounds. Roast according to your taste. I like to roast mine, stuffed with celery, apples, and seasonings that include sage, rosemary, thyme, salt and butter. No bread stuffing in my chicken though. The outside of the chicken I butter liberally and then sprinkle with the same seasonings. I then roast at 325 degrees F until the internal temperature reaches 180 degrees F. I'd rather overcook than undercook a chicken. Test a leg joint. It should flex easily and reveal the meat without running pink juice.
|one roast chicken|
For broth, start by taking all the meat off the bones. Reserving the meat. We'll come back to that. Place the bones and any pieces that you wouldn't want to chew on in a Dutch oven or stock pot. Cover with water. Add 1 cup chopped carrots, 1 cup chopped celery, 2 T onion and a tsp of salt. Bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for a full two hours. This will give you a basic chicken stock that you can use in other meals. Freeze it in ice cube trays and transfer to plastic bags or use within a week.
Remember the importance of veggies in your diet because the only way to stretch a chicken into three healthy meals for a family is by sprinkling your plate with a liberal amount of colorful veggies, breads and pasta!
Since variety is the spice of life, having roast chicken for three meals in the same week, although delicious, could become dull. If you don't freeze the chicken for later meals, plan to use it up within four days.
Ways to use chicken, stretching your dollar, without using even one chicken foot:
Mexican enchiladas, fajitas, tacos, chicken casserole; BBQ chicken sandwiches, Italian tetrazzini with linquini, Italian cacciatore with spaghetti; Asian chicken salad, chow mein, moo goo gai pan (chicken and mushrooms served with rice); chicken spinach salad, chicken and lettuce wraps (beansprouts, anyone?); Philly chicken subs, chicken pot pie, cheesy chicken and broccoli bake, creamed chicken and biscuits, chicken and dumplings.
Gotta stop. My mouth is already watering and I have chicken in the fridge! Here's the key thing to remember:
We don't need a meal of just meat. Mix it up for a light salad, an Oriental dish, or a rib-sticking delight. When you serve your meals, keep them colorful with the addition of fruits and veggies (providing vitamins, minerals, flavonoids, etc.) and your body will love you for it! This will stretch your chicken dollar.
Question: If you start with a whole roasted or BBQ chicken, how would you serve up the left-overs?